Monday Rewrite: A Woman’s Place

Jesus has the wrong sort of hands. Builder’s hands. Not rabbi’s. There isn’t a religious teacher in Israel walking around with those gnarled knuckles and cracked fingers. Carpenters don’t become rabbi’s. This guy looks like a cowboy. Going around changing the rules and flouting the law, and teaching other people to do the same. That can’t be right. His whole being is wrong. He doesn’t look noble enough, doesn’t look noble at all. It’s all wrong. Fisherman don’t become disciples. Toll collectors don’t. Freedom fighters don’t. And women. Certainly not women.

‘Jesus, I want a word.’ She hisses her demand at him.
Jesus sighs, straightens his robe and stands. She beckons and takes him outside.
‘This isn’t right. You know that don’t you? There’s already talk, you make matters worse like this.’
‘What kind of talk?’
‘You know. About you and the women you spend time with. You’ll lose all respect. I’m serious. No wonder the authorities won’t take you seriously, you’re always crossing boundaries. They think you’re a false prophet and you know what Moses said, false prophets must be stoned.’
‘Martha, what’s behind this?’
‘What d’you mean?’
‘This isn’t just concern for my reputation. Is it your sister?’
Martha purses her lips. Her face hardens, those lines on her brow furrow, those deep brown eyes narrow.
He smoothes a hand across her forehead. She snatches her head away, glances around.
‘Stop it! That’s what I mean. What will people think?’
‘People will think what they want to think. What’s bothering you about Mary?’

‘Tell her she’s in the wrong place. She shouldn’t be in that room with you men. Tell her she should be out the back with me preparing the food. I’ve seen her, and I’ve seen the way Thomas looks at her. And John. And he’s only young. You shouldn’t put temptation in his way like this. It’s naïve of you.’
Jesus’ eyes widen. ‘Naïve?’
She blushes.
‘You promise too much,’ she says. ‘She thinks she can be a disciple. It can only end disastrously. Look at her, now, look, arguing with the men, acting like one of them. It’s ridiculous.’
‘You’re wrong, Martha, she doesn’t want to be a disciple.’
Mary snorts at him, her face still flushed.
‘You haven’t heard her, when you’re not around she says dangerous things. She’s too cocky Jesus, you’re leading her up a dangerous path. She thinks she can be one of the boys.’
‘No, she thinks she can be one of the men.’
‘What d’you mean?’
‘She wants to be a rabbi, Martha, that’s why she’s sitting there soaking everything up. She wants to be a teacher.’

Luke 10: 38-42

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