This morning I was in Luke 11 and among the many rich teachings in that chapter I was able to find some humor. Jesus is midst of teaching when....
27 And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, "Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!"
28 But He said, "More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"
It is a short and simple instruction: blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it. It's a good lesson that is calling us to read the word of God and to do what it says!
But was funny to me is what Jesus is responding to. All I could think of was there was a groupie in the crowd. I mean, think about it. " Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts that nursed You! " Now imagine it said suggestively. Jesus definitely had a fan in the crowd. Talk about an awkward moment.
Okay I know that's silly. There's no funny business going on in the Bible!
So I'm crazy. The woman was pure as the driven snow and was merely paying homage to Jesus' mother Mary.
If that's the case, why? As far as I can tell. Mary's not there. Jesus is doing all the talking. Perhaps this was a customary form of compliment back in the day or maybe she was trying to gain favor in the eyes of Jesus? or the crowd? Was this a female Pharisee trying to look good in public?
Perhaps like people in my former tradition, Roman Catholicism, she had a deep genuine reverence for the Jesus' mother. I recently attended the first communion of my niece and I vividly recall the statue of the Virgin Mary adorned with a fresh crown of flowers. I recently ran a 5k hosted by a Catholic school and before the race was run the "Our Father" and "Hail Mary" was said. The Funny thing is that I loved that these prayers were said in public and I felt that old power of group recitation. It didn't help with my performance in the race although I did thank God it was over at the end. Maybe the woman was just showing respect.
Regardless of the intentions of the woman, Jesus, the perfect teacher, teaches the perfect lesson.
Regardless if the woman's words were said out of lust, out of an attempt to gain favor, or out of the most holy reverence for Mary: Jesus says to Read the Word of God and do what it says.
He's not saying that Mary isn't important or isn't to be respected as an example of faith. However, Jesus says "More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"
So say the Hail Mary before the race, but don't forget to read your Bible and try to do what it says afterward.
In Luke, before this woman spoke up, Jesus said:
9 "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
I don't care what denomination you belong to, we are to continually seek God and to deepen our relationship with Christ.