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A Disciple's Priority | Luke 10: 38-42

A Disciple’s Priority | Luke 10:38-42

What is a disciple’s priority?

What is your number one priority in life?

Certainly, priorities differ for different people and it is our values that help determine our priority. So, as a believer of Jesus, what is your priority? We need to understand that Jesus not only called us to be believers but to be his disciples. So, have you ever thought as a disciple what is the number one thing you need to do?

A Disciple’s Priority

Before we get into the passage, I want you to see how Luke arranges his gospel for a better understanding of the context.

Context Information


Birth (1:1 – 2:52). His birth was in Bethlehem.

Preparation for Ministry (3:1 – 4:13). He was in Nazareth in Galilee.

Ministry in Galilee (4:14 – 9:50)

The journey towards Jerusalem (9:51 – 19:44) and then

Jesus’ Suffering, Death and Resurrection (19:45 – 24:53)

The passage we are going to see today is in the section where it’s about Jesus and his Journey towards Jerusalem (9:51 – 19:44). Also in this section, the main emphasis is discipleship where Jesus is teaching his disciples. So here, Jesus initiates a new way to follow God, by listening to him. All are invited to follow the new way, but some reject it and the Jewish leaders of the day refused the new way and began to plot to kill Jesus.

This section begins with the narrative of Jesus entering the house of Martha and Mary. I think Luke has an interest in showing his readers that a disciple must take the posture of Mary to the Lord’s teaching and so must sit at the feet of Jesus. Let’s read that section:

Luke 10:38-42

38As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

So, Luke is giving us the priority of sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to his word.

Number One Priority of a Disciple: I must learn the word of God every day.


Sandhu Sundar Singh, made a perceptive statement when he said, “One day I was sitting on the banks of a river. I took from the water around stone and I broke it. Inside it was perfectly dry. That stone had been lying in the water for a long time but the water had not penetrated it.” Then I thought that the same thing happened to some church goes. For decades they have been a believer but a believer’s priority has not penetrated them.”

See what Luke puts next, We must understand that chapter division and verse divisions have come later and then in the next section Luke writes is on the priority of prayer.

Luke 11:1-5

1One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” 2He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3Give us each day our daily bread. 4Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’”

The first priority is to be taken care of

Coming back to listening to Jesus’ teaching, we need to take the posture of Mary and sit at his feet. Firstly, I must say I admire and respect the ones who take time to come every Sunday to hear the word of God. Secondly, It’s important to understand that the word of God has power in it and the word has the ability to change our lives.

Therefore there is only one priority for a Christian and that is to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn the scripture. So, if the first priority is taken care of, all other priorities will fall into place.

In the Old Testament, David had this perspective.

Psalm 27:4

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. Now the Old Testament saint, David, had reduced his life to one thing, one single priority, and he said it was to behold the beauty of the Lord.

In the New Testament Paul had his priority.

Philippians 3:13-14

13Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Goal and prize are to become like Jesus. The scripture enables to reach that goal.

In this passage, we hear from the mouth of Jesus the number one priority needed for a disciple: Luke 10:42 …but few things are needed—or indeed only one.

So this is the first priority for us. If you miss this, you have missed everything else in life. You need to listen to God.

Three Ways God Speaks To Us

1. God speaks through his Son, Jesus Christ

Jesus said to the Pharisees who questioned his testimony and authority.

John 8:25-26

25“Who are you?” they asked. “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. 26“I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”

John 8:28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.

John 8:40

As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God.

John 7:16

Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me.

John 15:15

….. I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

2. God Speaks Through His Servants Whose Source Is The Scripture

God speaks through us when his servants speak the word of God.

Acts 17:1-4 1When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days, he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said. 4Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.

1 Thessalonians 1:5-6

….our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

God speaks to us through his servants from the Scriptures. See how to speak in v5 and then how to receive the message in v6. However, a believer has to test from the scripture what a servant of God speaks or test the prophecy by God’s word.

Look at the Berean Christians.

Acts 17:10-11

10As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

God speaks to us when there is a prophetic message. 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22 20Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22reject every kind of evil.

3. God Speaks Through The Scripture.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT

16All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

God-breathed means living to give. The word of God gives life. Just like in creation God breathed into man and man became a living being, the word of God is life-giving.

Jesus is divine-human living Word (John 1)

John 1:1

In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

The Bible is the human-divine Word of God. The Bible is written by men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

So Inspiration of Scripture is not equivalent to dictation.

Authorship of the Scripture

It is not helpful to think of God as the “author” of Scripture as if he wrote the writings we have in the Bible. It is rather useful to think of God as the One “authorizing” the writings of human writers who are tradents/participants in the faith community.

“Thus the human documents of Scripture carry divine authority so that the claim for God’s ‘authorship’ of Scripture is not a literary one, but rather a theological one…. We in the church have found them trustworthy, true and reliable.

Walter Brueggemann, An Introduction to the Old Testament (2003), 398

The Scripture is reliable, trustworthy in what it reveals about God and God’s purposes.

It is an authoritative and accurate record of God’s dealings with his people.

It has God’s power to transform and bring life to individuals and communities.

The primary way God speaks today is through his word. Therefore, the priority of a disciple must be to sit at the feet of Jesus and also to study the scripture.

Coming back to Martha and Mary:

Martha is likely the oldest because she’s usually named first when Martha and Mary are named.

Jesus went to their house.

They believe in the Lord.

Luke 10:40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

They called him Lord or Kurios. Most probably they heard the gospel from the 70s, So they took Jesus in and this hospitality was only equaled by Abraham and Sarah having God and two angels come for dinner. Mary becomes the central figure for all of us here. Jesus was teaching and Mary was listening. Martha also called Jesus Lord but she was not listening to Jesus. A lot of people call Jesus “Lord, I believe you,” but it isn’t the priority for them to come and hear the Lord speak, to know His Word.

Who is a true disciple? A true disciple is the one who hears God’s word and obeys it.

Luke 8:20-21

20Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” 21He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”

Luke 11:27-28

27As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” 28He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

A true believer or a true disciple is the one who hears God’s word and obey it.

Jesus said that about Mary: Luke 10:42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

But Martha was distracted with all her preparations and there’s nothing wrong with hospitality; however, it’s commanded in the Bible that our spiritual gifts should not hinder us from hearing God’s word. well, we see that Martha has a twisted priority here.

Now before you condemn Martha, let’s ask ourselves what is it that keeps us from being here to hear the Word of God? What occupies us on Sunday mornings, Wednesday nights and other times when we could hear the Word of God?


Priorities are an issue in the church today and David Wilkerson addresses this issue, “A priority is an importance you place on something. And Christians who neglect prayer have perverted their priorities! Many believers pledge they’ll pray if and when they can find the time. Yet each week, seeking Christ becomes less important to them than washing the car, cleaning the house, visiting friends, eating out, going shopping, watching sports. They simply don’t make time to pray.

“Yet people were no different in the days of Noah and Lot. Their top priorities were eating and drinking, buying and selling, marrying and caring for their families. They had no time to listen to messages of God’s coming judgment. And so no one was prepared when judgment fell! Evidently, nothing has changed over the centuries. For most Americans, God remains at the bottom of the priority list. And at the top are income, security, pleasure, family. Of course, for many Americans, God doesn’t even make the list. But that doesn’t grieve the Lord nearly as much as how little he’s valued by his own children!”

What Happens When Our Priority Is Misplaced?

Look at the life of Martha, She certainly got frustrated.

a. We can get frustrated.

Martha condemned her sister.

b. We can tend to condemn others.

Martha justified herself.

c. Self-Justification.

Therefore, the first priority for a believer is to read and obey the word of God.

Deuteronomy 8:3

…man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Nothing is as important as divine truth. It is the priority.

The Benefits of the Word of God

The word of God is the source of

Creative power

Genesis 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God wants us to meditate the word, heart the word, and speak the word of God. The word of God has healing power.

Psalm 107:20 He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.


John 17:17  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

God’s blessing

Luke 11:28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.


Ephesians 6:17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. The word of God is the sword of the Spirit. It is a weapon against forces of darkness.


1 Peter 2:2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.


Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.


Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.


Psalm 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

Accomplish God’s work

Isaiah 55:10-11

10As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

The word of God is powerful

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

When you come to church, come with great expectation to hear the word of God. Also, believe that I am going to receive something from God and God is going to change the circumstances for me.



There was an old man who lived on a farm in the mountains of eastern Kentucky with his young grandson. So each morning Grandpa was up early and would sit at the kitchen table reading from his old worn-out Bible. His grandson, who wanted to be just like him, tried to imitate him in any way he could so, this little boy noticed that his grandfather would read the bible every day. Which made the little boy rise a question and so he asked his grandfather; Grandpa why do you read the same book over and over again?

The grandfather replied that it was because he is an old man and he keeps forgetting whatever he reads. Then after some time, he asked this little boy to do something for him.

He asked him to empty the coal basket and fetch some water in it from the nearby river. The boy who was so obedient took the basket and did so, but by the time he reached back to his grandpa, there was no water left.

So the old man asked him to do the same again and the little boy agreed. however, the same thing repeated and the little boy was a bit disappointed.

Yet again the old man asked him to do the same, to go get some water in the basket that had coal in it. This time the little boy was a little hesitant but however, he obeyed his grandpa. Now this time when he got the basket back it was yet the same thing, it was empty, and this made the little boy really disappointed and confused.

The twist in understanding the Priority

Now the old man asked his grandson to observe the basket carefully and he did so. So as he did, he noticed that the basket looked different. It was clean. Every time he tried getting water, he could not but he did not realize that every time he did so, the basket was actually getting cleaned.

Likewise, my friends. what happens when we read the Bible over and over again? Well, we might not understand everything, but when we read it changes us inside out.

And that’s what the little boy understood that day from his grandfather that day and it is also a reminder to all of us.

Let’s commit ourselves to read the Bible and meditating on it today onwards, Make a decision to prioritize studying the scripture in your life and God will bless you abundantly. Amen!