I don’t know if any of you have heard the phrase recently “black lives matter”, a reminder that sadly not everyone in our world gets treated the same, which is both sad and wrong. I wonder what you think about that?
I thought about what the Bible says about that too? And I thought about the creation story, where God creates human beings, Adam and Eve, and I realise that this story is reminding us that we are all brothers and sisters, part of one family, children of God…. As I thought about it some more, I thought too that everyone of us, no matter what colour our skin is, how old we are, whether we are a girl or a boy, whether we are rich or poor –we are all loved by God, and as a Christian I believe that Jesus died for each of us.
I want to tell you about a brilliant and really brave lady, they told her story recently on Dr. Who, her name was Rosa Parks, she was a Christian and she was black. In those days –the 1960’s- in America black people were not allowed to sit in the best seats on the bus, and if there were more white people than black people who wanted to sit down they would expect the black people to give up their seat, in fact that was the law! Well, on the 1st December 196 the bus filled up, and the driver ordered the black people to stand so the white people could sit down, and Rosa Parks said: “No!” –she get arrested and taken to court and she lost her job- but she started something huge, where black people stopped using the buses and walked until the bus company changed the rules. Rosa Parks staying sitting down on her seat on the bus led to many protests which changed the law and made it illegal for people to be treated differently because of the colour of their skin, if she had not stayed sat down on the bus we would not have had a black president of the united states. She was brave and she changed history; many, many years later in 1996 she received the medal of freedom from President Clinton –the highest award you can get!
I want to tell you a story that is in the Bible, and it is a story that many people have missed what I think is the most important bit of the story! Jesus was at the home of his friend Lazarus, Jesus is teaching people about God. At that time the only people who would be allowed to sit and listen to a Rabbi –a religious teacher would have been men (and normally only the brightest and most important ones). Yet Mary stayed sat at Jesus’ feet listening to what Jesus was saying. Everyone would have noticed and thought “she shouldn’t be here listening and learning, she should be helping in the kitchen”.
That was 2000 years ago, but some people still think like that today, and in some countries girls are still not allowed to go to school, there was a story that shocked the world when a really brave girl called Malala Yousafzai risked her life by going to school in Pakistan and someone tried to kill her, because they did not believe girls should go to school, girls should not learn or be educated.
Imagine this being how people thought at the time of Jesus.
Mary’s sister Martha was busy preparing food and sorting things out… Martha is getting very cross about it, having to do all this work on her own, and Mary was sat there listening to Jesus –eventually Martha looses her temper and says to Jesus:
“I’m busy doing all this work, and look at her she’s just sat around listening to you, tell her to come and help me” and Jesus said something revolutionary –something that must have shocked everyone who was there and said “No. Martha you are worried and upset about many things, but Mary has chosen the better thing”. Can you imagine how shocked everyone was?
Mary was brave and Jesus stuck up for her, I don’t believe Mary forgot this… Later we read in John’s Gospel that Jesus visited their home again and Mary anointed Jesus feet pouring expensive perfume on them –this act of love and generosity got her into trouble!
Yet, when everyone else had run away and left Jesus alone, Mary was there at the cross when Jesus died, and many Christians believe it was this Mary that was the first person to see Jesus alive. If you were going to pick someone to be a witness to the greatest event ever to occur in humanities history, then you’re going to chose someone who was there when it matters and you knew was brave.
Maybe, Jesus chose Mary to let her know that he was alive because she was the bravest and most courageous person he knew?