Luke 10:38-42 describes a scene that most people who have ever read the Bible are familiar with. Jesus, along with a number of His disciples, was traveling and came to the home of Martha. Her sister, Mary, was also there and the Scriptures tell us that Mary sat at Jesus' feet and heard His Word. Martha, however, was distracted with much serving. No doubt she was a good hostess, wanting to make sure all her guests were fed and taken care of.
We think this is necessary. As a veteran hostess, I have served hundreds in our different homes over the years. I love entertaining, cooking, preparing for guests and making their stay in our home as comfortable and pleasant as I can.
I have observed that, in the church and in Christian circles, women are often relegated to the kitchen to prepare, serve and clean up while men often enjoy fellowship around the Word of God. I attended a pastors & wives fellowship a few years ago. Before going, I was told by the hostess that the women generally stayed in the kitchen, talking, while the men studied a specific doctrine. My interest was piqued at what the men might be studying and I asked her for more information. She didn't know, but said that the women don't attend those sessions.
When I got to the meeting, I saw an outline of the day's study and really wanted to sit in and learn. So, when things started, I walked to the men's meeting with my husband. The hostess told me, again, that the women usually stayed in the kitchen and talked, then helped put out lunch. I honestly couldn't bring myself to stay in the kitchen. While I felt a little bad for her, I ended up leaving her in the kitchen alone, wishing she would join us in the study.
The study was excellent! It was an expository study, complete with an exegetical guide that we all got copies of. None of the men seemed to think it strange that I was there with them, and, in fact, there was another woman there, too. I attended several more of these meetings, and by the 3rd one I attended, all the women were sitting in on the sessions rather than hanging out in the kitchen. Score! Amazingly, lunch was still served and everyone ate and was satisfied.
Mary sat at Jesus' feet, learning from Him. Even at Martha's pleas to do so, Jesus did not tell Mary to get up and help. What He did say is surprising to our culture. He said that Mary had chosen "that good part which will not be taken away from her."
As a woman, I do not feel that my place is in the kitchen. I feel that my place is at the feet of Jesus, learning of Him and teaching others of Him. Even as a hostess, I have intentionally tried to ease the preparation of food so as not to miss out on opportunities to learn of Jesus from others, or participate in a study. Jesus said this is "the good part" and that it "can't be taken away" from us.
Why do we women often allow this to be taken away from us? We need to hang up our dishrags and pick up our Bibles and take a stand against traditional roles that exclude us from deep Bible study and participation. You have permission from the King, Himself. You have His approval to stop being sidelined when it comes to deep Bible study. Mary not only had His approval, but His praise. Imagine being praised by the Savior, Himself.
I dare say that if Jesus came to my house in the flesh, I would have someone order take-out because I would not leave His side long enough to even make a phone call to place the order, let alone cook something. I don't want to miss a word.