Jesus’s Solution to Stress

Jesus Discourages the Stressed Life

Stress sickens the soul. Yes, stress causes bodily disease (some estimate that 90 percent of doctor visits are stress-related), but it also causes soul disease. Stress and spirituality are mortal enemies. How do I decrease stress and increase spirituality?

The problem existed in Jesus’s day too and in Luke 10:38–42 Jesus diagnosed the problem and issued the prescription.

Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were Jesus’s best friends, aside from his twelve disciples. They lived in Bethany, a suburb of Jerusalem, and Jesus often dropped in on them to be refreshed by their friendship, fellowship, and hospitality.


David Murray

This journey through the book of Luke includes 50 daily devotionals written by David Murray, author of The StoryChanger. Part of the StoryChanger Devotional series, this book features daily readings designed to help you learn, love, and live the Bible. 

When Jesus knocked on the door one day, Martha ran to the kitchen and started fixing a meal for her surprise guest, while Mary sat down at Jesus’s feet to listen to his teaching (Luke 10:38–39).

This was really bugging Martha, who was “distracted with much serving” (Luke 10:40). She’s slaving in the kitchen while her sister’s lounging in the living room. Eventually she lost it, burst into the room, marched up to Jesus, and protested, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me” (Luke 10:40).

Here we have two very different sisters representing two very different ways of living. Mary was preoccupied with Jesus, Martha with herself. Mary saw an opportunity to learn; Martha saw meat and potatoes. Mary was centered on Christ; Martha was distracted from Christ. Mary needed the Lord’s care; Martha felt he didn’t care.

How did Jesus respond? First, he addresses her affectionately: “Martha, Martha.” It’s a term of endearment like “My dear, dear Martha.” Second, he acknowledges her turmoil: “You are anxious and troubled about many things.” Third, he calls her away from many optional things to the one necessary thing (himself): “One thing is necessary.” He’s saying, “Your company means more to me than your cooking. You’ve become so distracted with serving that you’ve forgotten the one you’re trying to serve” (Luke 10:41–42).

A wrong perspective results in wrong priorities.

If stress is the problem, what’s the solution?

Jesus Encourages the Spiritual Life

Jesus pointed to Mary as an example to follow: “Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42). Sitting at a teacher’s feet was like saying, “I am a disciple, a student, of this teacher.” It indicated submission and teachability. Mary appears three times in the Gospels, and each time she is at the feet of Jesus. Here, she listens to his word (Luke 10:39). When Lazarus dies, she falls at his feet and pours out her heart (John 11:32). And she pours out perfume and worship on his feet (John 12:3). Mary sits while Martha stresses.

A wrong perspective results in wrong priorities.

“Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Martha focused on food that would be forgotten, but Mary focused on eternal food that would benefit her forever. Martha was making lots of starters, but Mary had chosen the steak. Martha was preparing a banquet, while Mary was having one.

Jesus essentially said, “Martha, copy your sister. Put down your rolling pin and apron and sit at my feet. Enjoy me, and let me enjoy you. Leave all the other stuff undone and have a calm conversation with me. Unrushed. Unhurried. Let’s sit down and catch up.” In the previous verses, Jesus had preached the law to the lawyer. “Go and do.” Here he preaches the gospel to Martha, “Come and sit.” So kind, so tender.

Spiritual life sprouts by sitting down.

This article is adapted from Luke: Stories of Mission and Mercy by David Murray.

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