BREAKING NEW GROUND
Lord, we desire to be taught personally by You.
Read LUKE 10:38–42
At the Home of Martha and Mary
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
a Luke 10:42 Some manuscripts but only one thing is needed
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal.
Although this passage indicates that Jesus and his disciples just happen to encounter Martha and Mary, other passages suggest that he is a regular visitor. The village they live in is Bethany near Jerusalem, a convenient port of call when Jesus is there for the festivals. They know him well. This perhaps explains why Martha could be a bit forthright about the catering demands caused by Jesus and his band: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (40)
The lesson here is often thought to be that Mary and Martha represent two kinds of spirituality, the contemplative and the activist. Yet the deeper lesson suggests that this Mary (a common name at that time) is upsetting local convention and breaking new ground. She is not the only Mary playing the pioneer and having her name remembered (John 12:1–8; 20:11–18).
It all has to do with the place of women in the religious community of the time. There were reservations about the degree to which women could be entrusted with the Law. Mary is sitting at the Lord’s feet and learning from him, just like any of the male disciples. This violates the typical expectations of the time—and perhaps triggered Martha’s irritation.
It is unlikely that Mary is playing the part of the suffragette. It is more likely that she simply loves the Lord, who has welcomed her into the circle of those to whom he is revealing the Father. She is hungry for more. We have noted that there are other women among Jesus’ close associates—and in the early church their number grows steadily. This incident could be read, therefore, as more than a one- off incident. It might be a breakthrough—and if we listen we might hear a crack in the glass ceiling for good and all.
Are you sitting at the foot of Jesus? Are you breaking new ground?
Lord, teach us to long for learning the deeper things of God, like Mary, and not to be satisﬁed with a few crumbs.
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