The Encourager

The Encourager

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The Women at the Cross; by Jeff Curtis

Saturday, May 14, 2022

The Women at the Cross

By Jeff Curtis


During Christ’s last three hours on the cross, according to John’s lists, several women were “standing by the cross of Jesus”: “His mother {Mary}, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene” (John 19:25). It is possible that “Mary the wife of Clopas” was the sister of Jesus’ mother, but we are probably to understand that the two were separate individuals. J.W. MaGarvey lists several reasons for this conclusion, including; 1) It is unlikely that two sisters would have had the same name – Mary. 2) “John gives two pairs of women, each pair coupled with an ‘and.’ The first pair is related to Jesus, and is unnamed, and is paralleled by the other pair which is not related and of which names are given. Hebrew writers often used such parallelism.” 3) Leaving Mary’s sister unnamed would accord with John’s practice of not naming anyone in his family. (John never named himself, his brother James, or his mother; he didn’t name the mother of Jesus either, who may have been his aunt). We conclude that John listed four women.


During Jesus’ last three hours on the cross – after the mother of Jesus had been led away (John 19:26-27), a group of three women were still at the cross, “looking on from a distance” (Matthew 27:55; Mark 15:40). Matthew’s list of these women reads like this: “Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee” (Matthew 27:56). Mark wrote, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome” (Mark 15:40). Two of the names are the same: Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James (the Less) and Joseph (Joses). This would indicate that the “Salome” of Mark’s list is the same as “the mother of the sone of Zebedee” in Matthew’s list. In other words, Salome was the mother of James and John.


Because Mary Magdalene appears in John’s earlier list and Matthew’s and Mark’s later lists, many scholars believe that the lists refer to the same women. If this is the case, keeping in mind the conclusions reached in earlier in this article, here is a comparative list:


John’s List                                                Matthew and Mark’s lists

Mary, the mother of Jesus                        (gone from the scene)

The sister of Jesus’ mother                       Salome, the wife of Zebedee

Mary, the wife of Clopas                          Mary, the mother of James and Joseph

Mary Magdalene                                       Mary Magdalene


Since “many other women” were also present (Mark 15:41), we cannot be dogmatic regarding the idea that Salome was the sister Jesus’ mother, Mary; but there is a strong possibility, that this was the case. This would make the apostles James and John, cousins to Jesus.



                       "COME ASIDE...AND REST A WHILE"

                                               (By Joe R. Price)

And He said to them, "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat (Mark 6:31, NKJV).

Jesus was in constant demand from the crowds. His apostles had just returned from their limited commission (Mark 6:7-13, 30). Finding a "deserted place" where one can "rest a while" is important to "recharge our batteries" and return to our work with renewed vigor. God rested after finishing His work of creating the heavens and the earth (Gen. 2:1-3).
God commanded Israel to rest from their labors every seventh day (Exod. 20:8-11; 31:12-17). Every seventh year their land was to rest from planting and harvesting (Lev. 25:1-7). Every fiftieth year, Israel's land was to rest during the year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:8-11). Rest should have a calming, comforting, and reassuring effect.

Rest also reminds us to trust the Lord for our strength instead of ourselves. Israel anticipated the rest God would give them from their enemies in the promised land (Josh. 1:14-15; 23:1). Christians look hopefully for eternal rest (Heb. 4:8-10; Rev. 14:12-13).

The Value of the Book of Leviticus

Saturday, May 07, 2022

The Value of the Book of Leviticus

by Jeff Curtis


That Leviticus is meaningful to the Christian is conveyed by the fact that it is quoted or alluded to about thirty times in the New Testament. In spite of that fact, we may be inclined to think that a book that deals so extensively with the Old Testament rituals has little or no value for us. However, Leviticus is useful for Christians in several ways.


First, the emphasis on “holiness” is directly applicable to Christians. We are told, “Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because as it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1Peter 1:15-16).


Second, the animal sacrifices described in Leviticus typified the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29; Hebrews 9:7-15). By learning more about animal sacrifices, Christians can better appreciate the sacrifice made by Christ. The necessity of the shedding of blood in God’s plan for atonement in the Old Testament system helps to explain the necessity for the shedding of Christ’s blood for our atonement (Leviticus 17:11; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:22).


Third, God’s requiring Israel to offer sacrifices foreshadowed His requirement for Christians today to offer spiritual sacrifices. For example, we offer our bodies as living sacrifices when we serve God and do good deeds (Romans 12:1-2). We offer a “sacrifice of praise to God” with our lips (Hebrews 13:15). Our financial support for the preaching of the gospel is “a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God” Philippians 4:18).


Fourth, the emphasis of the book on ritual should make Christians think again about our attitudes toward religious rituals. We may be inclined to downplay the importance of ritual or think in terms of “mere ritual.” Leviticus should cause us to rethink ritual as it is properly followed, including the heartfelt devotion and wholehearted participation of those who are involved in observing it.


Fifth, the ethical teachings and moral laws found in the book of Leviticus are instructive for Christians. It is true that the old law has been taken away (Galatians 3:24-25; Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 7:12). Nevertheless, its moral precepts differ little, if at all, from the ethical and moral requirements of the new covenant. Jesus Himself said the Law was based on the two great commands to love God and to love one’s neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40; Mark 12:29-31). Galatians 5:14 says, “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”


The principles that lie behind the specific statutes found in Leviticus 19, for example, can and should be applied to the Christian’s life today, because they illustrate what it means to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).


Leviticus should remind us as Christians that we become holy when we are saved by Christ’s sacrifice. Just as blood was important in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, so we are saved by blood – the blood of Christ. Then we are to remain holy. Through God’s grace and our continual cleansing by Christ’s blood, we remain holy as we strive to be separate from the world by obeying God’s law.

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