I have been enjoying this book (God is Closer than You Think) so much that I have not yet sat down to solidify my thoughts on the last couple of chapters. Chapter 3 began with an outline of the relationship that Mary and Martha had with Jesus and moved on to what our relationship should and could be with Him. I must say, I have always enjoyed hearing the Bible explained in its historical context and John Ortberg provided a fascinating glimpse into the phrase “at the feet of Jesus…”
So often, the Bible story of Martha working hard and Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus is interpreted to mean that Martha should relax and just soak in God’s presence. Actually, that’s not what is meant at all. In Aramaic context, to be “at the feet of” someone means that you learn from them, that you are studying their ways in order to be more like them. Eastern disciples would compete with one another to be as close as possible to their respective rabbis. The disciples wanted to know how their teachers did each and every thing in their lives. In fact, a famous Jewish blessing went, “May you always be covered with the dust of your rabbi.” The Eastern culture considered nearness to its role model to be a great honor.
And, that is what Jesus is trying to teach Martha. He’s not saying that she should leave her duties, he is saying that she has been distracted by the many cares in her life. Her heart no longer yearns to be covered in the dust of her rabbi. As John Ortberg states, Jesus will be with us wherever we are. He will come into the kitchen, he will sit at the office desk. He will feed the children and walk the dogs with us. The position of our heart determines our proximity to God.