INSIDE THE HEARTS
OF BIBLE WOMEN

7 ~ Wheel Spinning
(Martha)

(based on Luke 10:38-42 and John 11 in the New Testament)





Part 1 ~ Getting Organized
5:00 AM:  

        Martha got out of bed just a little earlier than usual.  This was going to be a full day and she had so much to do.  It was to be special.  
Jesus and his twelve friends were coming for dinner tonight.  Everything had to be just right.  

        The shadows were still quite low and she fumbled across the room to light a lamp.  On the way she ran into a small stool she hadn't
remembered leaving there.  

        "Ouch!"  She stopped, sat down on the stool, and nursed the pain a few minutes.  "What a way to start the day.  Hope this isn't an
indication of anything," she thought as she sat there.  When it felt like she could walk okay, she went on over to the lamp and lit it.  That
was better.  [1]

        "Now where did I put my clothes last night?  I know they are over in this corner some where."  After lifting up several other things also
piled in that corner, she finally found them.  They had been under some cording she had selected to make a new floor mat with.  She set
the clothes aside a moment, and stared at the cording.  

        "This color doesn't look right in the shadows," she thought.  "If it is going to look good by lamp light in the evenings, I may have to
dye it a little brighter.  Let's see now.  Would I have enough to make two small mats, or should I make one larger one?  We need both.  
Which do we need the most?"  

        She walked around the room with it, holding it up to the lamp, holding it in the shadows, holding it in the window where the sun was
rising.  [2]

        "The sun!  It's nearly completely up, and I'm not even dressed yet.  Oh, where are my clothes?  I'm already behind.  There is just too
much in one day to get done,
especially with Jesus coming for dinner tonight."  

        After she was dressed, she went outside and splashed some water on her face.  Then she went over to the storage jars to get out
some barley to grind for breakfast bread.  

        "Well, we have enough barley.  But what about corn meal?  Do we have enough to last the rest of the spring and summer until
harvest?"  She checked the other jars and analyzed how much she could make out of each one.  

        "Let's see now.  We have company about every other week.  Then there's those unexpected guests Lazarus brings home with him
when he walks over to Jerusalem.  And at Passover and Pentecost coming up this spring we will have a lot of company with people arriving
from all over the country to attend temple ceremonies."  

        She picked up a stick lying on the ground and registered all the people per week she anticipated feeding until harvest time came
again.  "Well, I guess that will be enough if we're careful.  But what about olive oil for the cooking; will we have enough of that?  With all
these olive groves around, our out-of-town guests like to take some home with them when they leave.  Maybe I should make some small
jars to put the oil in especially for the guests.  I'll make them a little fancy, as part of the gift.  I think people will like that." She smiled and
thought of several ways she could shape them at her potter wheel.  [3]

        "Good morning, Martha."  

        "What are you doing up so early?"  

        "It's not early.  It's my usual time."  

        Martha looked up at the sun and realized more time had passed than she meant to take.  

        "Oh, I can't believe it's so late,and I haven't got a thing done yet."  

6:00 AM:  

        Mary smiled as she walked over to the bowl of water.  "You'll catch up.  Everything will be fine."  

        "But you know
Jesus is coming for dinner tonight.  There is so much to do."  

        "You've got all day. You'll get it taken care of in plenty of time."  

        "You know everything has to be just right for him."  

         "And it will be.  You are an excellent cook."  

        "I don't mean just that.  Everything.  Everything must be perfect."  

        "Would you like me to help you with the bread?"  

        "Oh, would you do that?  If you'll just do the grinding, I can run down to the well and get a fresh supply of water while we're doing
that."  

        Martha picked up the jar she normally used and arranged it on her head.  She paused.  "Mary, where's that smaller jar?  I will
probably need extra water today.  Have you seen it?"  

        "I think I saw it over by the oven.  Have you checked there?"  

        Martha took the larger jar off her head, set it down, and went over to the oven.  "Right where you said it would be.  How do you keep
track of everything like that?  I can't ever remember anything?"  

        "Well, you have a lot of responsibilities on your mind."  
        The older sister took the smaller jar over to where she'd left the larger one.  The larger one went back on her head, the smaller
under her arm.  

        "I'll be back in a jiffy ~ by the time you get the barley ground up."   

        My, it was a beautiful spring morning.  The fruit trees among which her little town was nestled, were coming in to full blossom.  What a
marvelous time to be alive.  

        Martha arrived at the well and put her jars down.  Three other women were ahead of her.  She wondered how that could be,
considering she'd gotten such an early start.  

        "Did you know that Anna had twin boys last night?"  

        "She did?  How lucky that woman is...."  

        ....Several minutes passed in enthusiastic conversation and fellowship.  

        "....I have a cousin that has had nothing but girls.  She's cursed."  ....and more fellowship....  

        "....Don't you know that's what Elizabeth felt like for so many years."  ....and more fellowship....  

        "...then once he's grown, she looses him to Herod's treachery.  How horrible.  What is this world coming to anyway?"  [4]

        Martha, who had been right in the middle of the conversation the whole time, finally got her turn to draw water.  "What the world
needs right now is Jesus," she said.  

        "You know this Jesus pretty well, don't you?"  

        "He's a personal friend of the family.  In fact,
he's coming for dinner tonight."  

        She stopped and looked at the women fixedly.  "I know without the slightest hesitation that he is the Christ, the Messiah our people
has looked for so many centuries.  I think it has helped, him coming to our home whenever he visits Jerusalem.  Did I tell you
Jesus is
coming for dinner tonight?
 I have looked forward to it for weeks.  It will be so wonderful.  And I've got so much to do yet."  She paused and
looked back at the sun.  It was risen fully, and was shooting glistening sparkles to everything it could reach.  "Oh, I've got to run."  [5]

        Of course there was no way to run with two jars so heavy with water.  

        "Mary will be so angry.  I hope I'm on time.  She should have the barley ground by now.  Good and ground."  

7:00 AM:  

        She walked up the narrow lane scaling a small hill on which her house sat.  Winded and half worried, she walked through the gate.  
"Mary.  I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to take so long.  It's just that...."  

        "That's okay,"her younger sister replied.  "There was a little water left, just enough to mix with the bread.  It's all been mixed and is
sitting out waiting for the sun to warm up the yeast.  It will be risen and ready to bake in a couple hours."  

        "Mary, I didn't mean to take so long."  

        "I know.  That's okay.  It's hard to walk with such heavy jars."  

        Martha took a deep breath, put her hands on her hips, looked up toward the room where everyone would be eating and then back at
her sister.  

        "I got enough extra water to scrub that room down."  

        "To do what?"  

        "It's musty from the winter.  We really do need to get it scrubbed."  

        "But I had an appointment today to meet a salesman who travels to the coast once a month to merchandise olive oil for us."  

        "Oh, I forgot.  Well, that's important too.  So you run on and I'll get it done.  No problem."  

        "No, now that's not fair.  You shouldn't be doing all this alone."  

        "Really, I'll be fine.  I'll get it done."  

        "Well, I really don't think you should be doing scrubbing walls today anyway.  Jesus isn't coming to check your housekeeping.  He just
wants a place to stay and a meal with good friends.  That's all he wants."  

        "Mary, you just don't understand.  Everything has to be perfect when
Jesus comes for dinner tonight."  

        Mary walked over to her sister and gave her a hug and a smile.  "Oh my big sister.  You are always planning and organizing and
working things out to make them special for people.  You don't have to.  But then I guess for you it's the thing to do.  You are a sweet
thoughtful person and I'm glad you're my sister."  [6]

        Mary went back into the house to put on her clothes for going in to Jerusalem and then returned.  By this time Martha had her water
poured in a large bowl.  She was just picking up her scrub brush when Mary passed.  

        "You won't work on that after the day gets hot, will you?"  

        "Of course not.  I have plenty of time.  It will be all done long before that."  

        "Now where is that soap?"  She looked around.  Lazarus was now up.  "Lazarus, have you seen that soap I made last week?"  

        He called out from inside the house.  "I don't think you made it last week.  I think it was more like two weeks ago, or three."  

        "No, it couldn't be.  It was just last week."  

        "Remember you were making it that day when Rebecca came by to see you?"  

        "Oh that's right.  It was about her neighbor's funeral.  That means I'm out again.  Oh, I'll have to go next door."  

        Out the door, over to the next house, and now knocking.  "I hope I'm not waking them up.  Shouldn't at this time of morning," she
thought.  

        Shortly her friend came to the door.  "Well Martha.  How are you this morning?"  

        "Oh, I'm just fine.  I have so much to do.  
Jesus is coming for dinner tonight, you know."  

        "That's right.  I remember you mentioning that a few days ago.  Are you all ready?"  

        "That's what I came over for.  I hope you don't mind, but I thought I had plenty of soap, and have used it up.  Do you have any I can
borrow just until I get some more made in a few days?"  

        "Well, I was just going to make some myself this afternoon.  You can come borrow some of it then."  

        "Oh, that's too late.  I need it now."  

        "How about the people across the street?  They're nice enough."  

        "Yes, I think I'll try there.  See you later."  

        "Okay.  And enjoy your visit with Jesus."  

        She hurried across the street and knocked on the front gate.  In a minute it open.  

        "Hello there, Martha.  How are you this morning?"  

        "I'm just fine, thank you.  Listen, I need a great big favor, if you don't mind."  

        "Of course.  What do you need?"  

        "Soap.  I need soap.  I'm out.  I don't know how it happened, but the time flew by, and I'm just out.  I'll make some more in the next day
or two and pay you back.  But I need some this morning."  

        "Something special going on over there today?"  

        "Oh yes.  
Jesus is coming for dinner tonight."  

        "He's that preacher none of the priests like."  

        "Well, yes.  He just tries to teach people to love one another...of course he's only unpopular among unloving people....many have the
wrong idea about him."  

        "You sound like you know him quite well."  

         "Oh, I do.  He comes to our home every time he goes to Jerusalem.  I'm sure your out-of-town friends do the same, living in the
suburb and all."  

        "I hope you have a real nice visit....Oh, the soap.  You wanted soap.  Sorry to get you distracted like this.  How much do you need?"  

        "Just enough for today.  I'm going to scrub out the room where they'll be eating.  That will take a little extra."  

        "Kind of a big project for a day when your company is arriving."  

         "I can get it all done.  Nothing is too good for him when he comes to dinner tonight.  It's just one more way to let him know that we all
love him and are glad to have him in our home."  

         The door closed and she rushed back to her house.  [7]
                                                    Part 2 ~ The Agenda  

8:00 AM:  

        Martha rushed back home and over to her bowl of water.  On her way she noticed the bread.  It had risen and was ready to bake.  
"Oh, I've got so much to do," she thought.  She picked up the tray with the bread on it and took it over to the oven.  

        "Oh, no.  I forgot to get the fire lit for the oven."  She ran to a trough with kindling in it, collected what she needed, and ran back
over to the oven.  She piled the kindling in and got it lit.  "Well, I can't start the bread yet.  I'll just go ahead with the scrubbing."  

        The soap was added to the water.  Then she carefully picked up the bowl so as to not spill it, and slowly made her way out of the
court yard, up the side steps, and to the upper room where the dinner was to be held.  Some of it splashed out, but not enough to worry
about.  

        "When do you think breakfast will be ready?"  

        "In about an hour probably, Lazarus," she called back.  

        "Then I'm going to town for a while.  It won't take me long."  

        He left.  She had arrived at the room by this time.  She sat the water down, rolled up her sleeves, and opened the shutters to the
musty room.  She pushed the table and benches over to one side, then started at the top of one wall.  As she scrubbed she thought of
the excitement of the evening ahead.  In just a few hours
Jesus would be sitting in that very room when he had dinner with them that
night...
.  

        "Is the bread ready?  I'm starved.  

9:00 AM:  

        Are you back all ready?"  she called down the stairs.  

        "All ready?  It's been an hour.  I think I'm good and ready for breakfast."  

        "I'll be right down.  I forgot to bake it.  But the oven should be good and hot.  It'll be done in a jiffy."  [8]

        "Martha, you aren't getting yourself into too many projects today are you?  You'll be exhausted by tonight."  

        No reply.  She put her brush down, noticed the water having been greatly depleted in her bowl, so decided it was time to replenish it
anyway.  She threw what she had left out the window and rushed down the stairs.  The dough was gathered up and put in the oven.  She
walked over to Lazarus.  

         "What do you think I should serve when
Jesus comes to dinner tonight?"  

        "Just whatever you think would be good.  Both of my sisters are good cooks."  He looked over at her sheepishly and added, "Don't
tell Mary, but I think you've got a definite edge over her in that area."  

         "You know I could try that new recipe I heard about from Judith the other day.  I think I could remember it."  

        "Well then, as long as it doesn't overburden you, that's what you should have."  

        "And fruit.  I could have dates, as usual.  And a bowl of nuts would be nice...."  

        "I smell something.  Is your bread done?"  

        "Oh, I hope it didn't burn."  She ran over to the oven and rescued it just in time.  "Here, they're a little hot still, but you can eat them
in a few minutes."  

        She poured more water and soap into her bowl and picked it up.  

        "Where are you going?  You need to eat something and keep up your strength."  

        "Oh, I'll be okay.  I just have so much to do with
Jesus coming for dinner tonight."  

        "You just sit down and eat some bread.  It won't hurt you to take that much time.  You'll make up for it in energy gained."  

        He talked her in to it.  She ate some bread while she walked around the courtyard.  "I wonder what utensils I'll use.  Maybe I should
buy some new goblets today.  That would be nice...."  

        "Someone's at the gate.  I'll get it."  He walked over and greeted a peddler.  "Martha, do you need any dye?"  

        "Dye?  Oh, that's just the person I need to see.  Come in."  

        The peddler showed her sample fabric displaying each dye.  She held them together in different arrangements.  She discussed
what she could do with them and if they'd work well with her new mats.  At last she made her selection and the peddler left.  

      "Oh, what time is it?  It's going to be hot before I get that room scrubbed good.  Why do these things always happen on the busiest
days?"  She picked up her bowl and brush and made her way back up the steps to the upper room.  

10:00 AM:  

         She surveyed her previous accomplishments.  "Well, I've got one wall done.  Now for the other three.  I'll never get it all done.  But I
have to.  It's for
Jesus.  He's having dinner with us tonight, and everything must be perfect."  [9]

        She picked up her brush and began humming.  She recalled all the other times he'd been in their home and home and how
wonderful it was.  She thought of those sermons he'd preached and the way he'd helped the sick and unfortunate.  He was emphatic that
people put away their wrong doings, but sympathetic toward those who sincerely tried but failed sometimes.  He believed in people.  And
to think the future
King of the Jews was having dinner with them tonight.  

        "Martha.  Our next door neighbor is here.  She has something for you."  

11:00 AM:  

        "I'll be right down!"  

        She put her brush on the table and backed up to survey her work.  The sun was beginning to shine more directly in the room and
she saw how much of an improvement the walls were.  Just one more and she'd be through.  She grabbed her bowl and made her way
down the steps.  

        "Well hello.  I didn't expect to see you so soon."  

        "I don't want to distract you or anything, Martha.  I just wanted to bring over these raisins I got at the market this morning.  They
were priced quite reasonably."  

        "You didn't need to do that."  

        "I knew how rushed you'd be today, so just picked up some extra for you.  And I have a new recipe for raisin sauce."  

        "Is that right?  Is it hard to make?"  

        "No, not really.  This is how you do it...."  

        "Martha.  I'm going back in to town awhile.  I'll be back in a few hours."  

        "Okay, Lazarus.  I'll probably be here when you get back."  

        "Now, if you don't think you have enough time to fix the raisins that way, I have a variation of that recipe.  Would you like it too?"  

        "Yes.  I think that would be a good idea.  I still have so much to get done today with Jesus coming for dinner and all."  

        The recipe was efficiently committed to memory and repeated by Martha for verification.  

        "I must be going now and leave you to finish your work.  I hope the new recipe works out for you.  If you have trouble remembering,
just come over and I'll fill you in.  See you later."  [10]

        Martha closed the door behind her friend, poured more water and soap into her bowl, and made her way slowly back up the stairs.  
When she got to the room, she looked at the last wall and felt a little tired.  

        "No time for that.  I've got to finish this up and then go in to town myself.  I've decided we do need new goblets for tonight.  And since
she said quite a few fresh fruits were brought to the market this morning, I need to go check out the rest of them.  The
dinner must be
perfect for Jesus tonight."  

        She went back to work on the last wall, but this time it was a little slower.  Her arm was aching a little too and that didn't help matters
any.  Out the window of the wall she was washing she could see the Mount of Olives which stood between Bethel and Jerusalem.  What a
grand city.  She wondered how many of those people would envy her if they knew
Jesus was having dinner with them tonight.  Of course
there were those who would like to put an end to Jesus, so perhaps it was just as well that not too many people knew about it outside of
Bethany.  He'd not be bothered here.  He was respected here.  

      Finally her work was done, and she threw the rest of her wash water out the window.  Fortunately no one was down in the street at
the time; in her rush she'd forgotten to look.  When the thought hit her she stopped just a minute. "What if I'd soaked someone with it?"  
She half grinned as she pulled at her hair, then rushed down the stairs.  

12:00 NOON:  

        She brushed the hair back out of her eyes and rolled her sleeves back down.  "Now, while that's drying, I need to change these
clothes, get into something a little better, and go over to the market."  

        She went in to her room and got out what she intended to wear. "Oh, there's a rip in it.  I may as well fix it while I'm thinking about it."  

        In a few minutes the mending was completed and she put it on.  "Maybe I ought to tidy up in here before I go in to town."  She shifted
several things around and put part of them away.  She opened a trunk to put some yarn away and her eye caught the dress her mother
had worn the last few months of her life.  Martha picked it up and laid it on a table.  She smoothed it carefully with her hands and smiled.  

        "Oh, Mama.  You wore this at one time.  How I miss you.  How we all miss you.  This was one of your favorites.  It is one of mine too."  
She thought back of happy years when the family was all together and she was growing up.  She thought of the reactions she always
knew her mother would have to common daily situations as though she were reliving it.  Then she sighed.  

        "I must put this up and get back to work.  I wonder what I'll wear tonight." She put her mother's dress away and went over to where
she kept her own clothes.  She held up the dress she had planned on wearing for company.  

        "I've had it so long.  I wonder....  Would I have time to make another one real quick this afternoon?  I bet I could.  That would be nice,
having a room scrubbed like new, a dinner with new exciting dishes, and a new dress to entertain in.  She smiled to herself.  I'm fast.  I can
get it done.  I can get some fabric while I'm at the market anyway, and make it in that pattern which doesn't require many seams.  Yes,
he'll like that.  Nothing is too good for the
Master when he has dinner with us tonight."  

        Her room was in pretty good shape now.  She could go on in to town and not worry about that.  She put on her shawl, ran down the
stairs, across the courtyard, and out the door toward the market.  

        "Oh, I forgot my money."  She ran back in and up to her room.  She was winded by now.  "Oh, where did I put it?  It's not on the
table.  Oh, there it is.  It must have fallen when I had Mama's dress out." She picked it up and ran back out her door and down the steps
once more, across the courtyard and out into the street.  [11]

1:00 PM:  

        She made her way down the little hill that her house was built on and was grateful she wasn't going up instead.  She rushed past the
houses of her neighbors, past the city well, and finally arrived at the market.  

        "Let me see, now.  I need to check the fruit.  Oh, I should have brought my knife to be sharpened.  Well, too late for that.  Uh, I need
to check fabric for a new dress.  And goblets.  Mustn't forget those."  

        "Martha!"  

         "Hello there!  How are you doing this beautiful day?"  

        "Shopping, same as you."  

        "Did you just get here?"  

        "No, I've been looking around for half an hour.  Were you wanting anything special?"  

        "Well, yes.  Uh, did you pass any booths with nice goblets?"  

        "Today is your lucky day, Martha!  I just saw some beautiful ones.  A brass craftsman has a booth here today.  He's right down in
that direction.  I'd love to go with you, but I've got to rush home."  

        "Okay.  Thanks a lot."  

        "By the way.  Something special?  With new goblets and all?"  

        "Yes.  
Jesus is having dinner with us tonight."  

        Martha turned and made her way hurriedly among the booths.  She passed the booth with fabrics displayed on her way and
stopped to look through the selection.  After considering the dresses she already had, she made her decision and paid for it.  Next she
came to the crafts section.  Yes, the brass was right where it was supposed to be.  She looked through everything carefully, and finally
made a choice.  She would take a dozen.  No, that wouldn't be enough with the disciples too.  She'd take a dozen and a half.  Luckily a
basket was provided to carry them in.  

2:00 PM:  

        Her parcels were becoming heavy, and she still had to shop for food.  It was a good thing her neighbor brought over the raisins.  It
would save that much time, and that much weight too.  

      She left the area set aside for craftsmen and went on over to the street where the food was displayed.  She made her way from booth
to booth considering, analyzing, planning, examining closely, and making her selections.  When she had finally purchased everything she
thought she'd need, she felt like a pack animal.  How in the world was she going to get everything back home?  

        "Martha!"  

        She turned.  "Oh, Lazarus.  Are you a sight for sore eyes.  I need you to help me carry some of this."  

        "I should hope so.  I kind of thought you'd get a little carried away.  You usually do when we have company," he added with a grin
and a wink.  

        "Here.  You can have the goblets, and...."  

        "Goblets?  We have new goblets?  Why do we have new goblets?"  

        "Now you know how the others are getting chipped and dented.  These will look nice.  After all, nothing is too good for
Jesus when
he has dinner with us tonight."  

         "Here, just let me take all of it.  You're going to need your strength when you get back.  I'll carry it.  Besides, you'd never make it up
our hill with all this."  

        She smiled.  She had thought of it.  But decided she'd think of a solution when the time came.  The time just came sooner than she
had expected, and for that she praised God.  [12]

3:00 PM:  

        "It's too hot to start cooking," Lazarus advised when they arrived home.  

        "Well, I have some other things I need to do anyway.  Would you go upstairs and see if the walls in that room are dry yet?  Then put
the tables and benches back for me?  Could you do that?"  

        "Sure, if you'll promise to slow down a little."  

        "I'll get the dinner utensils out, and the linens, and wash these new goblets.  As soon as you're done, I'll go upstairs and fix the
table."  

        With the greatest of delight Martha took the goblets out of the basket one at a time and washed them carefully.  How they shone in
the sun.  Speaking of sun, it was getting mighty warm.  Perhaps she ought to go inside for awhile to work.  

        She went in to one of her work rooms and got out the things she'd need for the dinner that night.  "Let me see now," she thought.  
"There will be Jesus and his twelve, that's thirteen.  Then there will be Lazarus.  And I think he's inviting Simon whom Jesus healed of
leprosy to eat too.  That's fifteen.  I got just enough goblets.  She set them all on a table, then began getting out linens, napkins for each
one, and towels.  This water bowl and pitcher over here would be perfect for washing their feet when they arrive.  And, let me see...."  At
last she got everything laid out.  It was perfect.  She would have a beautiful table when
Jesus had dinner with them tonight.  

        "Lazarus," she called out the door, "is everything in order up there?"  

        "Oh yes.  I got that done a long time ago.  Do you need any help getting your things taken up there?"  

        "No.  I can do it."  

        After several trips, Martha had everything delivered upstairs.  "Now, let me see.  We will put seven people on each side of the table,
and Jesus at the head.  I'll put one bowl and one goblet at each place.  And I don't think the wind is blowing enough to bring in any dust,
so I think I can go ahead and put the napkins out too."  

        She stood back and looked at the table.  "Perfect.  Just perfect.  Jesus will really be pleased when he
has dinner with us tonight.  
Now for my new dress."  [13]

4:00 PM:  

        "Oh, I left my new material downstairs." She hurried back down the steps, picked up her material, and went back up to her room.  
She spread it out on a large table and then put another dress on top as a pattern.  

        "I wore this a long time ago.  Haven't had one like it in ages.  It's so simple.  But this fabric is so nice that the dress will still look
acceptable."  

        She got it all laid out and cut it carefully.  She set aside the old dress, threaded a needle and sat down with two sections of her
dress.  Finally they were sewn together, and she got another section to sew on.  Gradually the dress took shape.  She was pleased.  

        "Martha!  What are you doing?"  

        Lazarus was standing in the door.  She looked up and was startled at how difficult it was to see him.  

        "Huh?  What time is it?"  

        "Almost dinner time."  

5:00 PM:  

        " Oh, I haven't even started the bread yet.  It still has to rise and...."  

        "Jesus will be here in about one more hour.  Will you be ready?"  

        "Oh, I thought I had everything under control.  Just let me make these last few stitches, and I'll go down and start dinner."  

        "What are you making?"  

        "A new dress for tonight."  

        "When you told me about it, I thought it was for some other day."  

        "No, I got it especially for tonight.  I wanted everything to be just right for
Jesus when he has dinner with us tonight."  [14]

        "I have the meat butchered and downstairs ready to roast.  If there's anything else I can do to help, just let me know."  

        She'd wished Mary had been here to say that.  He knew nothing about cooking.  He could move some things around in the
courtyard so it wouldn't look so cluttered.  But that was about all.  

        Her dress finished, she got up to put it on, then remembered she ought to make the bread dough first.  Laying it aside, she ran
down the stairs and over to the kindling wood.  She restarted the fire in the oven, and rushed over to the grain that had been ground that
morning.  She was grateful that it had been done ahead of time.  

        "Martha, I'm home.  Jerusalem was really busy today.  I almost never found the people I was looking for.  Is everything ready?"  

        By this time she was standing over Martha.  

        "Well, no, everything isn't quite ready.  I got a little distracted with some other things.  But they were important things.  It just took a
little longer than I expected."  

        "What can I do?"  

        "Uh, you can go upstairs to the guest rooms and take some clean linens and make sure they're all swept out good.  Oh, and make
sure there's a lamp in each room for tonight."  

        "Okay.  I'll get that done right away."  

        Frantically Martha tried to remember the easy raisin sauce recipe her neighbor had told her about.  Would she remember it right?  
She could only hope so.  There was no time to go next door and double check.  But the bread.  She'd have to mix the bread first so the
yeast could be rising.  

        Mary returned.  "Okay, that's done.  I'm going to wash up again and run upstairs to put some fresh clothes on.  Then I'll be back
down ready to help you."  

        Martha was grateful for the offer, and thought of her new dress upstairs waiting for her to get into it.  Just as soon as the bread was
mixed and laid out....  

        "Okay.  I'm all ready.  Now, what can I do to help you with dinner?"  

        "I've got the bread ready, and I'm going to start on some new recipes now."  

        "New recipes?  Tonight?"  

        "I'll get it!"  

        "The gate.  It's them, Mary!  It's Jesus.  Oh, I'm not ready.  Look at me!"  Martha raced upstairs to put on her new dress before
Jesus saw her.  Her heart was pumping practically out of her chest.  She was beginning to get a headache.  Her hands shook so much
she could hardly get the dress on.  Oh, how had things piled up to the last minute like this?  She was nearly in tears.  [15]

        Mary and Lazarus smiled and greeted the Savior and his friends at the door.  

        "Greetings in the name of God and all his goodness."  

       "Greetings to you too, Lazarus.  It is so good to see you again."  

       "Greetings, Master."  

        "Greetings, Mary.  How are you this day?"  

        They looked around.  "And where is Martha, our delightful hostess?  Is she well?"  

      "Oh, she'll be down in a minute.  She had a last-minute something to take care of."  

       "Now all of you sit over here and rest.  Mary will bring some water to wash your feet so you can be refreshed from those dusty
roads."  

       "Thank you.  You are most kind."  

        The men all sat down, and one by one Mary washed their feet.  Just as she got to the last disciple, Martha took a deep breath and
walked down the stairs.  

        "Martha.  There you are.  Come over here.  We have not seen you in so long.  It was so good of you to invite us in to your home like
this."  

       "Oh, Master.  I could never do enough for you.  I know you have come to save our nation, to bring back David's kingdom in glory,
and to show us how to live in glory after our resurrection."  

       "Such faith you have, Martha.  You have great faith.  Will you sit down with us for awhile now?  We're going to have to leave first
thing in the morning."  

        "Uh, not just yet.  I'll join you in a little while.  I have just a few more things to take care of for you." [16]
                                            Part 3 ~ Selfless Giving  

6:00 PM:  

        Martha went over to her oven.  Good.  It was still hot.  But the bread wasn't quite ready yet.  Now to get out the food she'd bought
that afternoon and put together some of those new recipes.  She thought she'd be more excited than this, but some how her excitement
had given over to panic.  

      Oh, where did I lay that spoon?  The meat!  I've got to get the meat on.  Let me see; a little salt and it should take care of itself for
awhile."  

        She got out another mixing bowl.  "Where's Mary?  She should be in here helping me.  I've got this huge meal for fix for fifteen
hungry men.  Where is she?"  

        She walked over to where Mary could catch her eye and motioned her to come help with the food.  But Mary was engrossed in what
Jesus was talking about.  She went back to her work.  "There's still so much to do.  The bread.  The bread.  I think I can get that put in the
oven now.  Now, let's see if I've got these beans fixed right.  Mary, oh where are you?  How are we supposed to have something special
for Jesus when she's out there with him?"  

        She again went over to where the men were sitting.  They were getting ready to adjourn to the room upstairs since it was getting a
little dark and cool.  

        "Mary.  Please.  I need your help."  

        Mary looked over at Martha and back at Jesus.  

        "My Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!" [17]

        He stood up and walked over to her.  "Martha.  Martha.  You are worried and upset about so many things when only one thing is
really needed.  [18]

        "Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."  [19]

        "But Master.  All the food."  

        "My sister," Lazarus added.  "You have your meat cooking.  And I saw you make the bread.  That's all we need."  

       "But all my special recipes.  It was going to be so special when
Jesus came for dinner tonight." She was nearly in tears.  

        "Martha.  What is special is you.  Not the food you cook or the house you fix up for us, or the way you look.  You are what is
special," one of the disciples added.  [20]

       "Yes.  Come sit with us.  The Master has much more to give you than you can ever give him.  He needs very little.  But he has so
very much you and I and all of us need.  Come sit down with us."  

        Mary walked over to Martha and took her hand.  "Is the bread in the oven?"she whispered.  

        "Well, yes."  

       "We'll sit here and listen to him until it is done.  Then we'll slip over, get it and serve everyone.  Then we can listen to him while they
eat."  

        Mary smiled.  Martha smiled.  "Come on."  

        Martha looked over at Jesus.  "I just wanted everything to be so special when you came to dinner tonight."  

        Indeed it was special.  For Martha finally stopped in the midst of all her running, and shared the very best that she had ~ friendship
with the Savior of the world. [21]
                                            THOUGHT QUESTIONS

                                            Part 1 ~ Getting Prepared

1.        Under what circumstances do you usually set your alarm clock to get up earlier than usual?  Although it is difficult, do you tend to consider
yourself the ultimate "worthy" (Proverbs 31:15) when you do?

2.        When you set your alarm to get up early, what kinds of things can nullify the extra effort (Ecclesiastes 5:16)?

3.        Consider the foresightedness demonstrated in Genesis 41:35,36.  What are some foods you can fix ahead of time and store to save yourself some
work later for company?

4.        On busy days, the phone is just as likely to ring as on ordinary days.  Some people call just to talk and pass the time.  What are some tactful
ways you can get off the phone without making the person feel they aren't important enough to talk to (Proverbs 16:20-22a)?

5.        Martha had great faith (John 22:20-27).  There are times on busy days that you have opportunities to do a good work, to encourage or teach
someone.  How should you handle these opportunities (Luke 10:30-33)?

6.        Cleaning the carpet, scrubbing walls, washing curtains, cleaning out cupboards - they are major things that need to be
done.  Did you ever decide to do a major cleaning just before company came?  How did it affect you?  How did it affect your company?  Read Proverbs
24:3.

7.        Read Esther 1:4-7.  What are some ways you can prepare yourself ahead of time to demonstrate to your special company how highly you think
of them?

                                                    Part 2 ~ The Agenda

8.        Is it possible to neglect your family while preparing for company (1 Timothy 5:8)?  How can this be avoided?

9.        Why do you think people try to impress others with being the best at something?  Is it really for their benefit or yours (Proverbs 16:18,19)?

10.        Have you ever tried a new recipe on company?  What are the chances of it turning out perfect?  Is a day with company the time to try it?  Why
(Proverbs 13:16)?

11.        Jesus later told Martha she had been distracted with many things (Luke 10:40).  How can you organize a busy day ahead of time so distractions
don't affect you and add to your burdens (Ecclesiastes 3:1)?

12.        Have you ever gone shopping on a rushed day to get something you really needed, but browsed first resulting in your not having time to get just
what you went for?  How did you feel when you got home?  Would the woman in Proverbs 31:27 do this?

13.        Have you ever done some early preparation for company, got over-confident and let the time slip up on you?  (See Matthew 25:1-8.)  How can
you avoid this "tortoise-and-hare" syndrome?

14.        Making a new dress or new curtains or new table cloth, etc. just before company arrives is very tempting.  Have you ever done this?  Why?  
Consider Matthew 6:21.  What was the end result of your last-minute endeavor?

15.        Apparently Martha had let a lot of important things go until the last minute.  Obviously she thought that everything she'd done that day was
important.  She, perhaps like you, had been too hard on herself and expected too much of herself.  How can you decide just what is important so you
can be gracious hostesses?  Could Matthew 6:24 help in some way?

16.        Because of much but poor preparation, Martha did not make a good hostess.  Recall a time when you had to send someone else to the door to
greet the guests and then to entertain them until you got ready.  How do you think it made your guests feel (Luke 12:36, 37)?


                                            Part 3 ~ Selfless Giving

17.        Joy turns to panic because of poor preparation.  Then tempers become short and you can say things you shouldn't.  Your plan to be such great
hostesses can backfire completely.  Recall some similar experiences where you put yourself on a guilt trip over it all, and then became angry if someone
else didn't share that "guilt trip" with you.  How did Saul do this to his son (1 Samuel 14:24, 27-30, 44-45)?

18.        In the original language of the Bible, Luke says that what Martha was doing was encumbering herself with too many things (Luke 10:40-41).  
This is not what Martha said about herself - having to serve alone.  Jesus never condemned serving.  So apparently she was in the kitchen wearing
herself out on non-essentials or essentials that should have been done days before.  What is the difference in busy work and true serving?

19.        The original Bible language says Mary chose that which was better (10:42).  Jesus did not say what Martha was trying to do was bad; but now
there was something better to do with her time (10:39, 42).  How can you distinguish between temporal good and eternal good, and then arrange your
time accordingly?  Give examples of typical every-day choices.

20.        A psychologist writing about shyness once said that you cannot be so intelligent, so talented, so witty, so anything to make you iresistable for
others to love you.  Look up 1 Samuel 18:7,8.  People do not love you so much for what you do or are, but for how you make them feel about
themselves - how you focus on and love THEM.  That love for them makes it nearly impossible to keep them from loving you in return (1 John 4:19).  
Do you ever try to earn or "buy" other people's love?  How will you change that?

21.        Is there someone you know who is not exceptional in anything they do except what they do for others?  How do you feel about that person?  
What will you do to be like that person (1 Kings 17:12-16)?