Luke 10:42

ESV but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
NIV but few things are needed--or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'
NASB but only one thing is necessary; for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.'
CSB but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her."
NLT There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.'
KJV But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

What does Luke 10:42 mean?

Jesus is in Martha's home, teaching (Luke 10:38). Martha is working hard to show Jesus the utmost hospitality. Meanwhile, her sister Mary sits at Jesus' feet and listens. Luke has just given several stories showing the importance of hospitality, but those acts, themselves, are not the point. The Samaritan showed hospitality because he loved (Luke 10:30–37). The townspeople show hospitality because they want to know more about the kingdom of God (Luke 9:4–5; 10:5–11). Mary does both; Martha is distracted by cultural obligations. She means well but misunderstands the difference between what is "good" and what is "best."

Jesus welcomes Mary as a disciple. Unlike traditional Jewish rabbis of His era, He is eager for women to learn and follow faithfully. This is a double-edged sword for Martha. She is welcome to learn; learning is the best thing; therefore, she is expected to learn. With privilege comes responsibility. Jesus has already showed this by treating Samaritan villages the same as Jewish villages: if they reject His message, they do not receive miracles of healing. Just because someone is disrespected by their culture, they aren't excused for being passive about God's will.

Mary has chosen to take an active role in her spiritual development. Jesus defends her and explains to Martha that Mary has chosen wisely. But Jesus wants the same for Martha. He knows she is "anxious and troubled" when she doesn't have to be (Luke 10:41). He wants her to know she cannot live "by bread alone, but…by every word that comes from the mouth of the ᴏʀᴅ" (Deuteronomy 8:3). Mary's "portion" is Jesus, Himself (Psalm 119:57).

Starting with the parable of the good Samaritan, through Jesus' explanation of the Lord's prayer (Luke 11:1–13), He expounds on the command to love God and love one's neighbor. The parable of the good Samaritan provided a scenario where service to one's neighbor crossed cultural divides and was more urgent than ceremonial religious piety. Mary and Martha show that service sometimes must be set aside if spiritual growth is at stake. To end this section (Luke 9:51—11:13), Jesus gives the Lord's Prayer which teaches that when getting our own needs met, we are always reliant on God (Luke 11:1–13). Next, the Pharisees do everything they can to justify their rejection of Jesus—and Jesus lets them make their choice (Luke 11:14–54).
What is the Gospel?
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