Summary: Worship fuels service
The gospel of Luke is the story of Jesus heading towards Jerusalem to die for us and rise again. It's written as a series of journeys that include meals. Each meal unfolds a bit more of the gospel.
There some strange teaching going round now where people say the teaching of the Gospel is just for the period between Jesus' birth and his death and that what Jesus taught is not for us it's for Jews and maybe Gentiles in the time before the cross to become Christians. That is of course nonsense. The Gospel of Luke was written by Luke in around AD80, nearly 50 years after the cross, as a result of him interviewing as many eye-witnesses as possible. It was intended to help early churches and is totally applicable for us. Of course as we read Jesus' words we can see how he challenges the proud religious leaders with the law to show them they need grace and the humble masses with grace!
At each of the meals with Jesus in Luke we learn something of Jesus challenging the community of God - the church, The Gateway Church to fulfill its basic identity as a people called, assembled and sent by Jesus.
At the first two meals Jesus and the disciples were guests at dinner parties and the third Jesus and the disciples showed miraculous hospitality to 5,000 people. We learned that the Kingdom of God is a feast, entered by repentance. That forgiven people are reconciled to each other and that we are on an impossible mission made possible by trusting in God.
Now we come to a second set of meals where Jesus is very definitely heading towards Jerusalem.
He enjoys hospitality in the home of a woman named Martha in today's passage 10:38-42
He goes to a symposium/dinner party in the home of a Pharisee (ch11)
another Symposium style dinner part in the home of a leading Pharisee in ch14
and then enjoys hospitality in the home of a chief tax collector Zaccheus in ch 19
Each of those 4 situations reflect different situations in the daily life of the church and at each at least one issue is raised and addressed prophetically by Jesus - so they are hugely relevant to us today.
Today we are going to see two things at Martha's house - so let's read the passage together Luke 10:38-42
First minor thing to nots is that we know Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived in Bethany, but that is too close to Jerusalem so really this story is later in time. But he has placed it here to alert us to something about Jesus’ mission and ministry, which will become clear later.
The fact that it was Martha welcoming Jesus and copy Lazarus, tells us a lot. Ordinarily it would be man who welcomes a s man into a man’s home, not a woman into a woman’s home. In Acts Paul is welcomed by Lydia in Thyatira - who gets saved and added into the church plant. The gospel reverses many of the traditional values of the time.
One of the issues here is not there fact that Martha is annoyed that Mary is not in the kitchen with her. It is not that they are both romantically attracted to Jesus and she is jealous of Mary sitting at his feet. No the real problem is that Mary is behaving as if she was a man. In those days houses were usually divided into male areas and female areas. The public room would be where the men would meet - the kitchen belonged to the women. The children play outside. The marriage bedroom the place where male and female mix.
Do a woman dos title down comfortable among the men was bordering on scandalous. Not just superiority and inferiority between sexes but also the appropriate division of two halves of humanity in those days.
Sitting at the feet of a teacher was also a male thing. It’s not a literal puppy dog posture. When Saul of Tarsus sat at the feet of Gamaliel Acts 22:23 - he’s not just gazing up adoringly and thinking what a great Rabbi, Gamaliel was. He was listening and learning to the teacher. Dos it at someones’s feet is to be their student - you sat at the feet of a Rabbi if you wanted to become a Rabbi yourself. So Mary is taking her place as a student and disciple of Jesus.
Jesus affirms her for doing so. This isn’t modern western feminism as such. This is Jesus loving all human beings not on attracts egalitarian ideals, but because He loves people and he breaks the banks with his love and waters previously barren and unfruitful soil.
It was extraordinary for Martha to welcome Jesus into her home. It was also quite extraordinary for Mary, a women to be a disciple - we’ve already had a traitorous tax collector welcomed into the kingdom, a sinful woman who turned up at Simon’s house, the Gerasene demoniac - a Gentile demonised person who worked with pigs - triple yuk then! Now we see a woman, Mary at Jesus’ feet! Becoming His student, His disciple