Since meeting my goal to read all the books of the Bible*, I’ve been asking, “Where should I start next?” God answered me in so many ways. First, I attended an IF:Local Mandeville/Northshore at St. Timothy’s United Methodist Church. This year’s IF:Gathering dove into the Book of John. Then the following Sunday at Vintage Church the message “Big Easy Jesus: I am the bread” focused on John 6:25-69. And finally, in conversation with a friend, she casually mentioned that she was reading through John this Lent Season.
Ok, God… Got it! John it is…
Dear Heavenly Father, please speak to me through your word. What do you want me to hear from the Book of John? I pray your Holy Spirit is with me in these pages.
Before I share what popped out of the pages, I want to show you something I had just seen on YouTube: Christine Caine, Her testimony with Bishop TD Jakes. Her testimony is incredibly inspiring. I recommend watching the whole video but what stood out before I dove into John was what Bishop T.D. Jakes said at min 15:40. “The last ones to pour oil on the body of Jesus Christ was a nameless woman who slipped into the crowd and prepared his body for burial. Her anointing his body had prepared him for burial. Even though the men were somewhat upset about it and questioned it. He said, ‘leave this woman alone, leave this woman alone. She has prepared my body’ [John 12]. …and I believe in this last day, God is going to do something uniquely different amongst women and there’s going to be an oil and there’s going to be a flow and going to be a release…” -Bishop T.D. Jakes
Jesus Changes Water Into Wine (John 2)
Jesus’s first recorded miracle was at a wedding where his mother Mary asked Him to help when the wine had run out. Jesus responded to her “WOMAN, why do you involve me?…my hour has not come.” It should be noted that this form of ‘woman’ was not derogatory in the original texts (and shame on our culture for assuming the word woman to be derogatory). Jesus knew his mother’s name but he highlighted her as “WOMAN.” His mother said to the servants, “do whatever he tells you” and then she left. Note here that it was Mary who commanded the servants to do as He said. Short story, shorter; the master of the banquet said “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” Let me restate that; the best was saved for last. The best is yet to come.
Jesus talked with a Samaritan Woman (John 4)
Jesus came across a Samaritan woman at a well when he was traveling the long way from Judea to Galilee. He asked her for water from her jar. This was surprising and unusual to her. The Jewish people of that time did not associate with Samaritans. Jesus and this unnamed woman have a conversation and Jesus points out her sin. “You have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.” In this moment, she realizes Jesus is really looking at her and really knew her. He says, “WOMAN, believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father… in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” They continued to talk and Jesus revealed himself to her. She left her jar and went back to her town. She told everyone who would hear her. Because of her testimony, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him (v.39)” She was a broken, divorced woman who brought an entire community to Christ.
At the Crucifixion and Resurrection (John 19-20)
There were (at least) four women at the crucifixion: Jesus’s mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. Seeing his mother from the position on the cross, Jesus says, “WOMAN here is your son…” and to the disciple he loved “Here is your mother.” Again Jesus is highlighting ‘woman’ and not calling to her as Mary or Mother. He knows her. He knows her by name but calls out to her as ‘woman.’ Meanwhile, the disciple is not directly named in this text. The focus seems to be on her and her roles as Woman and Mother.
Three days later at the tomb, Mary Magdalene was present grieving the loss of her friend she loved. Jesus was alive. He was there. Jesus spoke to her although she did not initially recognize him, “WOMAN, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” She asked him where the body of her friend had been moved. It was only then that Jesus said, “Mary.” I can hear the love in his tone on the pages, “Mary.” Imagine the intensity she was feeling and expressing. I’m sure she grabbed him and tightly embraced her teacher, her friend, whom she loved. He told her “Do not to hold on to me…Go to my brothers and tell them…” Once again, Jesus sent a woman to share his message. This is one, if not the most, important message. Jesus is alive! He is risen! He is here with us!
A woman commanded the servants to do what Jesus says. A woman brought an entire community to Christ. A woman was called to mother a disciple Jesus loved. A woman was sent to share that Jesus was alive. A woman.