Covered in the Dust of Your Rabbi

Text: Luke 10:38-42

“But one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42 ESV)

We have a dachshund that loves to dig. That’s probably a bit redundant as this obstinate natured breed of dogs was bred to scent, chase, and flush out burrow-dwelling animals. You can always tell when our ornery little Mocha has been digging in the back yard because her nose is covered in dirt. She can’t get the evidence off quick enough!

Biblical scholars reveal that the first-century Jews had an expression they used to describe a disciple who followed their teacher closely and relentlessly. They were “covered in the dust” of their rabbi. Some consider this to reflect the imagery of a group of disciples sitting on the earth at the feet of their master, who is seated on a stool before them. While others embrace the idea that a rabbi’s disciples—those who took on his yoke (his set of interpretations of scripture)—followed so closely that the dust his feet kicked up from the road is what caked their clothing and lined their faces as they journeyed. In either case, it may be understood to convey the idea that the disciple should always remain within the ambit of his master’s “dust” or influence.

They would often offer the blessing: “May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi.”

When we are following Jesus closely, there will be traces of his presence in our lives. We will be covered in the dust of our rabbi. Or, like our backyard wiener dog, there will be evidence that we have been digging. We should intend to live so much in our Lord’s presence that we become dusty disciples.

In today’s text we see that Martha was very busy for Jesus. She was working hard to please him. Her intentions may have been good but she was also filled with anxiety and worry. The preparations of life overwhelmed her. Martha did nothing wrong in working hard for Jesus—that was good. Her problem was that she became “distracted with much serving.” She was distracted from what was most important to serving Jesus well—abiding in Jesus. Sure, Martha was doing constructive work; she just wasn’t doing it with the “one thing” necessary.

Excessive religious activity void of intimacy with Jesus often leads to frantic behavior—even bitterness towards others, as we see demonstrated in Martha’s attitude towards Mary. Yet Mary chose that “good portion.” She sat at the Lord’s feet being covered in the dust of her Rabbi.

Charles Spurgeon noted, “The way to get the revival is to begin at the Master’s feet; you must go there with Mary and afterwards you may work with Martha.”

We all have those Martha moments when we live under the illusion that worry enhances our ability to control the world. The danger of our worries is that they keep us frazzled in the kitchen instead of being covered in the presence of our Lord.

What if you were to wake up each morning and begin with a prayer similar to this: “Today, I wish to be covered in the dust of my rabbi”? What if you were to repeat that prayer throughout the day every time you faced a challenge? Jesus has made God’s presence scandalously available to anyone who wants it. May you find yourself covered in the dust of the Rabbi as you seek to abide in Him this week!


Heavenly Father, work is a gift with which you have entrusted us. Hard work is a heavenly virtue. Yet work apart from your presence makes us agitated, irritable, and edgy. It saps the life out of us, producing worry, discontentment, need for control, anxiety, even bitterness towards others. Yet you offer us a better way. We need our labor to be covered in the dust of your presence. Teach us to abide in your grace as we go about our daily toil and labor of love, and may your fragrance be upon us in all that we do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

twitter-64The answer to worry is not to try really hard to stop worrying. It is to be covered in the dust of your rabbi. Tweet this

Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:

  1. When have you been accused of being like someone else, good or bad?
  2. To what extent can you relate to the hurried, frantic personality of Martha?
  3. When have you struggled with the need to be in control lately?
  4. What do you suppose Jesus meant when He said “one thing is necessary”?
  5. What can you do this week to be more “covered in the dust of your Rabbi” as you face life’s challenges?


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