Finding yourself in the story
I found myself in the Bible. Not by name but by association. Right there at the Cross – what we now call the “Easter Story.”
The New Living Translation gives a concise summary of the Matthew 26:1-28:20 passage. It simply reads:
After facing much opposition for his teaching, Jesus is betrayed by Judas, denied by the disciples, crucified, and he dies. Three days later he rises from the dead. The long-awaited King has brought in his Kingdom, but it is different than expected, for he reigns in our heart until the day comes again to establish a new and perfect world.
As one who has heard this story many times and lived decades of Easter celebrations, I opened my Bible today asking the Lord for a new perspective, a fresh view of the suffering, the miraculous or perhaps some of what happened before or after.
I remember a different story-telling event from several years ago. I held my two-year-old granddaughter, Te’a, as we read a book from my boxed set of Curious George. She is my sixth grandchild, and I had read George hundreds of times. But this one brought a new insight. Her older brother, Kai, paused as he passed by and gave me a little wink. I later asked him about it.
“Grandma, Te’a entered the story!”
Entering the story. Yes, that was my intent as I opened my Bible today. I read slowly hoping to capture images of what occurred that changed the world forever. I wanted fresh eyes, as though it was my first reading.
Entering. This kind of reading is a way to meditate. I’m just learning the practice, and it requires both quiet and time. Tracy Balzer says, “Meditation can only do its best work in us when we are quiet enough to listen and carefully digest what is at hand.”
As I read the familiar, I was suddenly caught up by the first four words of Matthew 27:55:
"Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the other of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. “
Who were these unnamed “many women”?
In his intriguing book, No Ordinary People, David McLaughlan, speculates about this unique group and writes:
…The unnamed women…As supporters of Jesus’ ministry and followers of His, they needed to have the freedom to travel, which suggests they were most likely widows or older unmarried women. They most likely had some disposable income that they were willing to spend in pursuance of God’s work.
After the death of Jesus, they could have quietly returned home – but then came the resurrection. The mission still on, these women probably continued supporting the disciples, perhaps even playing important roles in the fledging church.
I identify in some ways with these women. Also older and free, I think I’d have been drawn to join their small group in their effort to support the disciples and the young church.
Today many in our culture are drawn to recognition through lofty goals of changing the world. I applaud those who courageously take big steps in answer to God’s call. But honestly, I’m thinking few people are those kind of “world-changers.” Most of us are given assignments by the Lord that require something else – faithful, humble service.
They did what they did out of love for Jesus. Their efforts would have cost them time, money, perhaps social status and marital or family prospects – but the rewards implicit in His love would have outweighed all of that.
They enabled the earthly ministry of Jesus and stayed with Him as He brought that mission to its heartbreaking conclusion. Then they helped ensure the message lived on. Their places in heaven were most certainly assured.
These many women – nameless but with lasting impact – encourage me to pursue the humble service that is God’s call for me.
TO CONSIDER: Where do you find yourself in the Easter story this year?