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You Belong Here

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:27
You Belong Here Book Cover

Have you ever wondered if Jesus really sees you?

Mary Magdalene, as a woman, did something extraordinary. In Luke 8:1–3 it states that she and some other women traveled with Jesus and the apostles. This was extraordinary because women were not permitted to sit at the feet of a rabbi to learn.

Rabbinic literature of the time placed women as inferior to men both socially and religiously. Here are a few of the restrictions Barbara J. MacHaffie highlights in Her Story: Women in Christian Tradition. Women were:

  • Not spoken to by men in public.
  • Seen as seducers of men, a temptation to be avoided.
  • Not permitted to testify in a court of law.
  • Not counted in the quorum for forming a synagogue or congregation.
  • Not allowed past the outer court in the temple in Jerusalem.
  • Seated separately in the synagogues.
  • Not permitted to read aloud or take on a public position.
  • Not permitted to study the Scriptures.

This same attitude is seen in Mark 16:9–11, when Magdalene rushes to the disciples to tell them she has seen the risen Christ. Verse 11 says, “But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.”

women who learned at the feet of Jesus

Jesus’s entire ministry involved challenging the status quo. He flipped tables, challenged religious leaders, and spent his time with sinners. He once walked through a field with the disciples, plucking heads of grain to eat, and even healed a man on the Sabbath, much to the dismay of the Pharisees (Mark 2:23–3:6).

In Luke 8:1–3 the women in the story are alongside the twelve Jesus teaches regularly. They travel with and provide for their material needs. Not only were they invited to the table with Jesus, they were financially making it possible for the men to be there as well. If the text here is not clear enough that women were permitted to sit at Jesus’s feet and learn, then another text shows this clearly.

In Luke 10:38–42 we find Jesus in the home of Martha and Mary. As we studied in week two, these women are the sisters of Lazarus. This Mary was revered for turning from her traditional role of service in the home and plopping herself down at the feet of the visiting rabbi to drink in all he has to teach. Be reminded of the words of Jesus to Martha, who argued that Mary’s place is in the kitchen: “Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (v. 42). Martha did nothing wrong, but Mary didn’t either.

Jesus welcomed and encouraged women to sit at his feet and learn in a culture that told them they did not belong there. He did not value one sex over the other. He saw male and female as they were created, in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). He welcomed everyone to follow him. Just as he still does.

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Daily Question

Is there something big you have felt called to but shied away from, believing it wasn’t your place as a woman? How does Mary Magdalene’s story challenge or confirm your views of womanhood?

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Comments (7)

We thank God that he doesn’t use extraordinary people but very ordinary people to give us hope that we all can be used by God and can have hope. Amen.
I love how God doesn’t value one sex over another.
Yes there was a time I had to go for an interview and the panelists was all males and I told them basically they needed to hire me because they needed a capable female in their team. It was a role I wasn’t qualified for but I told God if this role is for me I know you won’t leave me and I had a passion for it and God surprised me with that role. I thank God because it’s never about me but always about giving him all the honor and glory. Amen. By the way the panelists knew I was a woman who prayed!

Jesus loves all. He ministers and teaches all. He uses and blesses all. He does not discriminate between male & female,young & old, rich & poor, smart & simple. He loves all.

For a very long time the sense of belonging wasn’t much of my place. Partly coz i had a very low self esteem. Even when invited for a party, i would always feel out of place and you will find me in the kitchen cleaning up or just helping out with something. Never at the table!
God broke this and gave me a new identity and a sense of belonging. I endeavor at any given time to chose the right thing that cant be taken away from me; that is sitting at his feet, when He calls me to.

The story of MM helps me to consider how much Jesus breaks boundaries. There are many ideas I have had that I have limited myself from doing because I don’t think they are places reserved for “someone like me”. This devotion reminds me that Jesus breaks human traditions and cultures making spaces for women where society has said it is not possible for us to occupy. Jesus is reminding me to stop counting myself out, if he has placed me somewhere, I’m able to learn from him how to navigate that position.

He even shows that there’s nothing preventing my relationship with him, MM was given special privilege of being the first to witness Jesus’s resurrection.

I have felt called to servr in my church, but have never found my place. I have tried teaching Sunday school to pre+Kindergartners, served as usher, called back visitors to the church, worked in the food closet, and now work on the security team. I don’t really feel like I’ve found my place yet.

Mary Magdalene confirms my views of womanhood. I have always felt strong and independent, never felt less than a man or loved less by Jesus as compared to a man. We both have value!

There are things I’ve felt called to do, but not done. But I don’t think it’s ever been specifically because I am a woman. It’s usually more because I feel inferior in some way or am afraid to upset people. Mary Magdalene definitely reminds me that God values and uses women equally to me and gives me more courage to say the things that are scary and hard.

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