Friday

15 May 2015

“One of the men who have accompanied us throughout the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us – one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” (vv. 21, 22)

Psalm: Psalm 15

 

Background

In the immediate days after the Ascension (see yesterday's notes) the believers gather to organise themselves, as Judas is no longer with them. Peter describes Judas' fate using Scripture, There was a strong tendency in the post-Resurrection community to use and interpret Scripture in this way, tying it in with what was happening currently. Luke is keen on this, using the example of Jesus on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-35 as the original example - "beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures" (Luke 24:27).

In this passage, Scripture ties in both with Judas' death and also apparently urges the appointment of his successor, "let another take his position of overseer" (v. 20, quoting Psalm 109:8). We know very well that this was a patriarchal age, but it is striking to reflect on the place of women amongst this smallish group of early Christians. Judas' successor is to be a 'man' who is part of the core group, one of the 70 evangelists (see Luke 10) perhaps, who was also present when Jesus ascended. Of course we know nothing about the men in either of these groups, except for these two - Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias - and we do not hear of them again. However, there must have been women in both groups, as well as two other places where the men were not present - at the foot of the cross (apart from the "beloved disciple") and at the tomb, seeing either angels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) or Jesus himself (John).

The significant role of these women as supporters of Jesus and the early Christian movement, hosting the first house church (see Acts 12) and as the first witnesses of the Resurrection is not fully recognised. This is another reminder of the message of today's focus verse - in the early Christian community there were a number of people who were with Jesus for the whole of his ministry, without us knowing who they are. Most of us fall into this group as today's witnesses who are not famous but are Jesus' ongoing representatives.


To Ponder

  • What is your take on Scripture being fulfilled, both then and now?
  • How do you relate to biblical patriarchy and the more inclusive outlook of many churches today?
  • How would you tell the story of women's important role in the early Christian community?


Bible notes author:  Julian Bond

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