Wants and Needs. We often use the two words interchangeably, yet they are so totally different.
Take the story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10:38-42. Jesus is traveling with His disciples and in the village of Bethany a woman named Martha opens her home to the weary group. Initially, the sisters are working together in the kitchen, preparing a meal for their guests. But when Jesus begins to teach, Mary slips away to sit near Jesus and listen. Martha realizes what has happened and boldly comes to Jesus to say, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me?”
There is no doubt what Martha wants. And her delivery ensures everyone knows how badly she wants it – “Lord, don’t you care?” (sound familiar?). Jesus listens to what she wants. In spite of the tone, He is not upset or angry; He cares about Martha and hears her out.
But then, Jesus responds in an unexpected manner (at least for Martha). He simply says, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” Jesus does not give Martha what she wants; instead, from the depth of His love for her, He gives her what she needs. Martha needs to find some peace, some freedom from the worries and upsets of life. She needs to release that turmoil in favor of the calm that comes from a connection with Jesus. He was not telling her to stop serving; in John 12 she quietly provides a wonderful banquet for Jesus. Instead, Jesus was telling her that she needed to find rest on the journey in Him.
For centuries the Jews had embraced the prophecies of Messiah, like the one found in Isaiah 9:
“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing it and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”
When they read this, they knew exactly what they wanted. They had no problem envisioning the conquering King who would exercise a powerful reign over a re-emergent and dominate global power, Israel. They could not conceive that it would be any other way. However, God knew what they needed and He sent the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
It is easy to get so consumed with what we want that we miss it when the Lord provides what we need. I am praying for this to be a season when we come with open hearts and open hands to receive what we need from the God who loves us so much. “You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed” – and His name is Jesus.