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Mary and Martha

Lesson Set

Workshops in this lesson set:

  • Cooking: hospitality in Jesus' day and the types of food Martha may have prepared for her guests.
  • Drama: enact the story; relate to Mary and Martha and recognize the importance of listening for God. moved here.
  • Games: Game to learn names & a question game to teach life application of the story.

Luke 10:38-42

Concepts & Points to Ponder:
Vary slightly for each workshop - see individual workshops.

Cooking Workshop

Martha's Kitchen in Bethany

By Lisa Bohbrink

Summary of Lesson Activities:
hospitality in Jesus' day and the types of food Martha may have prepared for her guests.

Scripture Reference:
Luke 10:38-42

Lesson Objective:
Develop understanding of the importance of hospitality in Jesus day and the types of food Martha may have prepared for her guest

Supplies List:

  • Ingredients for the recipes.
  • Kitchen tools.

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture ahead of time.
  • Gather the materials.
  • Go over the recipes.


Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

The Shepherds will introduce you to the class and turn their attention over to you. The Shepherds will help you know their group and control behavior.  By the second or third rotation week most students will know the story and become bored with too much recap. Rely on the Shepherds for clues.

Pray: Here is an example. “Dear creator of us and the world. We’re so glad to have friends to share meals with. Thank you for helping us learn about Jesus and how he was welcomed by his friends.”

If necessary give an overview of the story of Martha and Mary or let the class tell the story!

Dig - Main Content and Reflection:

What might Martha have prepared? Let’s make some foods from that time.

  1. Have the class wash hands like good children of Israel.
  2. Make the Hummus in individual baggies.
  3. Have the class tear pita bread to dip in it.

I have included other appropriate, easy recipes that you could add.


The older classes could do a whole feast. For them you could divide the tasks and make several recipes. After the food is prepared have a blessing and eat.

As you work you can talk about the following historical points (or save them, if time fillers are needed at the end.)

Historical Concepts & Points to Ponder While Cooking:

  • Hospitality and welcome have always been important in the middle east. Joining with someone to break bread is considered to be intimate.
  • The Children of Israel always washed hands before praying and prayed before eating. To this day Orthodox Jews practice ritual washing before meals.
  • Jesus was raised in close proximity to an Essene community. They were a Messianic sect. They believed that each meal was an event for which they expected the Messiah to come. Therefore every meal is a cause for serious celebration. Essenes practiced vegetarianism; some scholars believe that Jesus was a vegetarian because of the Essene influence.
  • Keep the kids aware of the challenges faced by Martha, no refrigerator, no stove, no blender, no sharp knife, no grocery store, no running water.


Allow time for the Shepherds to work on standards at the end of class.


  • Smith, Jeff. The Frugal Gourmet Keeps the Feast: Past, Present, and Future. 1995
  • Goodman, Naomi, et al. The Good Book Cookbook, Recipes from Biblical Times. 1986

A lesson written by Lisa Bohbrink from Saint Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church
Wilmington, NC

A representative of reformatted this post to improve readability and added a fun game workshop title to tie-in with the others.

Martha's Recipes from Bethany


  • 2 16 ounce cans garbanzo beans (chick peas)
  • ½ cup Tahini (sesame paste) in the ethnic food area of the grocery
  • Juice of 1 lemon (bottled okay)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • garnishes: 2 tablespoons olive oil; chopped Italian parsley

Directions:  Drain the juice from one can of beans. Place the drained beans in a food processor (or blender) and add the second can of beans, water and all. Add the tahini, lemon juice, and garlic, and blend until very smooth. Spread onto a plate an top with the garnishes. Serve with vegetables and pita bread.

For Class Prep: Divide the beans among enough qt. Size freezer zip-loc bags for each child. In a bowl mix the drained bean water, tahini, lemon juice and garlic. Divide this mix among the bags (pass the bowl to each child instruct them to get a spoonful and pass on). Help the kids zip up the bags. Mash, mash, mash until it’s mooosh!

Honeyed Cream


  • 1 Pint plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup honey

Directions:  In small bowls place individual portions of yogurt. Pass around a bowl of honey so each person can stir in a few tablespoons.

Tidbit: Biblical households had small wooden bowls used exclusively to serve milk and honey at the end of meals.



  • 3 c. apples chopped
  • ¾ c. almonds or walnuts, chopped
  • ¾ c. grape juice (traditionally sweet wine)
  • ½ tsp. Cinnamon
  • ½ c. dates, chopped
  • ½ c. raisins

Directions:  Combine all ingredients, serve immediately. This could be done with plastic knives.

Tidbit: This Passover dish symbolizes the mortar the Hebrew slaves used in building the Egyptian pyramids.



  • 2 c. whole-wheat flour
  • ¾ c. water


  1. Combine flour and water thoroughly with wooden spoon.
  2. Dust the top of this mixture with a small amount of flour.
  3. Flour hands and knead the dough lightly for 3 min.
  4. Divide into 6-8 balls, rounding them with floured hands.
  5. Oil a cookie sheet or use a heavy one that does not require oiling.
  6. Place balls on cookie sheet. Press down each ball with hands to make a flat cracker about 5 in. in diameter. Prick with a fork to prevent swelling.
  7. Bake for 10 min. at 500.
  8. Remove matzos and serve soon if they are to be served soft. Otherwise, turn off the oven and leave the matzos in until the oven is cool.

    They will now have the consistency of crisp bread and can be stored in airtight canisters for long periods.
  9. Serve with soups and cheese spreads.

Tidbit: To qualify for Passover use today, no more than 17 minutes may elapse from the time the flour is moistened, to placing in the oven.

Other Food Suggestions:

Foods seasonally available in the Holy Land during Jesus time (some available only to the wealthy!): cucumbers, beans, artichokes, anise, fennel, leeks, lentils, mustard greens, onions, apricots, dates, figs, grapes, melon, olives, pomegranates, raisins, quinces (apples), cinnamon, cumin, mustard, saffron, bay leaves, capers, dill, garlic, hyssop, parsley (flat), sage, thyme, barley, bulgur, wheat, millet, sesame, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, beef, fish, fowl, lamb, pigeons, quail, butter, milk (cow & sheep), yogurt, honey, vinegar, wine

Games Workshop

Balancing our time with Martha & Mary

Written by Sue and Mara McCaffray

Summary of Lesson Activities:
Game to learn names & question game to teach life application of the story.

Scripture Reference:
Luke 10:38-42

Lesson Objectives:

  • Where this story is in the Bible.
  • That Jesus does not want us to be too busy for him.
  • That making time for Jesus is the most important thing we can chose to do.
  • We will review the names of our Sunday School friends and build community.


  • Bibles
  • a small hand-sized toy to pass around
  • Mary & Martha game cards

Preparation before class:

  • Before the first class decide where a dividing line roughly halfway across the room is (the children will advance toward this line from opposite walls and we want them to have a good space between the wall and the line). Place a line of masking tape along this line across the whole room.
  • Prepare game cards by writing or typing the questions at the end of this lesson set onto individual index cards or pieces of paper. (Use something that will hold up for five lessons!)


Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Teacher Notes:  Have the children sit in a big circle on the floor. Have your “secret” toy in your pocket or hand and sit in the circle with the children.

Open by asking if anyone would like to share something exciting or good that happened to them this week. Encourage volunteers to talk about their interests for a few minutes. The point of this exchange is to let the children get to know each other a bit.

After a few minutes of this ask if anyone would like to share a worry or concern. After this conversation dies down, offer an opening prayer thanking God for this community of friends who come together to learn about the Lord.

While still sitting in the circle, explain this game "Getting to Know Each Other".

  1. You will pass around a secret toy; everyone is to pass it without showing it to the group.
  2. When you pass it to the person sitting next to you, you say, “This is a Wumple” (you can make up any nonsense name you like).
  3. The next person will pass it on saying, “Mrs. ____ (your name) says this is a Wumple.”

    If that person was Lisa, then the next person in the circle will say this as he passes it: Lisa says that Mrs. _____ says that this is a Wumple.

    It goes on like this all the way around so that everyone has to say the names of all the preceding people (Robert says that Lisa says that Mrs. ____ says that this is a Wumple).
  4. To be a good sport, you should do the whole group when the Wumple comes back to you!

Dig - Main Content and Reflection:

While still sitting, have volunteers pass out Bibles to each child.


For grades 1-2, you read this story while the children follow along in their own Bibles.

For grades 3-5, have volunteers read – there are just five verses, so one child could read each verse. Pause as the story is being read to make the following points (you can ask for them to comment, but if they do not have anything to say, you fill in these points).

Say before starting:

Jesus had friends like everyone else does, and he liked to visit them for dinner and conversation. Some of his best friends were three brothers and sisters named Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Often when Jesus went to visit his friends all of his disciples came along with him (and how many were there in all?); also, it was not unusual that Jesus would talk and teach while he was visiting his friends. Everyone was hungry to hear what Jesus had to say because they knew he was someone very special.

Try to imagine having Jesus as a dinner guest in your home. How would you react to this? What would you want to do?

Read story.

After verse 40 ask:

  • What did Mary do when Jesus came?
  • What did Martha do?
  • Why was Martha upset?

After verse 42, ask:

  • What did Jesus say to Martha?
  • What do you think Jesus wanted Martha to do?
  • What was good about what Mary did?
  • What do you think Jesus meant when he said, “ Only one thing is needed”?
  • What do you think that one thing might have been?

After the children have their say, explain the following in your own words (if it has not already come out in the discussion):

Perhaps the one thing that is needed is to make time for Jesus when he comes to us. Even though it is good to be busy sometimes, and it is necessary for us to do work such as cooking, cleaning, washing clothes and so on, we should never be too busy with either our work or our fun to listen to Jesus.

Say: We are going to play a game now that will help us answer this question:
Since Jesus does not come over to our house for dinner as he did with Mary and Martha, what are some ways that we can make time for Jesus in our lives now?

  • What does it mean to make time for Jesus?
  • What does it mean to be too busy for Jesus?
  • What does Jesus really ask us to do for him today?

(If children respond to these questions, follow up for a few minutes, if time permits. If not, just go to the game, because the game should help to answer these questions.)

Life Application Game (Backwards/Forwards Game)

  1. Have the children count off by twos; have all the ones line up with their backs against one of the walls and the twos line up on the wall opposite them.
  2. This is a game where children will each draw cards out of a hat, read the statement to the whole class and take the number of steps indicated.

    To make it work smoothly, have two “hats,” each containing half of the cards.

    One teacher can pass the hat to each team.
  3. Start with the child whose birthday is closest to the day of the lesson. Have that child line up at one end of the line on his/her team.
  4. After child # 1 has a turn, the first child on the opposite side will have his/her turn. Then you will return to the next child on team one. Go on in this manner until everyone on each side has a turn and then return to the first player.
  5. Have the children return the cards to the hat after each turn and shake them up.
  6. Some of the factual questions will be easier for a player who gets them after someone else has answered correctly, but explain that there are no winners or losers in this particular game.

The younger children may need for you to read their card for them.

It is important for the whole class to hear each statement, so all players should pay attention.

You can modify the instructions by calling for “giant steps” or “baby steps” depending on how fast children are moving toward the middle and how much time you have. Or, you could play the game more than once. But it is important for each child to have at least one turn, and preferably more.

Continue until everyone reaches the middle.

When you conclude the game say that the line in the middle of the room stands for balance: for balancing our activities and our responsibilities with our need to make time for Jesus every day.

Then turn the children over to the shepherds.

A lesson written by Sue and Mara McCaffray from Saint Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church
Wilmington, NC

A representative of reformatted this post to improve readability and added a fun game workshop title to tie-in with the others.


You get up in time for Sunday School even though you stayed up late for a sleepover. Go ahead 2.

You stayed up late watching t.v. and don’t wake up in time for church. Go back 2.

You mean to tell a friend you’re sorry that her grandmother is sick, but you keep forgetting. Go back 1.

If you know who Mary and Martha’s brother was, go ahead 3.

If you know what book of the Bible the Mary and Martha story is in, move ahead 3.

You help your dad with chores instead of playing video games. Go ahead 2.

You write your grandfather a letter. Go ahead 2.

You skip choir practice so you can watch your favorite t.v. show. Go back 2.

If you can name the 4 Gospels (first 4 books of the New Testament) go ahead 3.

You remember to say your prayers 7 nights in a row. Go ahead 2.

You fall asleep during the sermon in church. Go back 2.

You give up recess to help a classmate with his math. Go ahead 2.

You decide to pray about a hard decision you have to make. Go ahead 3.

In church you really talk to God during prayer time. Go ahead 3.

For one week you remember to thank God for each new morning. Go ahead 2.

You whisper to your friend about the basketball game all through the Sunday School lesson. Go back 2.

You tell your mother you will take out the trash, but you put it off ‘til later and then forget. Go back 2.

You offer to lead prayer at dinnertime for your family. Go ahead 3.

You lose your Bible. Go back 1.

You go to an Amigos service meeting on Sunday afternoon. Go ahead 1.

You decide to read your Bible a little bit every day. Go ahead 3.

If you know what a parable is go ahead 3.

If you know which sister stayed in the kitchen working, go ahead 3.

A comment posted as a reply to the games workshop:

Kathryn wrote:
What a great idea for a game! The only modification I plan to make is to ask the child to decide if they want to make a baby step or giant step before he or she knows if the move is forward or backward. This looks like fun. Thanks for sharing. Kathryn

Last edited by Luanne Payne
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