That Good Part Which Shall Not Be Taken Away

Luke 10:38‑42  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 5
In the closing part of this chapter, we see that the one great thing was to hear Christ's word. This we learn from the approval given to Mary above Martha, who, in a certain sense, was doing a very good thing, for she received Him into her house, and served Him. But there is something better than this, and "Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." In a certain sense, there ought to be laboring to serve Christ, but it is a much better thing to be listening to Himself. The Lord would have His words enter, and have power in the heart.
The only thing that endures forever is the word of the Lord. The wisdom of this world is against it; human reasoning is against it; but the word of God is the only thing worth waiting upon diligently. If a Christian is real coning about circumstances, instead of appealing to the word-"Thus saith the Lord"-he is sure to be going down in his own soul. The principle insisted on in this closing narrative of the chapter is the same as that which the. Lord taught when He said, "Rejoice that your names are written in heaven," in contrast to demons being subject to them. We want the word in our hearts, and to be sitting at Christ's feet.
Religiousness is amiable enough for this world, but that will not enter heaven. We must have Christ in our hearts; for the world is fading away, and only he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.
It was through sitting at the feet of Jesus that Mary so learned to anticipate His death, and the value of His person, as to cause her to take the ointment of spikenard, and, in the full affection of her heart, to expend it in anointing His feet. For Mary alone anointed His body for the burying; and we do not find her at the sepulcher, nor yet at the cross. She thought only of resurrection, because she knew that men's souls were ruined, and that He came to deliver them.
The thing pressed in these verses is not so much that Martha was cumbered in preparing a meal, but that Mary was hearing the word. For the great thing the Lord delighted in was the hearing ear for His word. "Of his own will begat he us by the word of truth." God was now by His own word bringing in truth to people's souls. Of course, they might have their ears closed against it; but that is another thing. "Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Christ was the living word; and He says, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." The truth sets everything in its right place, or it is not truth. It sets all in the full light of God. Truth sets man in his place, or it is not truth. It sets sin in its place, or it is not truth. It sets righteousness in its place, or it is not truth. It sets love in its place, or it is not truth. And it sets God in His place, or it is not truth. In one sense, truth never came until Christ came; for I do not tell the truth about God, unless I tell that He is love; and that never came out till Christ came. The law said nothing about it; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. Everything was morally set right by Him. I do not may that men saw it. The law is put in contrast with what Christ came to declare. "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
The written word is now the instrument of revealing truth. The law was holy, just, and good, because it was of God. The law convicted men of sin, but itself was not truth in this way. It told men what they ought to do; but while it told men 'that they ought to love God with all their heart, it told nothing in itself of what man was. But what man ought to be, it did tell. "This do and thou shalt live." It did not tell man he was a lost sinner, and could not do it; it did not tell man what was his condition; it told nothing of the truth in this way; it merely gave an abstract thought of what man ought to be. Neither did the law tell what God was; for the law in itself was merely the abstract hypothetical principle that " the man that doeth these things shall live by them." Of course, I need not say that man could' not do them, and therefore the law was I not the truth-this came by Jesus Christ. Christ comes in as the light' and says, you are all dead in sin, but I can give you life-that is truth. He says, God is love, and God has manifested His love to a poor, sinful, lost-world, or wherefore am I here? That is truth. Christ's coming into the world showed how everything stood in the world, and put everything in its true place, both as to man and God. His coming showed that Jew, as well as Gentile, were alike slaves to sin and Satan, and that the truth was needed to make them free. Therefore Christ came, not only in grace and truth, but in love also, for He came to bring home to the heart and conscience of man his real state before God, and to show the remedy. Christ was the living word. He comes in testimony, and tells what God was-not now in redemption, but in testimony. Therefore of what value to Him was Martha's cumbered service, in comparison of a soul, whom He had come to save, listening to His word? It is just the same now with a Christian. When God's word comes, it has a title over man's heart to make him believe it. "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth." His word has its claim on the hearts of those who hear it, and when received it is life. It makes its way by its own authority to the soul. There is no living power in a miracle to put life into a man's soul, but there is living power in the word. And there is never a soul saved but by the word of God; for it is the word that tells of the blood shed in redemption. A person may believe because of miracles. Many did in that day, but Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because it was merely a natural conviction on the mind, without any living power in the soul. It must be Christ in the heart; and it is by the word that any Soul can get into heaven. By the word of God a soul is quickened; for we are begotten by the word, and if the word cannot do it, it will never be done. "Of his own will begat he us by the word of truth." Suppose we could set to work and do a miracle, it would not quicken one soul.
But the word of God also puts men under responsibility. "The word that I have spoken the same shall judge you in the last day." So also it is the "Scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation." Thus we have seen that the quickening power of the word of God is put in contrast with miracles; so that a faith founded, an miracles, as such, is less than nothing and vanity, having no life in it; for it is not in the power of any miracle to convert or quicken a soul.
There are three things constantly pressed in connection with the power of the word of God. First, the word spoken will come against men another day. Secondly, though "perilous times" come, the word of God "is able to make wise unto salvation, through faith that is in Christ Jesus." Thirdly, in a soul that is quickened by the word of God, the moral effect is to make it dependent and obedient. "Sanctified to obedience." Dependence is the characteristic of the new man. The old man would be independent, doing his own will; the new man counts upon God. The Lord's perfectness as a man was His entire dependence on God. He was God, of course; but being found in fashion as a man, He was dependent, and therefore we find Him, at the 'beginning of this chapter, as in other parts of Luke's gospel, "praying," which is the expression of dependence. And so also in Saul of Tarsus, when his own independent will was broken, we have the same expression of dependence. "Behold he prayeth." (Acts 9:1111And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, (Acts 9:11).) When the haughtiness of his will was subdued, his language was, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" From that moment God had His proper place in Paul's soul. Thus do we get the force of the declaration, " But one thing is needful: and Mary bath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."