Quick Thought Thursday: Jesus Challenges Our Cultural Categories

One of the things I like to do as I read the scriptures is write down just one thing, one quick takeaway from the section. For me, it’s a process that helps me move from simply reading the Word to allowing the Word to read me.

It’s a simple practice that anybody can do, it helps to reinforce what I’ve read, and it gives me an opportunity to engage with what the Holy Spirit might be trying to teach me.

This is my “quick thought” from today’s reading in Luke 9-10.

“Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.” ~Luke 10:39

Have you even gone to an amusement park and been excited for a specific ride only find out that you were too short? Amusement parks divide people into categories of “short” or “tall” based on safety and insurance concerns. We categorize people in everyday life based on age or ability, and it’s probably wise not to allow a 10 year old to drive, but dividing people isn’t always a good thing. One day, the 10 year old will be old enough to drive, but in Jesus’ time Mary will never be “male enough” to sit at the feet of a Rabbi and be taught!

Too often we misread this short passage at the end on Luke 10 and think it’s about Martha’s worries as if Jesus was telling her to “relax.” However, the real scandal of this has nothing to do with hospitality and housekeeping; the real scandal is that Jesus is overturning deep seeded cultural norms, breaking down walls, and affirming all as fully accepted into the Kingdom of God.

The cultural expectation was that only men could read, only men were educated, only men had full access to the Temple of God , and only men could be Rabbis. Martha’s indignation had little to do with hospitality, and everything to do with the misguided cultural norms. Martha must have thought Mary was wasting her time because nobody is taught at the feet of a Rabbi unless they are learning to be a Rabbi themselves, and Mary will never be “male enough” to be a rabbi. But Jesus realigns culture and affirms Mary’s position at the feet of a Rabbi because “in Christ, there is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female; all are one!”

Mary has chosen the better thing, and “the better thing” has fully accepted and affirmed her because women are fully accepted at the table of the Lord. Where is Jesus challenging our “cultural norms” today?

This is what I heard in today’s reading, what did you hear?


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