You also show how Luke has a concern for women and for the poor and marginalized. Reading the story again of Mary and Martha . . .

Yes, it's huge.

. . . I never realized that, as you quoted from the Jewish teachings [the Mishnah, a collection of rabbinic teaching from 200 B.C. to A.D. 200], the teaching that letting women be taught the scriptures was similar to teaching her lechery!

Yes. "Better the law be burned than delivered to a woman." That's their world. And then Jesus said, "It's better for Mary to be sitting at my feet," which is a metaphor for studying—"it's better for her to be studying than for her to be working in the kitchen." I'm telling you, I think I said something along the lines of "you could feel the earth shake" when Christ said this. ("The notion that it is more admirable for a woman to sit and learn as opposed to working in the kitchen would have been little less than seismic in Jesus' time," p. 141.)

People need to see that, and I don't think you see it unless you're really engaged with the text.

Yes, usually when I've heard this story preached on, it's always just in the context of, "Well, Martha should have been more like this."

Yes, but the other side of the story is that Jesus shows up with seventy or eighty people!

Yes, what's Martha supposed to do?? You also said that this story came under the overall theme of "faith before family."

Yes. This is huge, too, and kind of scary in American Christianity. I think if you start preaching that, you could get yourself into a lot of trouble. But it's clear; it's in all of the gospels. I'm writing the book now for Mark, and Mark is the one where Jesus' mother and brother are saying that He's out of his mind, and come to take Him away. Jesus says, "No. These people who are listening to me, these are my mother and my brothers." It's consistent. You know, "Let me go bury my father." Jesus replies, "No, you let the dead go bury their dead. You come follow me." It's all through there.

And that's really hard.

It's huge. Now, Jesus doesn't negate family. I hope I'm not being too American in saying that it's best for my wife for me to love Jesus more than I love her. That's better for her. It's better for our marriage. I don't think that's fudging on this point, but there is a hierarchy, and if He says "go," you go!

There are several times when Jesus eats in Pharisees' homes.

Three times.

The time when he's in Simon's home . . .

That's the first time.

. . . and the woman is there and anoints his feet. Again, you give the background that the woman letting down her hair would have been something she would have never done [without very negative consequences].

Men would divorce their wives for letting down their hair in public. The Talmud says that it's equal to exposing the bosom, so it was very inappropriate, what she did.

One thing I liked that you emphasized in this story—and I also noticed it in other parts of the book—was how different people see each other . . .


. . . just the idea of seeing. Simon sees the woman as being in one category, and he misses seeing the opportunity to minister to Jesus by washing his feet.