January 17, 2019

Women

By: Larry Shaffer

This picture hangs in my home office.

Thank you for praying for me on Tuesday as I shared the Word with Men at the Star of Hope Gospel Mission. God was very kind to me and blessed my time of teaching. The men were encouraging and appreciative.

Women 

John 20 

Christianity is sometimes accused of oppressing woman and suppressing their importance. I can’t speak to the way all supposed Christian men act, but the Bible, especially the life of Jesus, tells of many women who were immensely important in God’s plan and deeply loved and honored by Jesus. The first person that Jesus appeared to after his resurrection was Mary Magdalene, not the bone-headed disciples. 

John emphasizes the critical role of Mary Magdalene in the death and resurrection of Jesus. There’s no mention, except John, of the disciples being present at the crucifixion. However, John writes, But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. The Bible tells stories of noble women; sometimes outcasts in their time, wonderfully saved by the grace of God. There are many stories of women characterized by courage, passion and dedication.  Here’s just a few:

  • Rahab, the Harlot resided in Jericho when Joshua sent the spies in for precious intel before the attack. Rahab, by faith, took the spies in to her home at great risk and peril. She later married one of the Jewish spies and her descendants included King David and Jesus, the Messiah. She is greatly honored by being included in the genealogy of Matthew 1 and in the “Faith” hall of fame in Hebrews 11. 
  • Ruth, a Moabite idol-worshiper, was saved by the grace of God, moved to Bethlehem with her Jewish mother-in-law and became known among the village, even in her poverty, as a woman of excellence. A wealthy Jewish farmer and son of Rahab the harlot, Boaz, married her and she became the grandmother of King David and also was in the line of the Messiah. A Bible book was devoted to her story and her name is also listed in the genealogy of Matthew 1. 
  • Esther, a Jewish orphan, born in exile under the reign of Darius of Persia, rose to be Queen of Persia alongside Darius’ son, Ahasuerus. God called her and she responded with courage and superlative wisdom, to stop the genocide of the Jewish people within Persia. She risked her life to follow God’s call. A Bible book was devoted to her story. 
  • Jewish men weren’t supposed to talk to Samaritan women. But Jesus did. Jesus chose to not only talk to her but to bring her in on His plan to take the gospel to the Samaritans. She’s known as the woman at the well, an emotional mess of broken marriages and adultery, was chosen by God, redeemed by His loving grace and used to reach an entire region for Christ. Almost an entire chapter from John is devoted to her story. From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, John 4:39. 
  • Mary Magdalene was the leader of the women who traveled with Jesus and the disciples and ministered to them from their own resources. Mary Magdalene was in a terrible way when she first met Jesus. She was tormented with seven demons when Jesus found her. He cast out the demons and healed her and she became a faithful and courageous follower of Jesus. Rabbi’s didn’t have woman as disciples. But Jesus did. She and other women, traveled with Jesus, served faithfully and was present at the crucifixion and burial. She was the first person to see Jesus after His resurrection. History has speculated and sexualized Mary Magdalen, but the biblical record mentions nothing of that. 

It’s Easter morning, early while it is still dark.  Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and discovers the stone had been moved and the body is gone. She ran and told Peter and John that they have taken away the Lord. The disciples ran to the tomb and confirmed it was so. They then went into hiding, fearful of what has happened and of the Jews. However, Mary Magdalene couldn’t stay away from the tomb.  

She went back to the tomb, distraught and weeping. Jesus appears to her. (She is mentioned 12 times in the gospels -many more than some of the lesser known disciples). She had a sinful past but Jesus healed her of the demons that were tormenting her (Luke 8:2) and she became a faithful, devoted and passionately follower of Jesus. Jesus first appeared NOT to John, Peter or James…but to Mary Magdalene.  

It’s true that the disciples became the leaders of the church and would become known as bold and courageous preachers of the gospel. But Mary Magdalene was known as a true intimate of Jesus. Jesus called her by name. She was clinging to Jesus, always wanting to sit at His feet to worship Him and to learn from Him. From the moment He healed her of demon oppression and forgave her of her sin, she always remained close to Jesus.  

Lord and Savior, there is much I can learn from Mary Magdalen. I re-commit myself to be a passionate follower of You. Help me to be so. Amen.