“I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.”
– George MacDonald –
I wonder if she wanted to break free of that sloping little village nestled on the hip of the Mount of Olives.
From her home less than two miles from Jerusalem, she could see the magnificent bulk of Herod’s Temple filling the valley, dwarfing the clay-walled houses and the winding, dusty streets trailing so close below her. Perhaps she leaned on a rough-strawed broom and watched the men file to worship, or contemplated the boys, traveling in swarms to synagogue to be taught the law.
Born there, raised in a place and time where women cooked and hauled and cleaned, only to be sent away when the excitement began–I wonder if her mind itched and ached to hold words that all the men her age had known by heart since they turned thirteen.
Did it gnaw at her soul that the men of her country thanked God for not being born female? That womanhood was a curse to be borne in silence?
But then He came.
I’m not sure when she first heard His words, but something deeply thirsty in her must have swelled at His voice. A man who, of all rabbis, was different. He talked to her–actually spoke to her, a woman. It simply wasn’t done.
“Through the gospels, every encounter that Jesus has with women is a positive one. The women understand him before the men do; women are excused of their housewifely duties in order to sit and learn with the men (Luke 10: 38 ff.). Women stay with him at the Cross when his male disciples have mostly hidden; it is to women that Jesus shows himself first after his resurrection….Jesus’s every interaction with women elevates their status in a culture that very much considered them second-class beings.”
– Timothy Keller, from The Meaning of Marriage, page 267
All the longing to learn, the hunger to be filled up with God’s truth, came to life when she met Him. Here, at last, was a man who saw her as something of value, not as property to be manipulated.
One day He came to see her and her two siblings. Her sister was off doing what everyone expected a woman to do. Her brother was there, listening to the rabbi. All the men that crossed the Jewish countryside at the teacher’s side gathered close.
I wonder how she made her next move. Did she take a breath and step over reclining forms and around sprawled legs and bump into crowded-close shoulders to get to him? Perhaps the men glared at her and muttered guttural disapproval, or stared at one another in shock when she dared to pass through them.
And yet she pressed on through and sat down–in bold, flagrant opposition to all the social conditioning she had ever known–right at the feet of Jesus.
And all the new of tumultuous Zealot uprisings tittering in Jerusalem alleys, all the scorn of her countrymen sitting close around her, all the parading of the Pharisees on the street corners, and all the tuggings of her sister to drag her back to the kitchen, could not move this one girl from the place that she knew she belonged.
The greatest Rabbi, God in skin, commended her choice. With his words, he blessed her–this counter-cultural girl named Mary.
“…One thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” -Luke 10:42, NIV
With a few phrases, an entire culture was overthrown. No more were women to be slaves or oxen to be kept. Jesus smiled on one Jewish girl, and elevated her to an equal place among the disciples gathered at his feet.
It was with wonder on his face that my pastor spoke of these things in a recent sermon. He directed the congregation to the Biblical proclamation that affirmed the place of women in the court of the King:
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” -Galatians 3:26-28 –
Today’s “liberation” for women has worn the wonder thin. We no longer have to fight and struggle and long for equality. It is, at least on the surface, granted us in our culture. Or so we think.
Yet often we are still so enslaved to the whims of our society that we follow its dictates without a thought. Perhaps we are not so different from the women that thronged Jerusalem streets, yet remained invisible to the world.
We blend in, picking up the instruments of labor assigned to us. Today culture hands us briefcases, degrees, titles–still not asking what it is that we were created to do. Not so distant from the time that sandals were in style instead of stilettos, when the culture’s appointed tool was a water pot instead of an iPad.
Jesus turned everything that his disciples assumed inside-out. Why shouldn’t His gospel do the same for us?
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed…” – Romans 12:2 –
Women who follow Christ never have to look to the culture to find the acceptable role. They only have to look to their Savior.
Only at His feet can we begin to change this world.
What about you? Have you fallen into the culture’s mold without question?
Or have you accepted the Radical Call of Jesus?