Most of us have probably viewed the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10 as a story that leads us to stop being busy like Martha and spend more time at the feet of Jesus like Mary.
Now… It goes without saying that it is important to spend time with Jesus. It is well assumed that many of us are busy, even busy doing stuff for God and need to simply spend time with Jesus.
While this is a novel way of looking at the story it appears that there may be something more beautiful going on.
In the first century there was male space and female space. This even shaped the way a first century home was set up. The front room was male space and the back room would have been female space.
In Luke 10 we see that Jesus and some of his followers arrive at Martha and Mary’s and while Martha is working away we get a picture of Mary listening to Jesus at his feet.
Wait a second?! In the house where would Jesus have been? You guessed it. The male space.
And where was Martha? Well, we know she is working away in the female space.
But the questions is: where is Mary?
Mary is in the male space. What was she doing? She was sitting at the feet of Jesus.
You see this isn’t a story about being less busy. This is about the revolutionary Jesus changing the way we view women.
Mary violated the custom of the day to sit at the feet of Jesus with men.
We must understand that this is also why Martha is upset. She is not upset because she is lacking help from Mary with the preparations for Jesus arrival. Martha is upset because Mary is culturally where she does not belong.
Mary stepped out from where she belongs and the crazy thing is that Jesus didn’t stop her. He embraces and affirms her right to be there.
Not only did he affirm Mary, Jesus rebukes Martha:
…“you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Jesus welcomes and defends women where they were not culturally welcomed.
No wonder years later Paul said:
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”
In God’s kingdom everyone is equal.