“Martha, Martha”

WomanI’m doing a study on Luke at church, and just recently came across the story of Jesus, Mary, and Martha at Luke 10:38 ff.

The fact that Jesus wanted Martha to study at his feet rather than doing housework was by no means to demean housework. After all, she was offering hospitality, which was highly valued by Jesus, as shown in many other stories.

Rather, the point of the story is that the opportunity to learn from Jesus was an extraordinary, once-in-history opportunity that Martha should profit from, rather than worrying about Jesus’ supper. We know from other passages that Jesus considered teaching women so urgent he skipped meals to teach them (the woman at the well, for example). But the subtle point is that he considered it urgent for women to learn in an age when the Jews refused to teach women the Torah. They were to be taught to care for their husbands and children and nothing more. Indeed, some said that women should learn only enough of the Law to know the penalty for adultery! And yet Jesus told Martha to leave her housekeeping to study, sacrificing his own comfort and needs so a woman could learn. Jesus pointedly drew Martha from a traditionally female role to a traditionally male role.

This story follows the Parable of the Good Samaritan and appears to be taken out of chronological order to be juxtaposed with this lesson (Jesus would not have arrived at Bethany until later on his journey). Why? Because they teach the same lesson: the gospel doesn’t allow discrimination. Judge the heart, not the exterior.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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