Saturday, September 9, 2017

Women in the Life of Jesus: Women at the Resurrection/Mary the Evangelist

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.  Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”
Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb.  So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first.  And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in.  Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there,  and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.  Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed.  For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.  Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.
But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.  And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.  Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”
Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.-John 20:1-18 (NKJV)

There was a flurry of activity amongst the disciples on the day of Jesus’ resurrection!  As I was reading, I noticed that each account by all four Gospel writers gives different details.  There was lots of running back and forth it seemed like, with the women and the men.  It was like putting a puzzle together, but way more fun.  If you want to read all four accounts you can go to Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20.  

Apparently there were many women there that day.  Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, Salome who is the mother of James and John, Joanna, and the other women (as told to us by Luke.)  They had all come bringing spices to anoint Jesus’ body. Now, why would they do that?  Because they all still thought He was dead.

Even though Jesus had told His disciples repeatedly He would rise from the dead, apparently nobody believed Him.  After the women see the empty tomb, and hear the angel’s message, they go and tell the men.  But they think they are speaking “nonsense.”  Human frailty was on display that day, but nevertheless Jesus was still bringing comfort, truth, and encouragement to them all.

The first person Jesus appeared to was Mary Magdalene, so I want to spend a little time talking about her.  She actually gets to have a conversation with Him.  And He gives her a message.  

Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.-John 20:17 (NKJV)
 Some have said that Mary Magdalene was an evangelist. The Greek word for evangelist means “bearer of good tidings.”  The Bible doesn’t refer to her as an evangelist, but it seems to me on that day she qualifies.  She was the first female to share the good news of the resurrection of Jesus.  She gets to tell the apostles that Jesus is alive and He is ascending to God.  

In Ephesians 4, there is a list of ministry gifts, but there is also a mention of His ascension as well.

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  Therefore He says:
“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.”
(Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?  He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, -Ephesians 4:7-12

According to Strong's Concordance, the Greek word for "men"  in Ephesians 4:8, And gave gifts to men, is the word "anthrōpos."  It means "man, human, mankind."

HELPS-Word Studies says "anthrōpos " relates to both genders (male and female) as both are created in the image of God – each equally vested with individual personhood and destiny.

In Great Truths to Live By, Kenneth Wuest explains, "There are two words in the Greek which mean man, anēr, which refers to a male individual of the human race, and anthrōpos, which is the racial generic term, and which has the general, generic idea of mankind.

The Lord has given these ministry gifts to women as well as men.  There is no distinction in this passage of scripture about whether men or women gets specific gifts.  It just says that the Lord gave “some.”  Just like the Lord privileged Mary Magdalene that day by giving her the opportunity to serve Him with that message, so He gives other women the same opportunity.  The ministry gifts listed in this passage are for serving.  We are all called to service in some way.
 Many blessings to you as you grow in the knowledge of Him,

To read more posts in this series, go here to Women in the Life of Jesus. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Women in the Life of Jesus: The Women at the Cross

All four writers of the Gospels mention the women at the Cross the day Jesus was crucified.  Some give more details than others, but they all four mention that women were there.  

Matthew’s Gospel says,

And many women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, were there looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.-Matthew 27:55-56 (NKJV)

Mark says,

There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome, who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.-Mark 15:40-41(NKJV)

Luke gives the least amount of detail.  His Gospel reads,

But all His acquaintances, and the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.-Luke 23:49 (NKJV)

John’s Gospel has the women up close.

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple who He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ The He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.-John 19:25-27 (NKJV)

There were a lot of woman at the Cross the day Jesus was crucified, some of them named and some of the unnamed.  One of the noticeable things about the women that day is many were named Mary.  I don’t think there are any coincidences in the Bible, or with God, so this must be significant.  

The Hebrew word for Mary means “obstinacy” or “rebellion.”  I have also seen the definition “bitter.”  So there was a lot of rebellion surrounding Jesus on the Cross that day.

In John’s Gospel, he describes a scene between Mary and John.

When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ The He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.-John 19:25-27 (NKJV)

I have always found this scenario very interesting.  Why would Jesus tell John to care for His  mother?  He had at least 5 other siblings.  Should they be responsible for the care of Mary?  She was also not an old woman when this took place.  Jesus was only 33 when He was crucified.  She had him at a very young age.  If she was 18 when Jesus was born, which scholars estimate she was much younger, she would still have only been 51 at Jesus’ death.  I am 45 and do not need to be cared for.  How could a woman so young need to be cared for?

I don’t think that was the point of this particular passage.

The name John means “Jehovah is gracious.”  So Jesus asked a man whose name means “Jehovah is gracious” to care for a woman whose name means “bitterness, rebellion, and obstinacy.”  John and Mary were a picture of what was happening in the spiritual realm.

There at the Cross that day grace came to care for rebellion.  That is what happened with Jesus’ death.  His grace came to care for our rebellion.  

May you grow in the knowledge of His love,

To read more posts in this series, go here to Women in the Life of Jesus. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

His Love is Always For Us

I know what’s it like to struggle, to go in and out of your walk with God.  To not feel good about yourself.  To feel like you don’t measure up.

The first three years of my life after I rededicated my life to the Lord were rough.  I didn’t have hardly any friends who were walking with Jesus.  The ones I did have that I knew well, were doing things that in my heart I didn’t want to do anymore.  But somehow I kept getting sucked back in.  

I would go to church for a while, but end up feeling like I was too bad to belong there, so I would quit going again.  This went on until I finally couldn’t take it anymore.  I literally felt myself grieving the Spirit of God.  It was not in a way that made me feel condemned or guilty, but in a way that a parent feels for a child when they are doing something that could hurt them.  The parent’s heart might be breaking, but the child continues to do something because they don’t understand that what they are doing is hurting them or their parent.

So, I finally came to that point that I wasn’t going to live the way I was living, no matter what.  I still didn’t have the tools I needed to overcome in my thoughts and my heart, even if my outward behavior was not the same as it had been before.

About eight months or so past this point, someone gave me a teaching tape of a message called “The Conquering Power of God’s Love.”  I hadn’t really ever heard a message like it before.  It was about how much God loves us and the extent and depth of that love.  I listened to that tape until it finally broke.  I listened to it so much, that I still listen to it in my head now, twenty years later.

I am convinced that this is what keeps people connected to Jesus, knowing who He is, because He is love, and how much He loves us.  We cannot ever stop steeping ourselves in this knowledge of the love of God.

He loves us and is always for us.  You will always find Jesus in the Gospels loving people.  

Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?-Romans 2:4

The word kindness in reference to God in this verse means “useful, gentle, pleasant, kind.”  That is always how He is dealing with you.  Always.  He is a gentle, pleasant, and kind God leading you back to Him.

Whenever I am having a bad day, whenever I feel bad about myself, I always spend time hearing and thinking about the love God has for me.  It is what keeps me anchored to Him.

I pray today that you would know that love and continue to grow in the knowledge of His love for you.


To hear a message about The Love of God, go here.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Passion in the Life of Peter

This morning I woke up thinking about passion and the life of the apostle Peter.  He started out almost afraid of Jesus.  When Jesus filled his boat full of fish, he said, "Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man." (Luke 5:8)  That didn't deter Jesus.  He told him, "From now on you will catch men." (Luke 5:10)

He was probably the most vocal of the twelve.  He said so many good things during Jesus' time on earth.  One of my favorites is when people were leaving Jesus and Jesus asked Peter and the others around him if they were going to leave Him too.  Peter says, "To whom would we go?  You have the words of eternal life." (John 6:68)

Then, when they come to take Jesus, Peter grabs a sword and cuts Malchus' ear off.  Jesus had just told him he would deny Him three times, and Peter still defends Jesus with his whole heart. (John 18:10)

After they take Jesus away, Peter follows.  He is only one of two disciples the Bible records as being there when they are interrogating Jesus.  Then he denies Jesus.  (Matthew 26) He is not recorded as being at the cross, but we see him on Resurrection Day. (John 20)

Later when Jesus appears to them in Galilee, and the disciples are fishing.  Peter is the only one to jump out of the boat and swim to Jesus on land.  Jesus restores Peter at that point with a beautiful conversation about love, and the job He has for Peter.  He does it for Peter, not for His sake.  (John 21)

Peter is in the upper room with the 120 on the day of Pentecost, and preached an awesome message and 3000 people get saved! (Acts 2)

Later, he is responsible for the first Gentiles coming into the Church! (Acts 10) People are healed through him and one woman, Tabitha is raised from the dead! (Acts 9)  He later writes 1 & 2 Peter, two of the epistles found in our Bible today!  

It is remarkable what Jesus can do with the human heart.  He took this timid, fearful man and turned him into a man full of passion and love and a heart for His Lord!  What can He do with you and me?

but grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.- 2 Peter 3:18 (NKJV)

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