SHE SHALL BE CALLED WOMAN
Part Two Session Four
After so many hard sessions, we need one that is clear and easy to see. However, for some of you, it may rub hard against your cultural tradition. All of the scriptures we will study have to do with importance of knowing and keeping God’s ways.
In this session we will explore three significant incidents recorded in a few brief verses. Mark 3:20-21 and 31-35 tell of a visit from Jesus' natural family. In Luke 11:27-28 Jesus responds to a complement from a lady in the crowd and we’ll conclude with the story of Mary and Martha from Luke 10:38-42. We will discover:
1. Who qualifies for God’s family
2. What God thinks of limited “roles” for women
3. What has eternal value
4. Who can be disciples
When you finish you will want to take a look at the Vignettes on Martha and Women Disciples They are great reading and will give you a deeper perspective. You will find links at the end of the questions section.
As Jesus began to really move out in ministry the crowds around Him were so thick and the need so great that He hardly had time to eat or sleep. He had just drawn away and chosen the twelve when Mark tells us:
"Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, 'He is out of his mind.'" Mark 3:20-21 (NIV)
A little later, after some teachers of the law from Jerusalem confronted Him accusing Him of casting out demons by the ruler of demons, He spoke about a kingdom divided against itself and about the sin against the Holy Spirit not being forgiven. At that point an incident occurred that is so important it was recorded in Matt. 12:46-50, Mark 3:31-35 and Luke 8:19-21.
"Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, 'Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.' 'Who are my mother and my brothers?' he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother.'" Mark 3:31-35 (NIV)
Notice that this natural family was “standing outside”. They had to send someone in to communicate with Him. They were not “following” Him. They were not part of those who sat in the circle at His feet and heard His voice. Rather than responding to the desires of his family and dismissing the crowd, Jesus emphasized the claims of God upon the lives of each person.
Jesus says that neither His birth mother nor His sisters and brothers have favored status because they are His natural family. It is not His physical family that He considers as related to Him but those who are His followers, His disciples. He used the concerned actions of His earthly relatives to make a major point. The real family is the spiritual family. By this awesome statement He opens the way for us.
It goes back to what Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:3-7.
"Jesus answered and said to him, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.' Nicodemus said to Him, 'How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?' Jesus answered, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again.'"
As Jesus was born from above, we too, must have this rebirth of our spirit to be related to Him. This second birth is a quickening (awakening, bringing to life) that does not come from the natural realm but from God Himself by His Spirit. Only then can we see to enter the Kingdom. Only then can we even know the will of God and true kinship with those who do His will. These are the ones that Jesus calls his brother and sister and mother.
Both men and women were part of His earthly family. Both men and women are included in the family of God. Jesus recognizes and values family that lies beyond the claims of natural blood relationship. True kinship is with those who know the will of God and do it.
One of the ways we know whether something is the will of God is by knowing if it is in agreement with His Word. The culture of Jesus’ day objected to women studying scripture. Yet the Bible clearly says that Jesus, who only does what the Father tells Him, clearly expects women to both learn and practice His Word.
Scripture teaches that in the mouth of two or more witnesses is a thing established. A confirmation of God’s desire for women to be full participants in knowing and doing His will is found in Luke 11:27-28.
"And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, 'Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!' But He said, 'More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!'"
Picture the scene. A woman in the crowd is thinking how wonderful it would be to have a son like Jesus. She would be so proud. It would give her great status to be the mother of such a man. Her attempt to give a complement reveals her belief that women are of value because they can bear children, preferably sons. Jesus recognizes that the statement puts limitations on a woman’s worth and uses this incident to again declare God’s desire for women to be allowed full membership in His family. No longer were they to be valued only as “baby machines,” restricted to the function of producing children. Their lives were not to be limited to traditional roles.
Mary and Martha
A third witness to God’s desire for women to be taught along with the men is found in Luke 10:38-42.
"Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, 'Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.' And Jesus answered and said to her, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.'"
Here again, Jesus calls women to sit at His feet and learn the way of God. Martha wanted Mary to take up the traditional role and come into the kitchen where she belonged. In the Greek, the words indicate that it was not just that Martha wanted help, she wanted Mary to be a proper Jewish woman and take a real interest in the meal preparations, to consider her responsibility in the home primary (in first place). Jesus tells Martha that she is preoccupied and worried (concerned, stressed) about a lot of things, but only one thing is truly necessary. Mary has chosen what is of eternal value.
Sitting at Jesus’ feet has value that will never end. Both men and women must learn to give the eternal first place. Scripture here confirms that both women and men are to be disciples. Both are called to be changed into His likeness. There is not one way for men and another for women. We know from Galatians 3:28 that in Christ there is no difference because of race, gender or social status. Our value is not found in a role, (position or responsibility) but in doing the will of God.
Did you know that Jesus had women disciples? There were women who followed him from place to place and who helped support His ministry. Somehow these verses have gone unnoticed.
"And it came about soon afterwards, that He began going about from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God; and the twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means. Luke 8:1-3 (New American Standard Bible)
Jesus demonstrated His desire for women to be accepted as full participants in the Kingdom of God by what He said as well as what He did. Can we do less?
1. In Genesis 2: God breathed the breath of life into humankind. Our God is absolutely Holy. He cannot tolerate ANYTHING outside His will. When Adam and Eve disobeyed they did something that was alien to God and His Spirit departed from them. In order for us to live in God's presence, we must be again recieve the Spirit of God--by being born again from above. When we accept the sacrifice of Christ for our sin and truly accept and depend on His righteousness rather than our own it opens the way for spiritual rebirth.
2. Matt 18:16 "But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.'" Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 19:15
3. Gal 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
QUESTIONS AND DISCUSSION POINTS
1. How do we become part of God’s family?
2. What conflicts do you find between the demands of your natural family and those of God? How do you deal with them?
3. In the story of Mary and Martha, the expected cultural role of a woman is clear. What might be the expected cultural role/s of a man that might interfere with the call of God of his life?
4. What family and/or cultural problems could have been encountered by the women disciples who travelled with Jesus as found in Luke 8:1-3?