Last weekend I was privileged to attend a women's conference with 5 friends and hear Jen Hatmaker, a Christian author who has inspired me. The 6 of us were all giddy about seeing her in person and possibly even getting close enough to say "Hi!". Imagine our excitement when we found out she was available at the book table to sign copies of her books (even the ones we brought along as well as the ones we purchased)! I was thrilled that I got to personally thank her for finally getting through to me the value of journaling my impressions from my daily devotional time with God. Basically, her statement "If the God of the Universe says something to you, its a good idea to write it down" penetrated my thick skull and elicited a "Duh!" response.
Wow, no-brainer, Mary!
But all that is beside the point.
The light bulb moment of the conference for me came as Jen (we are on first name basis now although I don't think she knows who I am) shared her thoughts and impressions from the Bible about discipleship. She began the evening message by asking us to turn to Luke 10:38.
Jen, you have got to be kidding!
The story of Martha and Mary!?
You see, almost every Bible study written for women somehow weaves into it this story from Luke about these two sister. I feel like I should be on a first name basis with these gals having spent sooooo much time considering this moment in their lives. I have lost track of how many discussions I have been involved in that drug poor Martha through the mud and squeezed every drop of relevancy out of this passage.
Or at least I thought I had learned all there was to know from these 5 verses. (See One Thing)
That evening Jen shared the background info about how the Jewish male children were schooled in the Scriptures from age 6 to 14. At the age of 6 the boys were enrolled in school and spent the next 4 years memorizing the first 5 books of the Scriptures. Just think of the homework assignments!
Then from 10 to 14 they advanced to memorizing the remaining Scriptures and learning how to ask questions to gain insight and understanding into the interpretation of said Scriptures.
Once this training was completed the local Rabbis hand-picked the cream of the crop, the brightest of the bright, the valedictorians of the class to continue their studies as their disciples. I imagine that the rest were given their participation ribbon and sent back home with a pat on the head to take up their fathers' trade and resume their place in the family business. But the chosen few spent time at the feet of their respective Rabbi, listening and learning and assimilating all his knowledge, taking upon themselves the "yoke" of the Rabbi which included his particular interpretations of the requirements of the Law. If these disciples were as sharp as they were made out to be they would learn so well that their lives would reflect the Rabbi so closely that people would be able to distinguish which Rabbi they sat under just by observing the way they lived. They would become little mimics of the Rabbi.
Of course, none of this was available to the Jewish girls.
Now, back to Martha and Mary.
Jesus shows up in their town, Bethany. As a teacher He was considered a Rabbi by the local people. So what does Mary do when this Teacher comes into her home and offers her the opportunity to sit as his feet and learn from him?
Mary is no dummy.
She jumps at the chance.
No one before had asked her to be a disciple, to learn from a Rabbi, to take his yoke upon her. It never crossed her mind that girls don't do such things. So she pulls up a spot at His feet and begins to learn. She takes on the role of a disciple. Can't you just see the eyes of the gal fixed on Jesus, drinking up every word, maybe even taking detailed notes, making the most of this unbelievable opportunity.
Don't you suppose that Martha got the same opportunity?
Oh, but Martha. She understood her place. She was a woman. Women didn't study under Rabbis.
She disqualified herself.
She tore up the acceptance letter. Must be some mistake.
Nope, no mistake, Martha.
Jesus wants you, Martha, to be his disciple.
Jesus wants you, Martha, to sit at his feet.
Jesus wants you, Martha, to learn from him.
Jesus wants you, Martha, to take his yoke upon you.
Jesus wants you, Martha.
Jesus wants you, Mary (as in me Mary).
I wonder how often we tear up our acceptance letter, how often we disqualify ourselves.
"I can't understand the Bible"
"I don't have time."
"I didn't go to Bible college."
"I didn't go to college."
The amazing thing is that we are all invited to come and learn and take His yoke upon us, to be His disciples. To become enough like Him that people observe us and say--
"Oh, you must be Rabbi Jesus' disciple."