Lent for Everyone (7) Journey with Jesus: Christ She said to Jesus, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world” (Jn 11:27).
The miraculous virgin birth of Jesus without a human sexual union is affirmed in His family history. The Bible says, “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ” (Matt 1:16). Prophet Isaiah promised a virgin-born child who would be called “Immanuel,” meaning “God with us” (Is 7:14). Isaiah’s prediction was made 700 years before the birth of Christ. Jesus is the Christ. He is God come to us in flesh as our suffering King.
Today is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate women everywhere for their contributions to God’s work and to the world in general. International Women’s Day is a day to appreciate, pray and encourage others to stand for women’s spirituality, dignity and value in the family, church, society and around the world.
Let us first reflect on some women in the Bible who God used for His glory. Mary was chosen by God to bear and be an earthly mother to His Son (Lk 1:26-33). Elizabeth gave birth to and raised John the Baptist (Lk 1:13-17). Esther married a pagan king and saved God’s people (Esther 2:8-9, 17; 7:2-8:17). Deborah was a judge over Israel (Judg 4:4). The virtuous woman purchased land and planted a vineyard (Prov 31:16). Rahab hid the Israelite spies from danger and became part of the bloodline of Christ as Boaz’s mother (Josh 6:17; Matt 1:5). Ruth selflessly cared for her mother-in-law and reaped grain in the fields. She married Boaz and became the grandmother of King David, entering the bloodline of Christ (Ruth 1:14-17). Tabitha was known for her good works and was raised from the dead (Acts 9:36-40). Lydia was a businesswoman who hosted Paul and Silas (Acts 16:14). Rhoda was in the prayer group for Peter (Acts 12:12-13). Mary and Martha were two of Jesus’ closest friends (Jn 11:5).
Today, God is using single and married women to change the global course of history and renew His Kingdom. We thank God for women working and serving ‘as missionaries, teachers, lawyers, politicians, doctors, nurses, engineers, artists, businesswomen, wives, mothers, and in hundreds of other positions to accomplish His work in this world.’
On this International Women’s Day, our Lenten reflection is built daily upon a scriptural metaphor or title for Jesus Christ. What a better and a renewing way to celebrate our women with a model of a woman very close to Jesus. Her name is Martha. She recognised exactly who Jesus is and trusted completely in Jesus’ power, love and purpose. International Women’s Day is a day to remember not just how far women have come and how far they ‘still have to go to achieve equality between the sexes.’ Today’s story from the gospel according to John is a story about many lessons. Martha has complete faith in Jesus that He will heal her brother. Martha and her siblings, Mary and Lazarus as followers of Jesus were aware of Jesus’ teachings. Martha put her trust and faith in Christ, to the extent of following Jesus while grieving a loss she knows God could have prevented (Jn 11:21-22). Martha’s response to Jesus’ question ‘shows that her faith is both powerful and informed’ hence, she ‘labels Jesus with four main titles with different meaning: “Lord,” “Christ,” “Son of God,” and the One “coming into the world (Jn 11:26). Martha called Jesus “Lord” as her ultimate authority> She called Jesus “Christ” in relation to His role as the Messiah, or the “Anointed One.’ She called Jesus “Son of God” with reference to His role as Messiah. She called Jesus the One “coming into the world” our Coming King (Zech 9:9).
Martha, beyond her shortcoming is recognised as a woman of faith in Christ (Lk 10:40-41). Martha made a powerful profession of faith based on her believe in the last Resurrection. She said to Jesus, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world” (Jn 11:27). Martha as one of the few true followers of Christ points us to a journey of becoming like Christ.
We become like Christ through Lent’s spiritual discipline, trust and faith. Just as Advent prepares us to understand the incarnation, Lent is a time to grasp the full meaning of Christ’s crucifixion and the glorious power of resurrection like Martha. The reality of Christian’s spiritual life is the Christ story. Apostle Paul said “I have been crucified with Christ; and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:19-20). Lent reminds us that, in a sense, all Christians have been crucified with Christ on the cross. On this International Women’s Day, let us celebrate Christ for His inclusively exclusive love and salvic plans for every one of us, regardless of whether we are male or female (Jn 3:16). Happy renewing International Women’s Day