The Significance of Women in Luke: Mary, Martha and Luke 10-11

Continuing the discussion of the significance of women in the gospel of Luke, this post will focus on the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10. Luke continues to discuss and show true discipleship by providing a snapshot of the events that took place with these two sisters and the raising of Lazarus. While many sermons have come out of this section, our focus here is just to take a brief look at how Luke portrays this story and what he emphasizes. We conclude this section by bringing discipleship back up and what true discipleship is based on.


 

Mary and Martha

The story of Mary and Martha (10:38-42) is rooted in attentiveness to Jesus and the ability listen. While it is uncertain if they had husbands or children, they appear as faithful, godly women.[1] While Luke omits all of John’s details about Mary and Martha and the raising of Lazarus, he instead focuses on the teaching of getting one’s priorities straight by highlighting the unique story of Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet while Martha was absorbed with serving. The message of listening ties back to words that Jesus spoke earlier in regards to His family, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice” (Luke 8:19-21). While Mark’s Gospel (Mark 3:31-35) does not include the hearing reference that is found in Luke, the point Jesus makes is that a true relationship to Him is grounded in hearing His Word and doing it.[2] Luke’s special interest in disciples and women is found in this story as Mary is praised for hearing Jesus’ words.[3] This story further demonstrates Jesus’ acceptance of the education of women and becoming a part of His ministry, which is sharply contrasted with the common rabbinic practice.[4]

Luke follows up this theme of listening and doing God’s will in describing the story of the woman who cried out blessing the womb that bore Jesus (11:27-28). Jesus responds that true blessing is found in those that hear the word of God and do it. His correction shows that discipleship and blessing is not found in a physical relationship, but one grounded in faith.[5]


[1] Benson, “The Women of Luke’s Gospel.”

[2] Kopas, “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel,” 197

[3] Rosalie, “The Women from Galilee and Discipleship in Luke,” 56.

[4] Stein, Luke, 241.

[5] Kopas, “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel,” 198.

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