This Lenten season, I was struck once again by the presence of women at Jesus’ tomb. Even in its brevity, Mark’s Gospel makes mention that Mary of Magdalene, Mary mother of James, and Salome were the first to see the resurrected Christ. Throughout the Gospels, we see how important women were to Jesus. They were even the first evangelists!
Authors Rachel Spier Weaver and Anna Haggard have paid special attention to women throughout Scripture in an effort to invite their children to answer God’s calling to discover and use their talents, passions, and gifts to journey with Him on a lifelong adventure. I’ve asked if they would give us a little glimpse into the role of two of Jesus’ friends: Mary and Martha.
For 2,000 years, sisters Mary and Martha have been compared to each other (Luke 10:38-42).
In our traditional rehashing of the tale … Martha gets ornery — finding herself alone in the kitchen preparing dinner for Christ — her sister shirking her dinner duties.
Meanwhile, Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet in the living room. And Jesus affirms Mary’s actions, not Martha’s.
We often conclude … be a Mary (pray, listen to God, read your Jesus Calling). Stop being harried Martha.
Only recently did I realize that our traditional reading of the story misses Mary’s radical act.
In Mary’s day, only disciples sat at their rabbi’s feet.
Suddenly, sitting at Jesus’ feet no longer appears so meek and mild.
Mary wasn’t quietly listening to Jesus.
By sitting at Jesus’ feet, Mary was calling herself a disciple.
Exclusively male, disciples inherited the ministry of their teacher. (Read theologian N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Scripture, 64-83, to learn more!)
That day, Mary was making a declaration. Taking the posture of a disciple, she is claiming to inherit the ministry of Christ.
And Jesus affirms Mary: “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).
Friends, listen: In a patriarchal society, the anointed Messiah chooses Mary to be his disciple.
This story is not just a comparison of Mary and Martha. Or an instructive on being Type A versus contemplative.
It’s revolutionary. Jesus is upending social, gender, and religious norms! And he is calling Mary to take on his everlasting ministry.
So often the narratives we’ve been taught about Scripture are too narrow regarding the scope for which Christ has called us.
Christ has called women, both now and in Scripture, as disciples, evangelists, prophets, teachers, and spiritual leaders.
The Spirit has led women like Mary to embrace such countercultural gifts as …
- Deborah was Israel’s political and spiritual leader in an age when women didn’t lead. See Judges chapters 4-5.
- Miriam is credited as leading the nation of Israel as a prophet along with her brothers, Moses and Aaron, in Micah 6:4. Find her story in Exodus 15:20-21.
- Gifted as a teacher, Priscilla — alongside Paul — instructed leaders in the emerging church. She was also a church planter on two continents! Her story: Acts 18.
How often when we hear Scripture in church do we as women imagine ourselves as disciples?
How often do our daughters and sons learn about women in Scripture who are teachers, rulers, and prophets?
Perhaps, the biblical interpretations we’ve read belie our spiritual inheritance.
According to Scripture, women are at the forefront of proclaiming the gospel! Throughout history, we have been gifted by God to announce the riches of Christ Jesus.
And, like Mary, we have been called to walk in step with our Rabbi.
So, let’s make a bold declaration. Let’s sit at Christ feet: proclaiming we — as well as our daughters and sons — have inherited Christ’s ministry.
Rachel and Anna have a new book series geared to inspire your child to grow in their faith, walk in their calling, and understand their gifts. You do not want to miss these. Check out Called and Courageous Girls: Bible Heroes That Inspire Your Child’s Faith in God. Through examples of steadfast faith and—ultimately—God’s direction, the Called and Courageous Girls series invites your children to answer God’s calling to discover and use their talents, passions, and gifts to journey with Him on a lifelong adventure.
God is calling every courageous hero—including your child— to arise, trust in Him, and join the Greatest Story.
Pick up all three in the series and help your kids and grandkids deepen their faith:
Rachel Spier Weaver is a recruiter at HOPE International and has worked as a career counselor at the University of Florida and Dickinson College. Her passion is sharing stories of women of God who led in extraordinary ways. She lives with her husband, Shane, and their two children, Norah and Jack.
Anna Haggard is coauthor of The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good and Mission Drift, a 2015 Christianity Today Book Award winner. A writer and editor for the Brethren in Christ U.S., Anna previously was a staff writer for HOPE International. She is delighted to write for children (her favorite people).