A Woman Disciple
Chapter Seven from The Alabaster Jar by Theresia Saers
We know that a meeting of Jesus with Mary, her sister Martha and their brother Lazarus did take place. Luke tells the story. Jesus and his disciples are guests in their house at Bethany. Marys behaviour is unexpectedly -and it will later appear- uncharacteristically different from her normal hospitality. She chooses to be a listener only and puts aside all other duties. Because of the brief exchange of reproaches between Martha and Jesus about Marys behaviour we can almost feel the tension she creates. Mary, who sat down at the Lords feet and listened to him speaking. On the face of it these are rather unimportant words. However Scripture tells us how Paul had sat at the feet of Gamaliel, and exegetes interpret these words for us as another way of saying that Paul had been a disciple of that Bible scholar. When I read the same thing about Mary of Bethany I therefore take it that at that moment she chose to become a disciple of Jesus.
A woman disciple? I confess I have to take breath.
However, Luke goes on to tell us,
Now Martha who was distracted with all the serving said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please, tell her to help me." But the Lord answered: " Martha, Martha, he said "you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her."
I would say this text undoubtedly presents us with the very first woman disciple, and a faithful one at that. What is more, Jesus insistence that her discipleship is not to be taken from her is very strong. Alas, I am sadly aware that subsequent exegetes have not given Mary of Bethany what was due to her.
As for Jesus, Bethany must have felt a good place to be, for Martha, Lazarus and Mary become his friends, their house a haven of refuge, when he travels to and from Jerusalem..
© Theresia Saers
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