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Page267MATTHEW 18; LUKE 10JESUS EMPOWERS CHILDREN, THE LOST, SOCIAL OUTCASTS, AND WOMENINTROMany of the Lord’s teachings and behaviors were radical in his culture. As Christians, we are so familiar with them that we may not realize how outrageous they were in his day. is week’s scriptural sections demonstrate Jesus making sweeping departures from the perceived norms regarding children, shepherds, forgiveness, Samar-itans, neighbors, women, learning, service, and even ownership. Not only did Jesus think “outside of the box,” his also taught with very innovative methods that pioneered a new life for those who followed him. Interestingly, the teachings in the Book of Mormon seem less trapped by the traditions that developed aer the Jewish Babylonian captivity (~597–538 BC), and more in keeping with Jesus’ teachings (i.e. the worth and place of children in the kingdom of heaven, see Moroni 8:10–23).
Page268Children’s Humility is Jesus’ Standard for Greatness Matthew 18:1–34; Mark 9:33b–50; Luke 9:46–50)Matthew 18:1, Mark 9:33; Luke 9:46 “Who is the greatest . . .?” Jesus and the Twelve returned to Capernaum and entered into “the house” (Mark 9:33). We are not told whose house this was, but possibly Simon Peter’s mother-in-law’s home (Mark 1:30).1 e Gospels of Mark and Luke record that the Twelve were embarrassed to tell Jesus that they had been debating who was the greatest among them. But he perceived their thoughts. ere was an enormous gulf or disparity between the Lord’s thoughts and the disciples’ thoughts.Mark 9:34 “If any man desire to be rst, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all” Jesus’ kingdom turned the social ladder of hierarchy upside down; humble servants are to be the most honored, not the smartest or richest or those the closest related to royalty. Jesus explained that in the Kingdom of Heaven, the highest ranking goes to those who will serve the most. His consistent message honored the lowly humble servants—including children and women—in various settings across each of the four Gospels. Suer the Little Children to Come to Me by Juliaan De Vriendt. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
Page269• “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11) • “e Son of man came not to beministered unto, but tominister” (Mark 10:45)• “…but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.” (Luke 22:26)• “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him willmyFather honour” (John 12:26) e fact that the early Christians recorded these sayings, and included them in the Gospels, shows that they also wanted to emphasize and incorporate Jesus’ message of encouraging servitude.In contrast to Jesus’ desire for all to love and serve, his ancient world had a hierarchy with the wealthy, educated, and masters on top and an inferior class of servants and slaves on the bottom. In the rabbinic literature of the day, women, children, and slaves are oen lumped together in this class of servants.2 But Jesus attacked this mis-conception by teaching the true value of a child.Matthew 18:2; Mark 9:35; Luke 9:48 “Jesus called a little child . . .”3 Jesus made abrupt changes to how children were treated. He acknowledged and welcomed them in public, encouraged them to come to him, and honored them as the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. To appreciate what a drastic change this was in their society, it helps to contrast Jesus’ liberation with the Judeo culture of the time.4Children in the Ancient Jewish CultureChildren were welcomed as a blessing from God, fullling the commandment, “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:22). Half of the children born alive died by age ten. Juxtaposed with these two realities, children were seen as a public nuisance, and thus, should be unseen and unheard.5 Girls especially were kept indoors “for modesty s a k e.”6 Fathers dictated how their children were educated, where they went, what they ate, what they vowed, and col-lected all payments they earned or found. Many were harshly disciplined: “Stripes and correction are at all times wisdom . . . loving fathers . . . [do] not spare the rod,” and “break him in and beat him sound while his is still a child.”7 Guardians kept strict control through age twelve, but by age “thirteen and one day,” they were considered adults.8 Children shared work with slaves (in fact, one of the Greek words for young child, paidon, can also mean servant or slave). Both washed their father or master’s face and feet, dressed and fed him, waited on him and took orders from him.
Page270Girls were not educated beyond learning domestic skills at home, except for rare exceptions. By age ve or six, Jewish boys could begin their formal educa-tion. However, “90–95 percent of the population of ancient Palestine would have been rural peasants,” hence, both boys and girls were oen needed to help contribute on the family farms.9 Even very little ones helped in vegetable gardens, gathering rewood, and with chores.10Matthew 18:3–4 “. . . be converted and become as little children” Little ones seem to have an innate gi to believe, which is at the root of conversion. When Jesus asked his disciples to humble themselves like children, he implied the need to become more trust-ing, teachable, transparent, innocent, loving, for-giving, not prejudiced, etc. ese positive traits are childlike not childish.Matthew18:5; Mark 9:37; Luke 9:48 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me” (ESV) is is thought provoking—and it extends to all who interact with children with love from babysit-ters and teachers, to parents and grandparents.God’s Care of ChildrenMatthew18:6; Mark 9:42 “. . . oend one of these little ones which believe on me” Jesus vehemently denounced anyone who hurt children. e word for “oend/stumble” in Greek is skandaloizo/scandalize and also means to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way. In addition to hurting someone physically, the denition includes, “entrap, i.e., trip up . . . entice to sin, apostasy.”11 In addition to abuse, Jesus also referred to those who cause a child to lose their innate faith or to distrust God. In this context, being a parent or caregiver who works with children is like being on a full-time mission with a golden contact. e Lord still asks that those who work with children never discourage the faith of these young investigators. Intentionally teaching children falsehoods and extinguishing their faith is a serious sin. Suer the Children by Carl Heinrich Bloch. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
Page271Matthew 18:7–9; Mark 9:42–50; Luke 17:1–2 “Woe . . . cut it o” Jesus felt so strongly about not abusing chil-dren in any way that he used language that would have been extremely oensive to the Jews. Dismembering one’s body, or any form of harming the body, was very oensive to the Jews. Killing oneself was perhaps the worst thing one could do. Jesus used these strong words as an alarm to let them know how serious it is to oend little children.Matthew 18:10 “their angels . . . behold the face of my Father” Jesus explained that angels are given charge over children. Jews believed that God gave “His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” (Psalm 91:10; also see Daniel 6:22). Although we do not know if God sends each infant to their second estate with angelic protection, we do know that the light of Christ is given to all who are born on the earth (D&C 84:44–48; Moroni 7:12). Modern prophets have discussed the idea of guardian angels including, • Heber J Grant: “[Children] the Lord loves you. His angels are always near to help you. Your guardian angels stand by you to see that no harm shall touch you, no evil thought disturb you.”12• Joseph Fielding Smith: “We have oen heard of guardian angels attending us and many patriarchs have spoken of such protection. ere are times no doubt when some unseen power directs us and leads us from harm. However, the true guardian angel given to every man who comes into the world is the Light of Truth or Spirit of Christ.”13• Pres. Harold B. Lee: “ose in the spirit world may be guardian angels to those in mortality. Who are guardian angels? Well, it would appear that someone who is quickened by some inuence, not yet celes-tialized, is permitted to come back as a messenger for the purpose of working with and trying to aid those who are le behind. . . . It isn’t your [departed] father and mother who will be far away from you, children; it will be you who keep them far away.”14 Parable of the Lost Sheep Matthew 18:10–14; Luke 15:3–7Matthew 18:11 “. . . cometh to save that which was lost” e JST adds a helpful transition between children and lost sheep: “and to call sinners to repentance; but these little ones have no need of repentance, and I will save them.”15Matthew 18:12; Luke 15:4 “a man has . . . sheep” Jesus describeed this shepherd as a brave, mountain-climbing, self-sacricing man. Yet in the Jewish world at the time, shepherds were considered socially unclean. ey were not allowed to stand as legal witnessed in court. is tradition developed because some shepherds let their ocks graze on others’ property. Jesus, however, used this pastoral imagery to describe himself because he was despised by many. As the “good shepherd,” he knows his sheep by name (John 10:14). A thousand years earlier, King David also described the Lord as an attentive shepherd: “e Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want (Psalm 23:1).
Page272e Gospels include 37 verses about sheep (mostly in John 10:2–27). John W. and Jeannie Welch describe sheep as helpless. It is interesting to consider the par-allels between fallen man and sheep:Of all the animals in God’s kingdom, sheep rank among the most vulnerable. ey are largely defense-less, lacking claws or most other means of ward-ing o an attack from predators. ey cannot even run quickly for very long. And not only can a lamb become lost, but because it lacks any homing instinct, it is quite helpless in nding is way back to the ock or the pasture. And once lost, it will frequently simply sit down and wait, not even bleating in distress. e best protection for sheep is to stay together in a group. Even then, the slightest noise can send them into a panic or cause a whole herd to stampede, sometimes to their death. e presence of their shepherd exerts an immediate calming eect on the sheep.16 Matthew 18:13–14; Luke 15:6–7 “likewise, joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth” Jesus used the parable of “the lost sheep,” to describe the importance of nding and leading sinners back to God’s fold. God nds joy and celebrates with every individual carefully brought back. Reproving Another Matthew 18:15–18; Luke 17:3Matthew 18:15 “between thee and him alone” Jesus taught that the best way to approach a disagreement is to privately discuss the oense (also see Matthew 5:25–26). Rabbis taught that even if full restoration were made, you would not obtain forgiveness until you ask for it from the person you have wronged. is is consistent with Jesus’ teaching. e Good Shepherd by James Tissot, 1899.
Page273Matthew 18:16 “But if his will not hear thee . . .” If the oender refuses reconciliation, the Mosaic law called for two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15). Christians, too, are familiar with the Lord using two or three witnesses to establish his truths (Matthew 18:16; John 8:17; 2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19). Matthew 18:18 “bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” is verse does not seem to belong. Right in the middle of a discussion on forgiveness, we nd a word-for-word repeat of Matthew 16:19. Was it a mistake? e Gospel of Matthew oen repeats phrases as dividing points or organizational markers in his Gospel. If it were intentional, why do you think Matthew has it here again? In Matthew’s context of Jesus speaking to the Twelve about their service, perhaps it has to do with the returning sheep being sealed. Does this have anything to do with the keys that were given on the Mount of Transguration in Matthew 17? Were the keys given to the other twelve apostles at this time? Were the twelve receiving instruc-tions on sealing ordinances?There Am I Matthew 18:19–20Matthew 18:19 “that they may not ask amiss” (JST) Returning to the theme of two witnesses, the Lord prom-ises the Twelve that if two of them ask for what is right (the stipulation added by the JST), the Lord will answer them. Interestingly, in the restoration context of binding and loosing, sealings are done in the presence of two witnesses. Matthew 18:20 “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I” e Lord expanded his direction from two or three of the Twelve to include all of his disciples who came to worship in his name. When we gather in unity and truth, our Savior (or the gi of his Spirit) can be in our midst. I love this promise! Espe-cially in light of the parable of the lost sheep and forgiveness. e two or three gathered seems to parallel with the two or three witnesses needed for reconciliation. Even a few who act in harmony with God’s will are blessed with his Spirit. Elder Bruce R. McConkie saw this verse as referring to those who have the Gi of the Holy Ghost: All of those who have made covenant in the waters of baptism to serve the Lord and who have, as a con-sequence, been promised the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Such great blessings as are here promised are not given automatically or promiscuously; they are reserved for those who through faith and obedience are conforming their lives to the divine standard. . ..
Page274ForgiveMatthew 18:21–22Matthew 18:21 “How o shall . . . I forgive?” e Jewish rule said that someone only needed to oer uncon-ditional forgiveness three times.17 is came from a reading of Amos 1:3, “for three transgressions . . . and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof.” In the D&C, as the Lord gave instructions to the Missouri saints during their persecution, He encouraged them to turn the other cheek with forgiveness four times. ese examples make Peter’s oer to forgive seven times a very generous one. Matthew 18:22 “seventy times seven” is number is both symbolic and real. It is a whole, complete, perfect level of forgiveness. Literally, 70 x 7 = 490, which was a number familiar at the time as “ten jubilees (or seventy weeks of years).”18 I think it is signicant that Jesus used this number as it is used in Daniel 9:2, in association with the Messiah’s arrival. Now that Christ is on the earth, he implemented the higher law of forgiveness that his Atonement can oer. We are eternally indebted to our Redeemer and can certainly learn to be patient and forgiving with others as we follow our Savior’s example to forgive. It is a very dierent principle here than Peter understood: “forgiveness from Jesus is qualitative not quantitative.”19 Jesus illustrated this important lesson with another story that Matthew alone recorded.e Parable of the Unmerciful Servant by Jan Sanders van Hemessen, ca. 1556. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
Page275Parable of The Unforgiving Servant Matthew 18:23–35Matthew 18:23–35 “a certain king . . . take[s] account of his servants” Jesus’ parable again seems to use exag-gerated numbers, but they provide signicant meaning. e rst man owed the king ten thousand talents. at is equivalent to billions and billions of dollars today—in a day where no one had that kind of money. at is like saying one person was in debt for the gross net worth of all the companies of Silicon Valley combined (i.e. Google, Apple, Facebook, etc.). e price does seem to be signicant as it relates to the Jewish nation. In the historical setting of Herod’s Temple, Josephus recorded that the entire temple treasury was worth 10,000 talents. Jesus contrasted that price—as large as one can imagine—in comparison to 100 pence, or 100 days labor at mini-mum wage. A BYU Studies article suggested another view: us, the unforgiving servant may in fact represent the king or the temple high priest into whose hands God had entrusted the keeping of that huge amount of sacred wealth. No one else in Judea could con-ceivably have held that kind of money. us, the political upshot of the parable may well be this: despite the great debts and oenses of the rulers of the temple against God, they can be readily forgiven by God, so long as they beg his forgiveness and worship him. When asked, however, to be generous to a com-moner in need of a small amount, the rich rulers of the temple will be unmoved, and as a consequence, they will be held personally accountable for the loss of the entire temple treasury.20Jesus used the temple as a reference to value, but the main message embeds the relationship between God’s for-giveness and our need to forgive others. I like Elder Robert E. Wells interpretation about this parable. We’re oen critical of others but easy on ourselves. We oen see clearly the faults of others but nd it dicult to see our own. We say we’re frank and honest when we speak critically of someone else, but feel oended, claiming that they are unfair, not tolerant or understanding, when others do the same about us. If we fail in anything, we produce half a dozen valid reasons why, which in others would be feeble excuses. e important lesson we learn in the parable of the unforgiving servant is that unless and until we have shown forgiveness to our fellowman, we can’t receive forgiveness of God.21 I presume that this parable would mean more to Peter soon, when he will desperately need the Savior’s for-giveness. Jesus gave another parable that speaks to humanity’s need for a Savior and Redeemer. It outlines the plan of salvation. It is found only in the Gospel of Luke
Page276THE PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN Luke 10:25–37I have seen many old gothic cathedrals, which use stain glass windows to tell biblical stories. Some depict Old Testament (OT) stories in conjunction with New Testament (NT) stories. Accounts from Jesus’ life oen parallel or fulll OT stories. For example, Noah’s ood is oen positioned next to Jesus’ baptism, or Moses’ manna with Jesus feeding of the 5,000. In a few cathedrals, I have seen the parable of the good Samaritan paired with the story of Adam and Eve. Aer researching this, John W. Welch found that many early Christian fathers and theo-logians throughout the middle ages interpreted the parable of the Good Samaritan as an allegory symbolizing Christ himself saving fallen humanity from their sins. ey saw it as a type and shadow of Christ’s redemption of humanity from the fall.22In this parable, Jesus again used images that would have startled his listeners. Historically, inns were lthy and unhealthy. Jews saw Samaritans as their enemy, unclean, evil, and selsh. At the time of the NT, the journey from Jerusalem to Jericho was very dangerous. ere were limestone caves that pot-marked the hillside and robbers lived there. No one with any sense would travel the road alone because of the robbers waiting to attack. Jericho was a famous resort town—even Herod the Great built a palace there (and stayed there while dying). e high-way between the “resort” town and the big city was well known.When we consider these details and read the parable as instructions on being a good neighbor, it becomes the source of much kindness, acts of service, and not judging. is is good, but if that is all we see, then we miss the symbols of God’s plan of salvation that are tucked into its message. e prophet Joseph Smith taught how to nd hidden meanings in parables or scriptures: “I have [a] key by which I understand the scripture. I inquire, what was the question which drew out the answers?”23With this parable we oen only see the last question, “who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29), but this was asked only to “justify” the lawyer. e question he asked rst is also answered in the parable, but it takes a deeper level of understanding, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25). Answering this question ties back to the allegory that the early church fathers saw with Adam and Eve.Allegorical view of the TextLuke 10:30 “A certain man, came down” In the allegorical view, the “man” is either Adam from the garden of Eden, or all humanity. e word “man” in Hebrew and Aramaic is “adam.” e emphasis is on “coming down”
Page277from the holy city “Jerusalem,” or heaven. Jerusalem is always “higher” spiritually than any place in the world to a Jew, so it appropriately can represent the Holy City, heaven, or the residence of God. at person leaves the presence of God with promises conferred from that holy setting. In the allegory the man goes from God’s city or a premortal realm in heaven to life on earth. e man also comes voluntarily and alone.“Jericho” e city of Jericho along with Babylon, Egypt, and Sodom and Gomorrah are used symbolically for worldliness. In opposition to the heavenly city, Jericho represents “the world.” It is the lowest city on the planet, 825 feet below sea level. In the allegorical view, it represents the fall, or coming to a fallen world for mortal life.“Fell among thieves” e man “fell/peripipto,” meaning, “to fall in with” or “to fall into misfortunes,” not “to fall down/pipto.” e early Christians saw the thieves as “opposing forces or evil spirits of false teachers.”24 In the alle-gory, the thieves are a deliberate pernicious group with a concerted intent, not random attackers, but devils with a plan. Similarly, all mortals on earth are faced with the opposition, temptation and false teachings of the devil. “stripped him of his raiment” Early church fathers (including Origen, Chrysostom and Augustine), saw the man’s loss of his raiment as the loss of his “robe of immortality” or a “robe of obedience.” e thieves did not rob him of any money, but of his garment. What state do humans have in heaven that they lose coming to earth? When this raiment or robe is taken away, the man is wounded. Perhaps it is spiritual death and he is le without his spiritual awareness or memory on earth.“woundedhim . . . leavinghimhalf dead” e wounds can be wounds to the spirit of humanity, but they do not kill him, he is only half dead. Something happened when leaving his heavenly home that hurt him so that on earth, he is missing his spiritual knowledge and now must walk by faith. However, the thieves can torment him only within certain bounds, not kill him (1 Corinthians 10:13). In the analogy of the plan of salvation, think of our rst and second deaths (spiritual death and physical death) is this imagery of “half-dead” (Alma 12:31–32). We are born into a fallen world. Furthermore, the sin that we engage with as fallen mortals does leave us “spiri-tually dead.”Luke 10:31–32 “A certain priest . . . [and] Levite” e early church fathers saw the priest as representative of the Law of Moses, and the Levite, the other sacred Jewish text, “e Prophets.” (Levites were lower-class temple workers—they helped as the butchers, janitors, policemen, and if they were lucky, musicians, at the temple.) In the allegorical view, neither the Law of Moses nor their other scriptures had power to save. eir law and their text were ultimately impotent. “passed by on the other side” ey came closer to the wounded man, but both men kept their distance to retain e Good Samaritan by James Tissot, 1899.
Page278ritual purity in order to work in the temple. In the allegorical view, they don’t convert to the Gospel, but remain on their Mosaic course, unable to heal or help with eternal salvation because they do not accept the higher law. Luke 10:33 “a certain Samaritan . . . had compassion” e Samaritan was seen by most of the early church Fathers to represent Christ. In John 8:48, antagonistic Jews referred derogatorily to Jesus as a Samaritan. Even though Isaiah’s chapters on the “suering servant” describe the Lord as an outcast, the Jews were not expecting their Messiah to share those traits (Isaiah 49, 52, 53).25 In this parable, Jesus chose this image for himself, speak-ing to how his colleagues thought of him. He equated himself with some of the Jews worst enemies for the past thousand years. Yet this Samaritan (Jesus) has compassion. Luke 10:34 “bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine” e Samaritan came up to the injured and bound up his wounds. He represents a divinely compassionate God. Clement saw God’s healing skills as faith, hope, and charity as the “ligatures . . . or salvation which cannot be undone.” John W. Welche pointed out, as Abraham bound Isaac, our souls are bound to the Lord. We are bound to the Lord through covenants. e Lord begins to replace the lost garments by rebuilding spiritual protection through wine and oil. ese represent the wine of Jesus’ atoning blood spilt in Gethsemane and on the cross. e oil, is healing as the “Anointed one/Mes-siah” administers it. e ordinances incorporating wine and oil become part of the healing process the Savior employs. Another translation reads, the wine and oil “gush” into the wound to disinfect and cleanse it.26“Set him on his own beast” Carrying the wounded on his own beast is the image of Jesus as our Redeemer car-rying humanity on and in his body. From the pains that caused his bleeding from every pour, to the wounds in his hands and sides, his body carried the debt of sin for each of us (Mosiah 3:7; D&C 19:18; 1 Peter 2:21–24). “brought him to an inn” e inn has long been interpreted as the church. Jesus carries us to salvation through his ministers and missionaries who work at the inn/the church. e Samaritan takes care of the wounded victim himself for the rst night and day. Luke 10:35 “on the morrow,” or aer Christ’s resurrection, He leaves the work of careful healing hands to His established church. e innkeeper may represent church workers, apostles, and others assigned to minister in the church.“Two pence” Several allegorical interpretations work here: e Father and Son, two instructions on charity, two days wages, symbolizing adequate provisions, temple tax suggesting fullled ritual obligations, and even aer the time established by the Lord when he will come—aer 2 more days Christ arose on the morning of the Resurrection.
Page279“when I come again, I will repay thee” e workers at the inn will be rewarded for their service to wounded humanity. Jesus promises that whatever you spend, will be returned. ey will be amply reimbursed for their sacrices for the church and fallen humanity at either the Second Coming or when they meet the Lord on the judgement day.27Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan beautifully illustrates the plan of salvation. e early Christians’ allegorical interpretation ts nicely with the restored understanding of Adam and Eve’s fall and journey on earth to return to heaven. is interpretation answers the lawyer’s rst question, “what is needed to inherit eternal life,” by showing the need to receive Jesus as our redeemer and exemplar in carrying out his work of healing and build-ing the church.Loving God: Martha and Mary Luke 10:38–42Luke placed these two stories next to each other as supportive theological messages (and without mentioning it, both near Jerusalem). Kent Brown sees Luke using the preceding parable on the Good Samaritan to show how to love one’s neighbor and this story to show how to love God.28 Luke also used both stories to break down other societal norms. Jesus’ restoration found good in Samaritans and in educating women. Luke 10:38 “Martha received him into her house” Martha’s name means, “mistress” (the feminine of “master”) and she lived up to her title by welcoming the whole group traveling with Jesus to her home (the JST adds dis-ciples too, “they entered”). Luke did not identify the village, but the Gospel of John records that Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived in Bethany, a village just 2.5 miles east of Jerusalem. By connecting this information, we nd a hint in Luke that Jesus had traveled down to Judea to stay with his friends. e JST also adds that it was Martha’s home. is was an unusual situation at the time, as women usually did not own property. It suggests that perhaps she is a widow and her husband le the house to her, or perhaps he was “Simon the Leper” (Matthew 26:6; Mark 14:3). Simon the Leper also had a home in Bethany where Jesus came to eat. Perhaps it is the same home, but due to Simon’s illness, he is removed from the public (perhaps to a leper’s colony) and Martha was le in charge of their home.29Luke 10:40 “Martha was cumbered about much serving” With the large group gathering for the dinner party in Jesus’ honor, Martha was distraught. Luke portrayed Martha as an upright Jewess trying to prepare her home and a meal for her many honored guests. Her workload led her to become frustrated with her sister’s lack of help. Even if she had servants or children to help (which she probably had even though it says, “serve alone”30), as the hostess, Martha’s workload would have felt overwhelming. e Greek word for “cumbered” is “diverted” and means “kept distracted.”31 is detail brings the story into our lives, as we too experience stress that can
Page280Jesus Rests at Bethany in the House of His Friends by William Hole, 1905.
Page281alter our perspective.“my sister hath le me to serve alone” It is as if Martha was saying: “Jesus don’t you see how burdened I am?” From the perspective of most Jews of the day, Mary—not Martha—was out of line. She sat at Jesus’ feet to learn from him which broke two laws: Women were not to speak to men and they were not to learn the Law. Some rabbis believed that a woman speaking to a man was so egregious that it was sucient cause for a divorce.32 Also, it was obvious that Mary neglected her domestic responsibilities before the dinner. Yet Jesus did not agree. is became a perfect setting for Jesus to knock down another false cultural practice.Luke 10:41 “. . . thou art careful and troubled about many things” Jesus noticed that Martha was frustrated and even “anxious” about her sister’s lack of help (ESV). His response to Martha sounds like a reminder of pri-orities to the modern reader, but to that ancient society, his response would have been completely shocking. In Greek it communicates that she is anxious and distracted of mind. e problem was not serving, but the timing and divided priorities.Luke 10:42 “But one thing is needful” When we look at life from an eternal perspective, the mortal u falls away and we are le with the need to “come unto Christ and be perfected in Him” (Moroni 10:32). Even daily bread and a shelter is superuous compared to our relationship with our Heavenly Parents and the Savior. 33 In this way Jesus emancipates those burdened by cares of the world, to seek for the better and best.“Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” Jesus’ last remark is especially touching in the context of the era. Jewish women owned nothing—everything they owned belonged to their fathers or guardians before marriage, and husbands aer. at included their clothing, food, and children. Even their lives could be sold into slavery if their father or husband thought it necessary. Jesus’ statement shows that women can own what they learn. Mary’s experience will develop more faith and knowledge and gave Mary (and by association, Martha) a richer life, for she will own her knowledge beyond this life: “Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection” (D&C 130:18). What Mary (and each of us) learned and experienced will be hers (ours) for an eternity. Jesus’ revolutionary endorsement of interacting with women, and encouraging their learning was radically inno-vative. Jesus was not speaking against the need for service nor to avoid household duties. Rather, his message was that learning of Him should be our priority. He also demonstrated that women may join in the world of the spirit and mind. Luke also wanted to share this message with the early church, and added it to his Gospel.
Page282ENDNOTES1. Capernaum, a city of 1,000 or less at the time, became Jesus’ home base aer his was rejected in Nazareth (Matthew 4:13). Perhaps his moved there to be away from Herod Antipas who imprisoned and later murdered John the Baptist in his frontier fortress, Machaerus (on the Jordan side of the Sea of Galilee). Mark 1:30 includes that Peter’s mother in law had a home in Capernaum. Luke 8:3 says that many female disciples assisted Jesus’ ministry monetarily and working alongside the apostles. ree are mentioned by name across the Gospels—Mary Magdala, Jonna and Susanna. Perhaps Susanna, hosted “the home” for Jesus in Capernaum, as I do not think the others held a permanent address in Capernaum. I assume Joanna lived near Herod Antipas’ palace as her husband, Chuza, was Herod’s steward; and Mary Magdalene was from Magdala (but she may have moved to Capernaum when Jesus did). e scriptures do not tell us where in Capernaum, or to whom “the home” belonged.2. Josephus, Against Apion. 2.25. Jacob Neusner, e Economics of the Mishnah (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 27. “One should train for the job all those who are employed on the estate, whether slaves or children or women.” David Sedley, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, XXV (Oxford, England: Oxford University,winter 2003), 213. Philo, A Volume of Questions and Solutions to Questions which arise in Genesis, I.29.3. According to tradition, the little child called to Jesus was 3-year-old St. Ignatius (Catholics claim his followed Peter as Bishop of Antioch until his martyrdom in Rome under Trajan4. Ben Sira, Ecclesiasticus, 23:7–15; 42:10–11.5. Philo of Alexandria, Pieter Willem van der Horst, trans., Philo’s Flaccus: e First Pogrom (Boston, MA: Brill, 2003), 70. e quote includes: “[Women] were always kept in seclusion and did not even appear at the house-door, and their unmarried daughters, who were conned to the women’s quarter, women who for modesty’s sake shunned the eyes of men, even their closest relatives.”6. Ben Sira, Ecclesiasticus, 22:6; 30:1, 2, 12; “He who disciplines his son will nd prot in him.”7. Avraham Steinberg, ed., Encyclopedia of Jewish Medical Ethics (Jerusalem, Israel: Feldheim, 2003), 682.8. Reta H. Finger, Of Widows and Meals: Communal Meals in the Book of Acts (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007), 100. Also see, Daniel Sperber, Roman Palestine 200–400, the Land: Crisis and Change in Agrarian Society as Reected in Rab-binic Sources (Tel Aviv, Israel: Bar-Ilan University, 1978).9. Richard N, Holzapfel, Eric D. Huntsman, omas A. Wayment, Jesus Christ and the World of the New Testament (SLC, UT: Deseret Book, 2006), 117.10. Strong, Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, 81; Greek dictionary for “oend/skandalizo.”11. Heber J. Grant wrote an ocial rst presidency statement to children included12. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:54.13. Harold B. Lee,e Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcra, 1996), 58-59.14. Hite, New Testament with JST, 102.15. John W. and Jeannie S. Welch, e Parables of Jesus: revealing the Plan of Salvation (American Fork: UT, Covenant Com-
Page283munications, 2019), 97.16. W.F. Albright and C. S. Mann, Anchor Bible: Matthew (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971), 223. is is quoting a later work, the Babylonian Talmud, compiled aer the time of Jesus, but claiming ideas from the Second Temple.17. Welch, Parables, 114.18. Alfred Edersheim, e Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, 3rd ed. (Mclean,VA: MacDonald, nd. Reprint of 1838),125.19. “Herodian Times and Historical Backgrounds,” BYU Studies, vol. 36 (1996-97), Number 3.20. Robert E. Wells, e Mount and the Master, 165.21. John W. Welch, “e Good Samaritan,” BYU Studies, vol 38; number 2 (Provo, UT: 1999),50–106. Some of the early church fathers include: Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Augustine, Isidore, and Eliguius.22. Joseph Smith, History of e Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, UT: reprint, 1964), 5.261. is statement is from Joseph Smith ’s Journal, kept by Willard Richards, Jan. 29, 1843.23. Welch, “e Good Samaritan,” 76.24. Dating from the rst and/or second centuries BC,the eighteen Psalms of Solomon, collect several ideas pointing toward the hope of their promised Messiah. No references to Isaiah’s suering servant passages or any other sign of a messiah who will be rejected are found. It was not an image that the Jews were expecting.25. Welch, “e Good Samaritan,” 82. 26. Ibid., 86. See Table 1 on https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/good-samaritan-type-and-shadow-plan-salvation27. Kent Brown, BYU New Testament Commentary: Luke (Provo, UT: BYU Studies, 2014), 544.28. Another overlapping evidence that Simon the Leper was part of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus’ family or home connections is based on the fact that at the supper in Bethany recorded in Matthew 26:6; Mark 14:3, a woman anoints Jesus’ head with pure nard, while John 12:3 speaks of a dinner at Bethany with Martha, Mary, and Lazarus when Mary uses pure nard to anoint Jesus.29. Wilson, Emancipation, chapter 8. e average middle-class household in the Greco-Roman at the time had 8 servants or slaves. e Jewish world probably had less.30. Brown, Luke, 542.31. Mishnah, Ketuboth 1:8.32. Jesus’ example honors women in their education and respects them as equal partners. e same view is seen by modern apostles like, Elder Richard G. Scott: “In some cultures, tradition places a man in a role to dominate, control, and regu-late all family aairs. at is not the way of the Lord. In some places the wife is almost owned by her husband, as if she were another of his personal possessions. at is a cruel, mistaken vision of marriage encouraged by Lucifer that every priesthood holder must reject. It is founded on the false premise that a man is somehow superior to a woman. Nothing could e farther from the truth” (Ensign, Nov 2008; “Honor the Priesthood and use it well,” 46).