Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Requiem for the Messiah

For the past month, we have looked at a few women in the gospels; women who knew Jesus.  Women who felt the weight of the Savior’s hand, heard the timbre of the Messiah’s voice, and peered into the eyes of the Eternal Son of God.  Each woman who saw the Christ was changed because of him.  Each has been preserved in the Holy Scriptures because her interacting with Jesus has something to teach us, these millennia later.  But the women we have studied are not the only ones who knew our Lord.  A number of women physically journeyed with Jesus during his ministry; some were significant enough participants in his ministry so that they are remembered by name in the gospels: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna are listed specifically, along with “many others…[who] were helping to support [Jesus’ ministry] out of their own means.”[1]  That Jesus allowed women a prominent place as disciples would have been revolutionary, and meant that “distinctions of privilege and superiority over subservience and inferiority would not exist” in the age to come.[2] And it is women who stay with Jesus from his trial all the way to the tomb.  Though each gospel author has a different manner of portraying the resurrection, both men and women play a part in each.  Much has been made over Mark’s gospel, as he portrays the women as afraid and saying nothing to anyone; some scholars suggest that cultural conventions of the time prevent their speaking, others claim it was because throughout Mark’s gospel Jesus commanded silence regarding his Messianic identity, and still other scholars blame Mark himself for purposefully silencing women.  However, his seemingly negative treatment of women disciples should be considered an assimilation of women into the greater motif of disciples, as Mark treats the male disciples with the same negativity throughout his gospel.[3]  While in Luke “at the end, it is the women who model the key to the gospel’s power.  At the tomb, the women ‘remembered’ Jesus’ words…and the women carry the story on.”[4] Perhaps Mark’s account is meant to balance any feminist exalting of the female disciples over the males, as Bauckman states, merely because Mark’s gospel ends does not imply an ending to the story as a whole.[5] 

Thus throughout his life, and even after his death and resurrection, women remained faithful to the ministry of Jesus Christ.  The ministry of Jesus was expanded and greater because of these women.  He engaged them in their respective communities and life situations.  He permitted their individual expressions of devotion and service, without placing culturally expected parameters on them.  And after he left them, for the glory of heaven and the building of his kingdom, they carried his message, his story, to others.  They lived his gospel in their lives; they took his presence with them as they walked.  They did not confine him to memory or house him in four walls.  There is no greater requiem for a risen and living Messiah, than the continuation of his incarnate ministry.  Undoubtedly, these women, as they had when they knew him here on earth, called others to Jesus.  Into the love and grace that could then and can still save the world.

Surely, as it was in the first century, so should it be in churches today. 


Enjoying this study?  Here is a link to more articles in this series: The Women Who Knew Jesus.

[1] Luke 8:2-3.
[2] Baggett, John F.  Seeing Through the Eyes of Jesus: His Revolutionary View of Reality and His Transcendent Significance for Faith.  Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008. Page 202.
[3] Corley, Kathleen E.  Women and the Historical Jesus: Feminist Myths of Christian Origins.  Santa Rosa: Polebridge Press, 200, page 137;
and Richard Bauckham, Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Bible, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002); and Baggett, Seeing Through the Eyes. 
[4] Ringe, Sharon.  Westminster Bible Companion: Luke.  ed. Patrick D. Miller and David L. Bartlett.  Lousiville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995. Page 12.
[5]Bauckham, Gospel Women, 293

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