Exegesis of Luke 10:38-42
Ἐν δὲ τῷ πορεύεσθαι αὐτοὺς αὐτὸς εἰσῆλθεν εἰς κώμην τινά· γυνὴ δέ τις ὀνόματι Μάρθα ὑπεδέξατο αὐτὸν. καὶ τῇδε ἦν ἀδελφὴ καλουμένη Μαριάμ, ἣ καὶ παρακαθεσθεῖσα πρὸς τοὺς πόδας τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἤκουεν τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ. ἡ δὲ Μάρθα περιεσπᾶτο περὶ πολλὴν διακονίαν· ἐπιστᾶσα δὲ εἶπεν· Κύριε, οὐ μέλει σοι ὅτι ἡ ἀδελφή μου μόνην με κατέλειπεν διακονεῖν; εἰπὲ οὖν αὐτῇ ἵνα μοι συναντιλάβηται. ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῇ ὁ κύριος· Μάρθα Μάρθα, μεριμνᾷς καὶ θορυβάζῃ περὶ πολλά, ὀλίγων δέ ἐστιν χρεία ἢ ἑνός· Μαριὰμ γὰρ τὴν ἀγαθὴν μερίδα ἐξελέξατο ἥτις οὐκ ἀφαιρεθήσεται αὐτῆς. Luke 10:38-42
Translation: And as they traveled, Jesus entered into a village where a woman named Martha received him. And she had a sister named Mary, who stat the feet of Jesus and listened to his words. And Martha was distracted with all the service. She stood by Jesus and said: “Master, are you not concerned that my sister has left me to serve alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one small thing is necessary. For Mary has chosen the best portion. It will not be taken away from her.”
In this passage, the word μεριμνᾷς means, “to be anxious” or “to care for”. In this verse, it is in the present active indicative. It very simply explains the state Martha is in as she works to serve Jesus. This is one of five occurrences of the word throughout Luke’s Gospel and it is the first. It is occurs twice in ch. 12 as a command not to worry. Two further occurrences in ch. 12 are in the form of a question. Jesus phrases the questions to lead the disciples to recognize the futility of worrying. The word’s four occurrences in ch. 12 are all negative and indicate a negative meaning in ch. 10. While Martha’s service is a good thing, her anxiety over all the things which still need doing is not. After Jesus comments on her state, he tells her what she needs: to do what Mary is doing and listen to His words. His words are the cure for her anxieties.