Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luk 10:38-42)
When reading the story of Martha and Mary it is first interesting that Jesus did not intervene between the two sisters. He did not solve Martha’s request for her sister’s help. It is evident right from the start, that there is a family order or tradition tension in this story. What is this tention? Why is it not solved? What is the deeper meaning of this story? Let’s investigate!
Martha welcomed Him into her house – It was hence Martha’s house. Bethany – 2 Miles outside from Jerusalem (John 11:1). Why is it not Lazarus house? It is clear from the amount of people attending the funeral and professional mourners that Lazarus was known.
The stone before the cave, and burial plot of land, was only reserved for the wealthy.
It is also clearly noticeable that there is a special almost like family relationship between Martha, Mary and Jesus given the blunt discussion between Martha as she straight-forward, yet respectfully says. “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21-27) Someone outside of Jesus’ circle looking up at Him would not have been so bold.
Mary anointed Jesus’ feet (John 12:1-8) “took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard”
“Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”
A hundred Denarii was about one annual year’s salary. Thus, very costly, protocolled for use at burials. Mary used in inappropriately as a form of worship, for the living! Having no problem defying and offending Jesus’ disciples and hosts. Another disruption of social order.
v11 Sitting at the feet of a Rabbi – Has was a specific rabbinic expression used exclusively for the students of a certain Rabbi’s way of ordering and seeing the world. Jesus was basically a travelling Rabbi, teacher with his own bible pilgrim bible-school disciples. Jesus had many enemies: Herod, Scribes, Pharisees, Lawyers, Sadducees, Sanhedrin, Zealots.
Rabbi’s yoke – refers to how the Rabbi see the world using parables, hints, references, stories, questions, dramtising, interactions, physical instructions and demonstrations.
To follow a Rabbi, is to do what the Rabbi does. For example Kong-fu marshall Arts – Eastern Education System – learn so you can try it. Modern Education is to test children’s knowledge, Eastern Education is to test the skills of the students to be on the same level as the teacher.
Jesus sends disciples to do what he does, very soon. (Mat 10:1-26)
Here is a revolution:
Mary is seeking to be doing what Jesus does!!
Women does not sit at Rabbi’s feet, in the ancient Jewish Mediterranean World.
Jesus is fine with it! He endorses her publicly!
“Mary has chosen that good part” v42
3310. μερίς merís; gen. merídos, fem. noun from méros (G3313), a part, a share. A part.
(I) A part of a country, a division, province (Acts 16:12; Sept.: Josh. 18:6).
(II) A part assigned, portion, share, used metaphorically (Acts 8:21; see Sept.: Gen. 31:14; Deut. 12:12.) Also portion, lot, destiny as assigned of God (Luke 10:42; see Sept.: Eccl. 3:22; 9:9).
(III) As implying participation, fellowship (2 Cor. 6:15; Col. 1:12; see Sept.: Deut. 10:9).
Jesus was pronouncing declaring a whole new way ordering the world.
The people at the time were under military rule by large powerful empires politically and economically, with scares resources, unequal societal fragmentation and exclusion, brutal survival. Empires always has an insatiable appetite for more power, influence, domination, revenue, taxes, land and resources at the cost of the people.
Jesus healed, delivery, fed, and taught them a whole new way of looking at the world: You are blessed when you are poor, mourning, meek, hungry, persecuted!! You are blessed when you are merciful, pure in hart peacemakers! (Mat 5:1-10) Your teachers are telling you this, but I am telling you a new way! Jesus is a revolutionary who is always inviting people to inclusive feasting as a new family of sharing, love, diversity, equality and non-violence. Everyone can share: the children, the Samaritans, the lepers, the tax-collectors, the soldiers, the romans, the foreigners. Jesus proclaims an open & free society of association.
Jesus regularly eats with these very people, a radically subversive antagonist act to the current rule of law and culture. Jesus is announcing a whole new culture, new religious movement, new order and hierarchical system. Jesus gives all the benefits of the new, now!
Invertedly Jesus is dividing ancient cultural families, and their rigid protocols and rules of societal engagement. Jesus makes you an immediate enemy of your closest family, tribe and economic safety. In any tribe and culture, there are unspoken norms and traditions, limitations and a central unconscious construct. What is valuable and what is not, what is accepted achievement and behaviour and what is not, what is celebrated and what is frowned upon. There are unspoken laws and protocols of hierarchy of acceptance and rejection.
Jesus constantly and overtly disrupts these structures teaching His disciples to follow suit. He is teaching and demonstrating a whole new way of seeing the world. “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. (Mat 10:34-39)
Jesus is announcing a new family, a new culture: “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” (Mat 12:49-50)
What makes the Jesus Movement family particularly special is when we for long periods of time to not see another, we are at first sight immediately reunited and intimate because of the individual’s obedience to the way and instructions of Christ. Our mutual obdeince unites us!
This new family is the recipients of God’s Kingdom, a holy nation, a priesthood. It is by means of this new tribe, and movement through whom God wants to share His glory and power. This new spiritual family is the genius of God!
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. (Col 1:24-29)
Jesus’ public endorsement of Mary’s decision to follow His way, and tribe expands a new insight into the phrase “Jesus the hope of glory in and among you” This revelation was hidden for a time, but now revealed! The glory of the Lord will never manifest again in a build, a tabernacle, a holy place made of hands! This glory is reserved for His people, who are willing to obey him, and through His power and means of grace do great exploits: Gifts of the Spirit and Fruit of the Spirit!