Thursday, January 13, 2011

Listen and Learn

Luke 10:39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching.

39 καὶ τῇδε ἦν ἀδελφὴ καλουμένη Μαριάμ, [ἣ] καὶ παρακαθεσθεῖσα πρὸς τοὺς πόδας τοῦ κυρίου ἤκουεν τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ.

This is part of a short narrative after the parable of the Good Samaritan.  It's one that always hits home with me. And as I think about it I don't think that it is a coincidence to find it juxtaposed with that parable.  The "she" in this story is Martha.  Martha was busy getting things ready.  I picture her like a mom at Thanksgiving who works tirelessly in the kitchen while a bunch of folks sit in the living room eating from a cheese ball and watching football.  She becomes indignant that Mary isn't helping.

The thing is that Mary isn't just watching football and eating processed cheese product.  She is sitting at the feet of Jesus.  The word παρακαθεσθεῖσα is an aorist passive participle.  All that means is that she was sitting.  What did she do?  She ἤκουεν τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ.  This is in the imperfect, which refers to something in the past.  In other words, the translation captures it perfect.  She listened to His words.

What do we learn from this?  We learn that there is something noble to sitting at Jesus' feet.  However, its juxtaposition with the parable of the Good Samaritan also tells us that we should not be on the swinging pendulum.  I think that we all naturally tend to prefer either doing or sitting.  Sermons on the Good Samaritan exhort us to get up and help our neighbor.  Sermons on this passage exhort us to sit at Jesus' feet and listen.  We need to do both.

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