As we are approaching the end of the meditations on Martha and Mary’s experiences with Jesus, I’d like to mention that someone pointed out at church this past Sunday how women in the Gospel knew Scripture and how revelatory that was. The fact that women knew the Word might not seem significant, let alone revolutionary to thinkers of the new millennium. Two thousand years ago, however, women were chattel, not higher than a mule or a horse. I think a camel ranked higher than a woman. And what business do a mule, a horse or a camel have knowing about Sacred things?
That didn’t mean women were not absorbing whatever knowledge they could get their hands and brains on.
I did read, that Jewish women were allowed to receive a little education on religion and the main religious instruction in the home was given by the man and not the woman. But they could not be disciples of any great rabbi, they certainly could not travel with any rabbi.
Boy, did Jesus change things, huh?
He had women following Him, learning from Him, receiving His revelation all along the years of His ministry! Martha is a great example of this! Remember that exchange between them, when Martha was sort of recriminating Jesus for not having been there to avoid Lazarus’ death? What did Jesus do?
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” John 11: 23-27
Jesus took the time not only to talk to Martha, but to meet her at an intellectual, rational level. He did not regard her as an inferior being who does not deserve the grace of His Word because she’s got the brain of a mule. He knew she could handle thought provoking ideas. He knew she knew what Scripture said about death and resurrection (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea), so He challenged her because He knew she was up to the task. He gave her His revelation for the world to read centuries afterwards because He knew her mind was capable…for she, too, is part of His creation.
Jesus openly elevated women. He demonstrated to the world that women were not chattel but human…that they were not brainless, but thinkers.
Thank you, Jesus, Amen!