Imagine yourself in Martha’s shoes, rushing around to care for Jesus with diligence and love. Christ knew the inner workings of her heart. He knew her desires, intent and concerns. He had the opportunity to honor her efforts, but he didn’t; quite the opposite.
If we were to render a modern, more sensitive scenario based on almost all the teaching I have heard, the scene would look something like this (Jesus speaking softly):
“Oh Martha, I am grateful for your desire to serve me. You are a good woman and one who obviously has my best interests at heart. I honor you for that. Please know that I greatly appreciate the love and care you are trying to show me. But please, lay down your concerns and rest a bit with me here along with Mary.”
Instead Jesus says, in effect, “Martha, your focus is wrong,” and “Mary, you are exactly on target.” Just to drive this painful interaction one level deeper, he reproves Martha in front of Mary and anyone else who may have been present. She appeals to him, and he rejects the appeal and corrects her!