Category Archives: Women in the scriptures

Mary, the Mother of Christ, III

Mary, the Mother of Christ


Mary, the mother of Christ is unique among all women in her divine role in giving birth to the Messiah. Her story is fascinating, regardless of whether we are Catholic, Muslim, or LDS. And yet, for the countless pages that have been written about her, we still know so little about Mary, the person, & Mary, the Mother of God.

Here is Part III of her story:


Her Earthly Family


Mary’s Parents & Lineage

The Gospel of Mathew records Joseph’s father as Jacob, son of Matthan…  However, Luke records a different genealogy with Jesus as the son of Joseph who was the son of Heli, son of Matthat.

Many Christian scholars attribute the difference to Mathew’s record as Joseph’s lineage while Luke records that of Mary. If so,  Mary & Joseph were likely first cousins. In either case, Jesus was be a descendant of King David and of the house of Judah.

Others scholars attribute the difference to an error in the record while tradition and early Christian writings declare her parents as Joachim and Anne. The Gospel of James, an apocryphal gospel written about AD 145, discusses Mary’s early life and identifies her parents as Joachim and Anne.

Elizabeth & Zachariah

Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, played an important role as John the Baptist’s mother. John’s mission was to prepare the way for Jesus in the spirit and power of ‘Elias’. John, as a descendant of Zachariah, and hence Aaron, would hold the Aaronic priesthood and the right to baptize others, including Jesus.

The relationship  is also important from the prophesy of Elizabeth  that Mary carried the ‘mother of my Lord.’ The story of Zacharias and Elizabeth are significant in their own right and demonstrate a wonderful love and faith in God, the Father.

The Brothers/Sisters of Christ

Scripture records that Jesus had four brothers — James, Joses, Simon, and Judas — and at least two sisters, probably three. The latter is based on Greek manuscripts of Mathew containing the phrase ‘ hai adelphia‘  (the sisters — a plural) vs.  ‘amphoterai’   (both) commonly used for two of (sisters). 1 Either way his family included several brothers & sisters.

The Family of Jesus in Scripture


While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him Matt. 12:46;
Mark 3:31
Is not this the carpenter’s son? s not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
And his sisters, are they not all with us?
Matt. 13:55-56
Mark 6:3
He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. John 1:41
After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days. John 2:12
For neither did his brethren believe in him. John 7:5
Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. John 19:27
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren Acts 1:14
But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. Gal. 1:19

A conflict does exist between the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations as to whether the ‘brothers’ mentioned in the New Testament were actually brothers or cousins. For me, the scriptures are clear:

  • (a) Jesus is recorded as the first-born of Mary, i.e., a ‘first born’ makes little sense without a ‘second born’;
  • (b) the Gospel of John 1: 41 uses language that  in Greek always means ‘brother’, never cousin; 2
  • (c) having a family would be integral to the Savior facing all the challenges of mortality …including those pesky brothers and sisters!

After the birth of Jesus and the wise men’s visit, Joseph and Mary were warned to flee unto Egypt to escape the tyrany (insanity) of Herod. There they remained until the Herod’s death (about AD 4) before returning to their home.

Given that Herod sought to slay all male children under the age of two, some authors suggest that Jesus was about 18 months old when they moved to Egypt where they lived until Herod’s death. Later, they sought to return to Judea but were warned to turn aside to Galilee (Nazareth) to escape Archelaus, son of Herod.

Hence, the first of Mary and Joseph’s children quite possibly were born in Egypt, and others later in Galilee. I also suspect that the sons were born in the same order as they were mentioned in scripture — given the importance of birth order in Judea.

In the absence of ‘hard data,’ family history research often employs a rule of thumb of 2-3 years between children to provide a ‘ball park’ estimate for children’s ages. With 6 known and probably seven+ siblings, Jesus grew up surrounded by infants, toddlers, and young siblings.

His love for children recorded in New Testament writings reflects that of a loving family life. It also could reflect time spent in a caregiver role of younger brothers and sisters after the death of Joseph. Either way, coming from a family where children were loved and cherished seemed to have a great impact on the Lord.

Mary, the Widow

The last record of Joseph was when Jesus was 12 in the temple, and a common belief is that he died between then and the wedding at Cana. With the 6 or 7 children that came along, likely every 2-3 years, Joseph could have passed away any time from when Jesus was a youth — the math would suggest maybe 15ish, but we really don’t know — until he was about 30.

The time Mary spent as a widow helps us appreciate the Savior’s stories of widows, e.g., the widow and her 2 mites. Although not likely, it’s possible that Mary was the widow that tithed the 2 mites. I am sure, though, that he observed his own mother tithing and knew well the sacrifices of widows & single parents.

After Joseph died, Jesus would have assumed a critical role in the family helping /teaching his younger brothers & sisters. The experience as a surrogate father of sorts would provide a keen understanding of the challenges righteous father’s face.

As the oldest son, he was also expected to play a critical role in providing for the family. He had learned his carpentry skills from his step-father, and later was remembered as a carpenter and carpenter’s son… the latter suggesting that Joseph was around long enough for the neighborhood to remember him.

Although scripture does not record the where/when of Joseph’s death, I firmly believe that Mary’s time as a widow played a significant role in the Savior’s mortal experience. The death of Joseph, would help him appreciate first hand the challenges faced by those who have lost a love one and struggle to provide and move forward. He would understand how difficult things can get & the sacrifice charity requires, e.g., the widow who offered Elijah a cake from her last bit of bread.

Mother of Children Who Doubt

Many have struggled with children who chose to disregard ‘God’s good word’, and Mary was no different. The Gospel of John records that Jesus’ brothers did not believe that he was the Messiah. Luke recorded a seeming rebuke in reminding all that his brothers and sisters are these which hear the word of God.

Carlfred Broderick in a 1987 Ensign article related how painful that it must have been at Calvary to not find his brothers supporting him or his mother:

From the cross, Jesus looked down at his distraught mother weeping together with a small cluster of disciples. She had four other sons, yet apparently none were present to comfort her.

The situation must have been quite difficult! Fortunately, the New Testament reveals that with time that the brothers of Jesus did gain a testimony with James eventually serving as an apostle.

In spite of her son’s disbelief, Mary proved faithful in her witness of Jesus, and traveled with him on several occasions. The gnostic Gospel of Thomas further relates that Jesus rarely traveled without the company of Mary, his mother, and Mary, Magdalene. If accurate, the record serves as but another example that displays Mary’s discipleship and that of Mary, Magdalene.

Her life with John the Beloved

At the crucifixion, Christ gave John charge of his mother, Mary.  We read in Luke that she was present with the 11 disciples in the upper room after the ascension. We know that John spent time in Ephesus, and wouldn’t be surprised if Mary was also there with him.

Tradition holds that she died at either Ephesus or Jerusalem surrounded by all the apostles. Indeed her life touched some of Heavenly Fathers most valiant children: She walked the earth with Jesus the infant, toddler, and adult. She was cared for by John the beloved after the crucifixion, and knew Cephas along with John the Baptist, the son of her cousin Elizabeth.

And it seems, she also got acquainted with Gabriel, angel of the Most High God…

Part 1 | 2 | 3 |      The Life of Mary in Video

[1] Robert J. Matthews, Selected Writings of Robert J. Matthews [1999], 232–333 as retrieved from http://www.lds.org/new-era/2006/12/mary-and-joseph?lang=eng on June 12,2012.

[2]   John 1:41

© 2019 by James Spruell All rights reserved

A ‘Help Meet’ – Ezer Knegdo

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”Genesis 2:18


The Rules of the Road

The scriptures could have laid husband & wife roles in Pharisee format as a formal set of do’s and don’ts. Alternatively, perhaps an informal approach might have been utilized, e.g., quietly decide ahead of time what needs to be done, then subtly suggest it to Adam …but do so in a way that let’s him think that it was his idea. Then thank him profusely for such a wonderful suggestion.

Unfortunately no matter how subtle, a Pharisee approach would yield only a small measure of compliance and certainly not to the level where we embrace, internalize, and take ownership of God’s good word on marriage.

Nope, the Hebrew version uses the phrase ‘help meet’, ezer knegdo, and there-in begins the engagement of the mind that yields a little over 2,000,000 hits on Google, numerous books, and countless discussions. This simple phrase so fundamental to gospel principles has led many, many authors to analyze, sway and even campaign for a particular view point in the hope of capturing its meaning.

And the discussion is quite understandable: We would like to know what Jehovah intended to be the pattern for husband and wife, i.e., ezer knegdo.

The Choices

Symbolic language can incorporate many different concepts layered within one another.  But just as importantly meanings have changed since the writing of the King James Version. Language is not static but quite dynamic, and capturing the literal translation of ancient Hebrew or any language is challenging. Additionally, phrases may have no direct translation — try the Southern phrase ‘I’m fixing to do it’as an example.

With much at stake, and many factors impinging upon our understanding, we are going to find a range of interpretations. One of my favorite was that of a Jewish scholar from the middle ages named Rashi who must have been married! His interpretation translates to

If he is worthy she shall be a help to him; if he is unworthy she shall be opposed to him, to fight him.1

A lot of wisdom and moxie is found in that translation, and one that men would be wise to remember.

Hebraic words are often far richer than those in the English language and may require looking at how the word or phrase is used in a variety of passages. The word ezer is no exception, and several authors have picked up on that the word doesn’t mean just help but a particular kind of help, even a ‘strong help’ or more over ‘God’s help’.

Wayne Simpson in Adam’s Rib 2 reminds us that this is more than a little ‘hand holding’, but the powerful help defined in the very nature of the Creator:

… for He (God) was my help. Ex 18:4
… The Lord, the shield of thy help Deut. 33:29
… Be thou (the Lord) a help to him from his enemies. Deut 33:7 “…

Created to Be an Ezer: the Help Meet Dilemma 3 shares with us another example:

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. –Psalms 121:1-2


[1] Retrieved on Jan 28th,2011 from http://being.publicradio.org/programs/marriageI/particulars.shtml Krista Tippett Blog on Being. (Website appears no longer valid.)

[2] Retrieved on Jan 28th,2011 from http://www.jasher.com/Adamsrib.htm. Wayne Simpson author. (Website appears no longer valid.)

[3] Retrieved on Jan 28th,2011 from http://www.hem-of-his-garment-bible-study.org/support-files/free-bible-study-created-to-be-an-ezer.pdf

© 2019 by James Spruell All rights reserved

 

Eve, A ‘Help Meet’

bible

“And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Genesis 2:18


One of the most sacred elements of the plan of creation is the relationship between husband and wife. The information isn’t hidden, buried in mid Old Testament passages between the who begat who’s, but rather is up front in chapter 2. Chapter 1 discusses concepts of the physical plan of creation ~ earth, water, etc. Chapter 2 contains his plan for marriage, i.e., the role of husband and wife.

Chapter 1, Creation Basics 101, begins with the fundamental concepts of separating light from dark, symbolic of the eternal struggle of good from evil. Then earth, water, skies, ‘critters’ are all added until Adam comes into being.

The real crowning moment of the creation, however, is the formation of a ‘help meet’, Eve, who is to be the mother of all. And although God’s description is quite generous in stating that it is not good for man to be alone, the reality is much more apparent.

Nope, we guys can make a real mess of things if left by ourselves — just read the news on any given day if you have lingering doubts. No, the crowning achievement was the creation of woman as a help meet for man .


A Sacred Role

The implication is clear that Eve’s role is sacred, to stand beside and sustain Adam in his trials even as Heavenly Father sustains and supports his children. The second part of the phrase ‘Help meet’ is the word knegdo that further defines the relation of husband and wife.

In a beautiful explanation from Women in the Scriptures, The Real Meaning of the Term Help Meet,’1  Diana Webb explained:

“Neged, a related word which means “against”, was one of the first words I learned in Hebrew. I thought it was very strange that God would create a companion for Adam that was “against” him! Later, I learned that kenegdo could also mean “in front of” or “opposite.” This still didn’t help much. Finally I heard it explained as being “exactly corresponding to,” like when you look at yourself in a mirror.”


Eve was not designed to be exactly like Adam. She was designed to be his mirror opposite, possessing the other half of the qualities, responsibilities, and attributes which he lacked. Just like Adam and Eve’s sexual organs were physically mirror opposites (one being internal and the other external) so were their their divine stewardship designed to be opposite but fit together perfectly to create life. Eve was Adam’s complete spiritual equal, endowed with a saving power that was opposite from his.”

The King James Version may also be an ole English way of saying (paraphrased), ‘a suitable helper for you’.

The author points out important aspects of God’s plan – that Eve and the role of women is sacred. She is to be an equal partner with Adam to sustain him in those trials that come upon all men.


[1] Retrieved from http://www.womeninthescriptures.com/2010/11/real-meaning-of-term-help-meet.html on Saturday, Jan 26, 2019.

 


© 2019 by James Spruell All rights reserved

Mary, the Mother of Christ, II

Mary, the mother of Christ is unique among all women in her divine role in giving birth to the Messiah. Her story is fascinating, regardless of whether we are Catholic, Muslim, or LDS. And yet, for the countless pages that have been written about her, we still know so little about Mary, the person, & Mary, the Mother of God.

Here is Part II of her story:


Unique among Women

Many are the unique experiences and qualities of Mary that extend beyond the obvious, i.e., the mother of the Messiah. Most notably, she was the only eyewitness of the Savior throughout his mortal life. In so doing, she obtained a testimony of the Lord’s divinity as well as his mortal mission on a very personal level… one which I’m sure that she shared with John the Beloved after he (John) took her into his home as his mother 1.

John’s testimony of Christ has a distinctive flavor that includes aspects and details missing in the other gospels. For example, in the three other gospels a clear separation exists between man and Yahweh …a continuation of Old Testament statutes. However, in John’s Gospel we see the clear joining of man and God as one in purpose. 2 We also see details about the Savior’s life not present in other records, e.g., the wedding at Cana.

Some of the above may result from his longevity and opportunity to progress in mortality. Others I suspect are a result of his care — assignment if you will — of Mary to himself. The presumption has always been that the Savior was commending his mother to John’s care. But perhaps, the Lord was also saying, ‘John, here is your mother… learn from her for she has much to share.’

The Gospel of John tells us that from that day forward, John took her into his own home. And, from then on, John who loved the Savior greatly would have much opportunity to talk with Mary about the Savior and his life.

John under went quite a transformation from a son of Thunder to a John the beloved filled with charity. The Book of Revelation is stark and quite a contrast from the Gospel of John and letters attributed to him. Although we digress but I do suspect that his association with Mary, select above all other women, had a marked impact across the years on the Lord’s beloved apostle. JMO

Lessons Learned:

  1. Parenting doesn’t stop at age 18, 21, or ?? but is a life long role. In Mary we see the impact and a mother’s love that extends throughout the Lord’s life. Anything we can learn here-in?
  2. If you had the opportunity to speak with Mary, what two things would you really like to know about the Savior’s life?

Also see:


[1] See John 19:25-27

[2] See John 17:21-23

© 2019 by James Spruell All rights reserved

Mary, the Mother of Christ

And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 1 Luke 47-48


Mary, the mother of Christ is unique among all women in her divine role in giving birth to the Messiah. Her story is fascinating, regardless of whether we are Catholic, Muslim, or Latter Day Saint. And yet, for the countless pages that have been written about her, we still know so little about Mary, the person, & Mary, the Mother of God.

Here are just a few things gleamed from her story:


… A Beehive in Israel

Young women ages 12-17 in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are organized into three distinct groups: Beehives (ages 12-13), Mia Maids (14-15), and Laurels (16-18). Why the distinction? The person that we call Mary was little more than a Beehive when she learned that she was to give birth to the Savior.

We are not talking about a Mia Maid, Laurel, or even a young woman just graduating from high school … but a Beehive. (Interestingly, a 14 year old boy named Joseph Smith was similarly entrusted with a great mission.)

During that period women in Judea were typically betrothed at age 12, married at age 13 1, i.e., the age of a Beehive. The perspective helps us appreciate in some small way the esteem to which Mary must have been held, her very character, & integrity. She was selected as a young woman of Beehive age, above all other women ever born, for this important event. For all the credit Eve may have ever received as being the ‘first,’ her mission would never carry with it the weight that Mary’s would.

It also reminds us of the respect that we should treat all youth with — for in those Young Women lay the mother of the Savior, in another perhaps a potential prophet, or maybe a wonderful companion. I remember well the harsh words of a self important high priest as he bragged how he put a young lady in her place. I wonder if he would feel the same if it had been Mary that he spoke with?


Challenges of ancient Judea

Challenges: those of youth, the role of women in ancient Judea (read that near slavery), no elementary school with free lunches, etc. But for whatever she endured, she rose above all of the injustice/embarrassment including the appearance of having a child while unmarried, being completely vulnerable to an unmerciful system in which women who committed adultery could be executed, sold as slaves, …along with the day to day hardships of disease, wars, invading Romans (OK, occupying Romans), and periodic famine/food shortages.

No, she rose above her surroundings and while I wasn’t physically present, the descriptions of her all recount a person of quiet dignity. Her response to a 12 year old in the temple, the wedding feast in Cana, all testify of divine attributes — a woman of virtue who knew no guile, a vessel that could bear and teach the Lord that which he would need to know.


Although the Savior was taught from on high in ways that are not yet revealed we also can be sure that a mother’s care was just as relevant then as perhaps it is today. The hours spent as a toddler at her side, as a ‘elementary age’ youth, trained and able to read and write scripture to the point of astonishing the Priests.

It’s not surprising that the Lord could read and write, and probably learned this either from his parents or from Mary’s cousins Elizabeth & Zechariah. The latter, Zachariah, as a Priest would certainly have known how to write and quite probably had a role in training the Messiah. (Everything within me tells me that John & Jesus knew each other long before his baptism.)

Although we may be getting a little ahead of our story, five character traits of Mary do stand out — ones that she displayed through out her life:

  • Courage both physical and moral. No record exists of her ever denying her role as mother of Christ, even while standing by (at a distance) during the Crucifixion, etc
  • Patience and endurance to travel to Bethlehem, pack it up to go to Egypt, and the most difficult — to endure the murder of her first born.
  • Faith almost beyond compare to have entertained angels and heavenly messengers
  • Profound wisdom to raise the Son of the Most High God, to have him at her side in his youth, to love him without guile, and to let him grow into that which he was.
  • Understanding to live a life time of middle class (carpenters were mc), yet humble in the knowledge of her divine role.

See the life of Mary and important events in her life in video…

Lessons Learned:

  1. From reading the scriptures, what traits did Mary possess that can help each of us in our role as a parent? As a Christian?
  2. What are two things that help increase our faith in God that we learn from Mary’s life?

1.  Data retrieved from Everyday life in the time of Jesus on May 11, 2012. An interesting read…

© 2019 by James Spruell All rights reserved

Women of Great Faith | Mary the Mother of Jesus

Christmas
Pic is from Pixabay.com

Few things give greater insight into the Savior, & who he was, than his relationship with others, especially women and children. With Christmas approaching,  we are focusing on Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Mary is unique among all women in her divine role in giving birth to the Messiah. Her story is fascinating, regardless of whether we are Catholic, Muslim, or Later Day Saints. And yet, for the countless pages that have been written about her, we still know so little about Mary, the person, & Mary, the Mother of God.

Here are 4 videos that provide some insight into this great woman and the birth of the Savior:


Mary, the Mother of Jesus

Mary, the Mother of Christ VideoThe Video, produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, reflects the quiet devotion and strength of Mary. Worth viewing. 2:21

 


An Angel Foretells Christ’s Birth to Mary

Foretelling Christ's Birth VideoThe angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary to announce the coming of Jesus. See Luke 1:26-38
Another video well worth viewing. Video time: 4:08

 


Mary and Elisabeth Rejoice Together

Mary and Elisabeth Rejoice Together VideoMary visits her relative Elizabeth who both rejoice in the coming birth. See Luke 1:39-55

Video time: 5:07

 


Mary and Joseph Travel to Bethlehem

Mary and Joseph Traveling to Bethlehem VideoMary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem where they cannot find a place to stay at an inn. Instead they find room only in a stable…. See Luke 2:4-7  Video time: 2:06

 


Parts 1 | 2 | 3 | The Life of Mary in Video

Additional clips from Mormon Messages 

© 2018 by James Spruell All rights reserved

Profound Lessons from Women in the Scriptures

The Two Mites
“A bronze Widow’s Mite or Prutah, minted by Alexander Jannaeus, King of Judaea” — from Wikipedia Commons

We often hear about Mary – the mother of the Savior, Mary Magdalene, Eve, and even the woman at the well as great teaching moments. But just as important are those lessons encapsulated in some very short passages. Three of my favorite are those below:


A touch of a robe, the gift of the Master

Many have exercised great faith, including a passing woman who needed only to touch the hem of his robe.


Healed by a touch is a woman whose faith was so great that she needed no fanfare or great declaration to be healed of her infirmity. No, she needed only to touch the hem of the Master’s robe to be healed.

He noticed immediately that virtue had gone forth, and commended her by acknowledging simply ‘who has touched my robe’. Of course he knew but wanted us to know of the great faith found in her humble touch.

So what’s so special — the ease of what was required, to be willing to reach out to the Savior such that even a slight touch was sufficient. The story reminds me of the many who perished in ancient Israel who were not willing to lift their eyes to the serpent — the smallest of gestures, the slightest of faith, the beginning of a mustard seed — to be healed.

Hidden in a coin


Was it a coin that she sought? Or, was it the child who was wayward?


Hidden in a coin was the mother who looked for the lost coin among the ten that she had. The coin that was lost? Not an old coin, but something far more valuable …a loved son or daughter in need.

Ever wonder why the Lord spoke of the 99 sheep, but of the 10 that belonged to the mother? It was her family, and he spoke of a mother’s love to find a cherished child.

Offerings of the Heart


Priests, Levites, the rich & powerful, all upstaged by a widow and her mite…


Hidden in a coin was the mother we talked about above. Hidden in the widow’s mite is the requirement for eternal life… the willingness to give all that we have.

Her story is short, only a few lines. But for any, and all serious about gaining eternal salvation, is the hidden path. Simple, but perplexing enough that it escaped Nicodemus.


Jesus Teaches about the Widow’s Mites

Mary, the Mother of Christ VideoThe Video, produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, reflects the true worship of one who had little by way of earthly possessions but possessed great riches in heaven. 0:59

© 2018 by James Spruell All rights reserved

Mary Magdalene

Gospel of Mary

Gospel of Mary, discovered in 1896. P. Oxyrhynchus L 3525, Papyrology Room, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford


Mary Magdalene appears to the immediate left in De Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ …an artist’s conception or divine inspiration?


Mary Magdalene, companion & disciple of Jesus, was trusted and greatly loved  by the Lord. At the tomb her sorrow and desire to know where they had taken her Lord turned to joy on hearing one word ‘Mary’. It was enough for she knew the Master’s voice, and immediately responded ‘Rabboni’ (Master) 1.

The parting of the sea in the movie The Ten Commandments reminds us of heaven’s great power. Mary’s humble request to know where they have taken her Lord melts the heart with her love and devotion.

So why has Mary Magdalene captured the interest & attention of so many …beyond that of the popular novel and movies? Her addition to the last supper (perhaps speculation) occurred well before the birth of any 20th century author. Although the codex Gospel of Mary was discovered circa 1896 2, translations weren’t widely available until more recently (read that internet). And yet, we wonder about her role.

The answer may be more simple than we realize — she is a profound example of Heavenly Father’s plan and truth restored. In great contrast, the adversary would cloud, degrade, and deny the role & divine nature of women — as companion, mothers, and disciples. Mary’s story reveals a quiet strength and life filled with love and virtue that honors all women.

During that era, an evolution in the Judeo/Christian view of women is evident — from Pre-Christ roles (chattel/property), to more prominent roles found in the New Testament, & then the gradual diminishing role/discipleship with the rise of a male priesthood in the early church (especially post 300 AD) — male egos at work? Maybe…


Whatever the case, each sees with eyes quite different than their neighbor’s. For example, one may see an architectural perfect 1963ish Vet, another will pop the hood to see that engine, or perhaps in the case of a few of female friends — just a bunch of old, pudgy guys with thinning hair trying to drive around looking cool.

In Mary’s case, what I see:

  • devoted disciple,
  • a wonderful friend/companion to the Lord,
  • a person whose personality shines through… even though very little is written directly in the scripture,
  • fearless at times & unashamed at the events of the crucifixion and burial,
  • faithful in continuing her discipleship after the acension,
  • and humble, very humble and sincere in her attitudes and reverence for God, the Father, and all that he created.

Lessons Learned:

  1. What could I learn from Mary’s devotion that would help me in my progression as a Christian?
  2. What else do you see in the life of Mary that really stands out… as disciple, woman, or as an example?

 

Mary Magdalene

Mary, the Mother of Christ VideoThe Video, produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, depicts the resurrection & meeting of Jesus with Mary, Magdalene. 4:01

 

[1} See John 20: 11-18. Mary’s response to refer to the Savior as Rabboni represents her reverence and silent love for the Master..

[2] For more information: The Gnostic Society Library, the Gospel of Mary – Wikipedia and/or Early Christian Writings: Gospel of Mary

© 2018 by James Spruell All rights reserved

The Woman at the Well

 

Carl_Heinrich_Bloch_-_Woman_at_the_Well
By Carl Heinrich Bloch ([Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Many have traveled along lonely paths carrying heavy burdens, hoping for relief. The woman at the well illustrates God’s love for his children in sending Jesus to teach and heal a beloved daughter.


The woman at the well is one of my favorite biblical stories. And, for many years I didn’t really know why, just that it was very touching. Often I heard suggestions that this Samaritan woman who had five husbands was quite promiscuous, unworthy by every measure. Yet intuition said otherwise. Why would the Savior travel so far out of his way to meet with the ‘one’, and how could she be so unworthy yet spiritually in tune enough to eventually recognize that she spoke with a prophet?

Much of her reputation may stem from comments that can be interpreted quite differently. The most often cited is a single line where the Savior declares that she has had five husbands and lives unmarried with another.

The assumption is that she has broken her marriage vows and deserted each eventually to live with a man to whom she was not married. Unfortunately, the latter especially conveys a promiscuous image.

The second hint at unworthiness came from her not going with the village women to the well in the morning but rather during the heat of the sun — a time when others would not be around. The well that she used was further away than those closer to the village, again allowing her to avoid contact with others.

So why did the Savior select the Samaritan woman to convey such a powerful message of God’s love? Was it to soften and prepare the way for the gospel to be carried throughout the world?

Or was it more personal in that she was the ‘1’ separated from the ‘99’ and needed encouragement? She clearly loved God for within her was a spirit that recognized and cherished the Messiah, rejoicing greatly in the knowledge.

Divorce in Judea

In her day divorce was simple, and could be done for almost any reason. She simply had to be given a writ of divorce and her clothes and belongings set outside. The Talmud allowed a man to divorce a woman “because she spoiled his dinner or simply because he finds another woman more attractive, and the woman’s consent to the divorce is not required”.[1] The 19th chapter of Mathew reinforces the ease of divorce that then prevailed: “The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” (Matthew 19:3).

Jewish law suggests that it was the woman who was abused for only men could initiate divorce and not women. As for her living with another man, she may have been a live-in cook of sorts. Custom may not have accepted a woman living alone.

We can also conclude that was she was not wealthy — women of wealth did not draw their own water. Yet she was willing to share that which she had with a stranger. And in turn, she too desired deeply to drink of the water that he freely brought to all on earth that would receive it.

His conversation with her is among the longest recorded in the New Testament. Her spirituality was keen enough to recognize that she stood with a prophet while her detractors — those whom she may have avoided by drawing water at noon — did not.

The Savior’s deep respect for women is well illustrated in his reaction to the Samaritan woman. In that season men did not speak to women publically although Jesus often did so. He had great reason to shun this woman for she not only was a Samaritan but a virtual outcast from her own people.

In short she was an outcast among the outcast — a contest that I wouldn’t want to win. But his conversation with her became symbolic of his great love.


She came to draw water from Jacob’s well at noon seeking only to quietly fill her vessel from the well. Afterwards, she left filled with joy and declared that she had found the Messiah.


At the well, the Good Shepherd left the 99 (he sent his apostles & disciples on ahead into Jericho) that he could tend to the one. Ever wonder how he knew that the one was in need, and that she would be at the well? The answer lies in the same as how he knew the fish contained the coin that would pay his taxes.

He left the 99 to search her out, specifically, not by chance, that he might tend to her wounds that she as you and I might always know of his great love.

A lesson learned

Ahhh, but the story’s not over, not quite. The Samaritan woman displayed considerable knowledge in the questions and comments that she posed of the Savior. She was not ignorant by any means but was earnestly seeking the truth, her heart was prepared and ready.

As Paul Harvey often related on his radio broadcasts, ‘And now for the rest of the story…’ the ‘one’ on hearing his message then turned to help convert many of the ’99’. The Samaritans saw no mighty miracle by mortal standards but the miracle of the heart swayed by a Savior’s love:

39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.

40 So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.

41 And many more believed because of his own word;

42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

43 Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee. …


John 4: 39-43

Jesus Teaches a Samaritan Woman

Mary, the Mother of Christ Video The video, produced by the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is from Mormon Messages… 3:56


Lessons Learned:

What is the real lesson(s) behind the Samaritan woman at the well?

Many in Jesus day expected a temporal Messiah, a king after the mold of King David. Instead, the Messiah was born in a manger, openly walked / talked with women, and related some of his most profound teachings through their greatest (or most disdained): the Samaritans? Why?

© 2018 by James Spruell All rights reserved