Summary: Continuing in a series on going to Jerusalem, based on travels described in Luke. This is in line with United Methodist Lectionary. Please let me know if you use these messages.
July 21, 2013
Making of an Apostle
Jesus is walking through a town, when He sees that the townspeople are about to stone a woman. He asks, “Why are you going to stone her?”
A voice comes from somewhere in the crowd that proclaims, “Because she is a sinner.”
Jesus boldly proclaims, “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.”
People in the crowd look at each other and then one by one they start dropping their stones to the ground. Suddenly a stone comes flying out of the group and conks the poor woman on the head.
Jesus yells, “Mom! Cut that out!”
Our story from Luke about Yeshua traveling from Capernaum to Jerusalem and other places on this publicity tour and mission trip to Jerusalem, with stops along the way, continues. If you have missed this series on travels by James, John, the seventy and Messiah, I will gladly provide scripts or CD’s. With the background of the previous lessons, we now see that the journey allows the participants to find remarkable and cooperative people along the way, just as our personal vacations and adventures. The advance crew also found discontents such as those in the Samaritan village.
Not only was this family of three who met Jesus, interested in Him to a point they invited Him into their home, but this meeting resulted in a new and personal Bethany “headquarters” for Yeshua that shortened His trips to Jerusalem, plus this meeting resulted in a new financial partner, Lazarus. So much of scripture happens within the relationships with Martha, Mary and Lazarus, that the New Testament would be much different had this meeting not happened. Since the journey began at Capernaum, Jesus and the disciples would have gone back across the Sea of Galilee after each mission if it were not for this encounter.
It was Martha who had the insight to invite the traveling Messiah into their home, yet it was her Sister Mary who played a remarkable role in Jesus’ life from then on. Martha got caught up in the details of entertaining and supporting the Master while Mary was intensely interested in what He had to say.
Luke 10:38 through 42 holds a fascinating detail. We read, “As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him.” Where were the disciples? Did He sneak away from them? Was His visit with Martha intentionally done aside from His traveling companions and advance team?
Lazar, or Lazarus, as the English translators have named him, also realized the value of this mission, and became the Master’s best friend. From the way this family lavished expensive oils on Yeshua, they were obviously wealthy. These women, including their brother Lazarus, followed hospitality rules in the Torah to a “t”. By their actions toward Messiah we see that they already worshiped God and likely believed the forecasts that the Son of God would be coming. We don’t know if these three had some influence in the Temple, or what they had heard about this mission of the Anointed One. An important question is not answered in Luke or anywhere else. The question is; had a pair of apostles traveling with the seventy found this home then told Jesus about them prior to this described meeting? Remember that an advance team had been sent out.
Regardless, the meeting happened. Martha introduced Jesus to her sister who became so intrigued with His teaching that Martha was left to take care of every detail, while Mary sat at Messiah’s feet receiving important instruction and wisdom. There is no hint that help was offered to Martha by anybody in the home. At this point in the new relationship, Brother Lazarus was not in the picture or at least not mentioned.
Mary’s intrigue with Messiah was most obvious, which promoted a response from Martha early in this story, “She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Is some scripture missing here? How do we go from Jesus diverting from the traveling group and introducing himself to this family, to being familiar enough with the two women that Martha would say to Messiah, “Tell her to help me,” indicating authority and influence over Mary. This statement reaches into the issue of women’s roles in society of the time since Mary was breaking many norms with the Master’s apparent cooperation and promotion.
A look at the name Mary from the Hebrew perspective has interesting revelations. The Hebrew name is Miriam, meaning “wished for a child” plus “bitter” or “rebellious”. Another translation interprets her name as “lady”. Could any of these meanings apply to the Mary, we now know as Mary Magdalene? Are her rebellious actions toward her sister and social norms indicative of her name? Did Mary see the perfection in Messiah from a mortal woman’s viewpoint or was she wise enough to want to become a disciple?