Can you imagine the excitement? Jesus was coming to Bethany; friend, teacher, Messiah. Martha welcomed Jesus into her home and then busied herself with meal preparations, which was the common, and expected role of a woman in this day. This was not the case though with her sister Mary. As a woman, Mary defied social norms, assumed the role of disciple and sat at Jesus’ feet; confident of how Jesus saw her, and eager to learn. To sit at one’s feet was to engage as a learner; not only for self-knowledge, but also for the purpose of sharing this knowledge with others. Jesus did not delineate between male and female roles. If ever Jesus had the opportunity to set the matter straight, it was here, and yet he made it clear; Mary had chosen the better portion.
During this time, women were regarded as second class citizens. N.T. Wright says that, “Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet within the male part of the house rather than being kept in the back rooms with the other women … Mary had cut clean across one of the most basic social conventions.” According to scholar Judith Hauptman, Rabbinic Law stated that “if a woman were to fulfill time-bound commandments, this, would lessen her husband’s dominance over her because she would have to cease temporarily from serving him, and instead serve God.” Jesus shattered this kind of thinking and freely offered his love, compassion and teaching to anyone who would listen. Mary’s choice to sit at Jesus’ feet was a heart issue; a longing to know Jesus and be his disciple.
There are many examples in the gospels of Jesus having direct conversations with women and in fact inviting them to be his disciples. There was no question about how Jesus felt about women … or men, Jew or Greek, slave or free. Jesus came such that ALL could have life, and have it abundantly. Abundant life comes from knowing the depths of Jesus’ love, and a longing to sit at his feet.
If you have experienced the sweetness of sitting at Jesus’ feet; of learning from him, of being still and knowing he is God, then there is no going back. Once you know your identity as his son or daughter, there is nothing more precious than being in his presence, listening to his voice, and offering yourself to his truth and his way of living. Mary got this. Mary was a disciple of Jesus. Mary was a child of the King!
Jesus, thank you for forgiving me, for declaring my name, for calling me your disciple, and for inviting me to sit at your feet. I’m overwhelmed by your deep love and long to know you more. Thank you for offering a life of abundance in you. I love you my Lord. Amen.
By Lynette Fuson
Director of Women’s Ministries
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