Image
 

  Blog

At His Feet

Print Friendly
 
 

Many of you are familiar with the story of Mary and Martha – sisters who were personal friends of Jesus. One day when Jesus was visiting, Martha (a great hostess) was naturally busy in the kitchen “distracted with all the preparations that had to be made” while Mary lounged at Jesus’ feet listening to what he had to say.

Martha became indignant. She demanded that Jesus do something about her lazy sister. “Tell her to help me!” she said. Jesus patiently informed Martha that Mary had “chosen what was better.”

For the most part, this story teaches us the importance of setting aside distractions and busyness to spend time with Jesus. I’d like to suggest there may be something more.

Women Labeled Unworthy of Learning

The rabbis of Jesus’ day believed it was inappropriate for women to learn. Women were viewed as “light-minded” and unworthy of being taught. They interpreted Deuteronomy 11:19 to mean “and you shall teach them (words of God) to your sons and not your daughters.” Deuteronomy 11:19 actually says, “Teach them to your children . . .”

 

Rabbi Eleizer is quoted as saying, “They shall burn the teachings of Torah rather then convey them to women” (ySot 3.4, 19a). Rabbi Eliezer also stated, “A woman has no wisdom except in handling her spindle, for it is written, ‘And all the women that were wise-hearted did spin with their hands.’” (From the book Every Woman in the Bible by Sue and Larry Richards; copyright 1999 by Lawrence O. Richards)

What Really Bothered Martha

Culturally, Mary’s actions were extraordinary and bold. She had stepped over the line – but she didn’t care. While Martha was distracted and busy, Mary was focused on one thing – the heart of Jesus. She loved him and wanted nothing more than to be close to him, drinking in every word he said.

In Luke 10:41 Jesus noted that Martha was upset and worried about many things. Those many things went beyond Mary’s responsibilities in the kitchen. Martha understood and embraced the traditional roles of women in Jewish society. Could it be she was upset about more than just the fact that her sister wasn’t helping her? Is it possible she was upset because Mary had stepped outside the cultural boundaries for women of that time? Was she frightened and embarrassed to see Mary act this way? Was Martha really asking Jesus to put Mary in her place?

Choosing What’s Better

In verse 42 Jesus replied, “Only one thing is needed” and “Mary has chosen what is better.” He also said, “and it will not be taken from her.” What do you think he meant?

” . . . for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15

“He (Jesus) replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life . . . nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

 Martha viewed staying within the boundaries of a woman’s role (as defined by society) as being “better.” She most likely believed she and Mary should stick to that role.

When Jesus said Mary had chosen what was better, he wasn’t denigrating a woman’s role in the home. We all know a woman’s role in the home is crucial to the health and well-being of the entire family. 

 

In this passage, Jesus was simply affirming women and inviting them to something new and wonderful – studying scripture and learning directly from Him (i.e., sitting at his feet). His view was in direct opposition to the views of the religious leaders.

A Lesson from Martha and Mary

In this story it’s important to recognize Jesus’ deep love for women. He values their company and wants them to know him personally. Their spiritual development is extremely important to him. He has a fervent desire to teach each of us individually. Bottom line: He’s sweet on us girls!

What about you? Do you spend time “sitting at his feet” as you pray and study the Bible? Depending on the part of the world you live in . . . or the college you attend . . . or the culture around you . . . or the family you’re a part of . . . it may take courage. You may have to step across the line and out of your comfort zone. You might be ridiculed and it might even be dangerous. But the reward is more than worth it! You will encounter the very real, very safe, and very loving, Jesus Christ.   

With great confidence in the character of God . . .

Lisa ~

Leave a Reply