Mary did two things according to the Scripture. She sat at the feet of Jesus and she heard his word. We can see at least five important characteristics: (1) availability, (2) nearness, (3) a position of service or being teachable, (4) attentiveness, (5) and receptiveness. Mary may have seen all that Martha saw to do. However, she laid aside what she was doing to make herself available to fellowship with Jesus. In spite of whatever fears she may have had, she made a point to get near Jesus. She also positioned herself at the feet of Jesus. She placed herself in a position of a servant, allowing Jesus to control the situation. A student or disciple would also place themselves at the feet of a teacher. Mary was open to what Jesus had to tell her. She received what he taught.
Martha had a sincere desire to be able to relate (fellowship) to Jesus, for she was the one who invited Jesus into their home. However, she was "cumbered about with much serving." The word translated "cumbered" actually means "driven". Martha was driven by performance. She was controlled by the thought that she had to perform! She also became judgmental or critical of her sister, Mary. She measured her friendship with Mary by Mary's performance. She said to Jesus, "Don't you care how my sister treats me?" In other words, she felt that even Jesus might not care about her. She also felt left all alone. She told Jesus, "Make Mary come and help me." Again, she became demanding. Jesus responded to Martha, "Martha, Martha, thou are careful and troubled about many things." First, Martha was so caught up in the performance mode that Jesus called her name twice, just to get her attention. Then he spoke the truth in love. "You are full of cares!" "You are disturbed about many things!"
Then Jesus gave her some very wise counsel. He said, "But one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Please notice again, Martha was full of cares and disturbed about many things. However, Jesus expressed that she needed to be only concerned about one thing. What was that one thing? It was to relate (or fellowship) with Jesus. Martha was to make fellowshipping with Jesus the priority! Jesus did not say that performance was to be excluded. However, He said that Mary had chosen the best part. We must make ourselves available, we must get close, we must become teachable, we must be attentive, and we must receive what Jesus says. If we truly hear Him, then we will obey Him.
Jesus also said that this part will not be taken away. I have the responsibility to care for my mother who is 85 years old. I will make a list of medicines, groceries, and hardware supplies, make the necessary stops picking up the merchandise, and take it to Mother who lives a few miles out of town. I unload the supplies, check the bills, and do a few chores. By then, it is time for me to rush back to my office for counseling appointments. My Mother can't understand why I can't stay and talk with her. However, from another point of view, the groceries will be gone in a few days, the dog collar will be old in a few months, and the home fixtures will be gone in a few years. The only good thing that will remain will be the memories of the time I spent visiting with Mother.
If we are to have the proper relationship (fellowship) with others, we must first have Mary's kind of fellowship with Jesus. Then we are to relate to others in the same way. (1) We are to make ourselves available, (2) be willing to get close, (3) place ourselves in a position of service or being taught, (4) be attentive, (5) then hear what they have to share with us.