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Wesley Bible: A Study Guide

Journey of Faith: Session 8

By Glory E. Dharmaraj, Ph.D.

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. ~I Corinthians 13: 13

(Optional: DVD on Resurrection Road available from Mission Resource Center. Stock number #3722-2005-01. Price $9.00)

MARY MAGDALENE 
Scripture: Luke 8: 1-3, Mark 15: 40-41.
Lectio Divina 
Use the method of divine reading or lectio divina

  • Read the Scripture passage slowly.  
  • Ponder the words or phrases that stay with you.   
  • Talk with God about what makes these words meaningful to you. 

Facilitator: (reads aloud the following first-person narration): 

I am Mary Magdalene. I come from the town of Magdala, a cosmopolitan city. A trade center on an international route. People of all kinds, cultures, and religions met on a common ground in that city.

You may be wondering why I am taking time to describe my city. The reason is all othr Resurrection Women are identified by their marital status, either as wife of someone or mother of someone. But I am identified by the city I came from. Mary Magdalene. A single woman from a cosmopolitan city. That is enough to raise suspicion in my days!

Jesus healed me. That is my story. You hear about me in Luke 8:1-3, along with Joanna and others. Doctor Luke records that Jesus drove seven demons out of me. It is very interesting how Western and Eastern Christian traditions have defined me later on, trying to locate what these demons are.

Most people have argued about my sexuality and are still arguing about it, as if sexuality were one of the demons! I guess people like to gossip about a single woman who happens to combine beauty and brain, and who wants to be independent. Down the years, some gossip columnists inside the church called me a prostitute, a hysterical woman, and even a half-crazy woman. 

"Do all the good you can; By all the means you can; In all the places you can; At all the times you can; To all the people you can; As long as ever you can."

Neither the gospel writers nor I can do anything about these rumors. But all the gospel writers have faithfully recorded my presence at Jesus' crucifixion, his burial, and resurrection. John gave me just a one-line speech. That is more powerful than all the writings against me. "I have seen the Lord" John 20: 18. This one line places me in the "spot light" on the Eastern morning! But, but Peter takes over. Good old Peter! You are not stranger to patriarchy in the church. Are you? 

In spite of men taking over the Easter Day spot light, St. Augustine  called me an "Apostle of Apostles." Eastern Orthodox tradition gave me the title, "Isotopolos," equal to the apostles. 

Yes. Jesus sent me with a mission task. To tell Peter and others that Jesus is going before them to Galilee. That is my task. To tell Peter and others that Jesus is walking ahead of them to Galilee. 

I invite you to follow the Risen One who makes the way bringing the resurrection message to the Galilees in their midst and the world, the marginalized places:

  • The Galilees of the homefront  
  • Galilees of the Jurisidiction  
  • Galilees of the Conferences 
  • Galilees of the districts  
  • Galilees of our homes  
  • Galilees of every community 

I, also, want to share with you an unforgettable lesson Jesus taught me on the Resurrection morning. He told me not touch him and stop clinging to him (John 20:17). I refused to let go. I was looking for the dead body of Jesus. Jesus had to say, "Let go. Grow up." 

The Risen One is walking ahead of us. Let us follow him wherever he leads us. 
Divide the participants into 4 groups. Each group reads Luke 8: 1-3, Mark 15: 40-41 AND the passage assigned to their specific group & answers the specific questions assigned to each of their respective groups: 
Scripture: (For all the participants) Luke 8: 1-3, Mark 15: 40-41, 
Group 1: Matthew 28: 1-15
Group 2:  Mark 16: 1-11
Group 3: Luke 24: 1-11
Group 4: John 20: 1-18

Group 1:
 Luke 8: 1-3, Mark 15: 40-41, Matthew 28: 1-15
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION (Group 1) 

     
  1. (Without looking into any Biblical passage) When you hear the name "Mary Magdalene," what are some of the images that come to your mind?   
  2.  
  3. According to Luke 8:1-3, what is the reason for Mary Magdalene to follow Jesus?  
  4.  
  5. Reading Mark 15: 40-41, what do we gather about the ministry of these women followers of Jesus?  
  6.  
  7. Read  Matthew 28: 1-15. What is the obstacle the Resurrection Women encountered in the story?  
  8.  
  9. What is the promise given to the Resurrection Women by Jesus?  

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION (Group 2)
Luke 8: 1-3, Mark 15: 40-41, Mark 16: 1-11

     
  1. (Without looking into any Biblical passage) When you hear the name "Mary Magdalene," what are some of the images that come to your mind?  
  2.  
  3. According to Luke 8:1-3, what is the reason for Mary Magdalene to follow Jesus?  
  4.  
  5. Reading Mark 15: 40-41, what do we gather about the ministry of these women followers of Jesus?  
  6.  
  7. Read Mark 16: 1-11. What is the obstacle Mary Magdalene, as a Resurrection woman, encountered in the story?  
  8.  
  9. What is the encouragement given by the white-robed person to the Resurrection Women? 

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION (Group 3)
Scripture:  Luke 8: 1-3, Mark 15: 40-41, Luke  24: 1-11

     
  1. (Without looking into any Biblical passage) When you hear the name "Mary Magdalene," what are some of the images that come to your mind?   
  2.  
  3. According to Luke 8:1-3, what is the reason for Mary Magdalene to follow Jesus? 
  4.  
  5. Reading Mark 15: 40-41, what do we gather about the ministry of these women followers of Jesus? 
  6.  
  7. Read Luke  24: 1-11. What is the obstacle the Resurrection Women encountered in the story? 
  8.  
  9. What strengthened the Resurrection women?  

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (Group 4)
Scripture:   Luke 8: 1-3, Mark 15: 40-41, John 20: 1-18

     
  1. (Without looking into any Biblical passage) When you hear the name "Mary Magdalene," what are some of the images that come to your mind?
  2.  
  3. According to Luke 8:1-3, what is the reason for Mary Magdalene to follow Jesus?
  4.  
  5. Reading Mark 15: 40-41, what do we gather about the ministry of these women followers of Jesus? 
  6.  
  7. Read John 20: 1-18. Why would Mary Magdalene hold on to Jesus? What was Jesus' response? 
  8.  
  9. John's gospel is the only gospel that records Mary Magdalene's words. What are they?

Facilitator: 
(To all the groups) Does any one of the gospels refer to Mary Magdalene as a prostitute? (gives time for discussion) 
Jesus' advice to Mary Magdalene "not to cling" to him is applicable to women down the centuries. 
Helen B. Montgomery, a leader of the ecumenical women's movement, at the turn of the last century, said, "…until all Christian women have learned that the cross of Christ is not to be sung about, nor wept over, not smothered in flowers, but set up in our pleasures; that He never commanded us to cling to that cross, but carry it, the work of missionary circle will not be done." (Report of the Ecumenical Conference, 1900. 1:217)

Do you agree with Montgomery? Why? Why not?

Mercy Oduyoye, an African theologian, summarizes the characteristics of women in mission:

  • Women in mission are communicators of love in action.
  • Women's approach to mission stresses partnership, mutuality, interdependence, and solidarity rather than giving (sending) and receiving.
  • Women in mission see themselves as commissioned by the Holy Spirit; as following the will of God, which they sometimes see as different from the will of authorities that rule the churches.
  • Women name the demons that plague the world, confront them, and cast them out as instructed by Jesus. 
  • Women have a passion for justice.
  • Being in mission unites women across barriers; they acknowledge their diversities but also the source of their unity in Christ. 

(Mission: Responding to God's Grace: A Policy Statement on Giving of the Women's Division, page 10)

The United Nations and Millennial Development Goals:
Along with 188 nations, the United Nations adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration. Some of the goals of this declaration are cutting extreme poverty and hunger, combating HIV/AIDs, providing access to clean water and sanitation, and offering universal primary education by the year 2015. Visit UN Millennium Development Goals at www.un.org/millenniumgoals  to learn about the context of today's world where Christian mission is to be accomplished, with other Non-Governmental Organizations and partner organizations. 

Wesleyan Life Application: Mission
Jesus sends the disciples out on their own to proclaim and live the life Jesus lives in their presence. They are on their own because Jesus is not traveling with them. Or is he? He gives them the command to proclaim, heal and overcome evil but he also gives them authority. They are to go in his name, spirit, and power. Our mission may seem overwhelming until we remember that with mission comes authority. We are not in this ministry on our own, for every true call to Christian mission comes with authority as we go in the name, spirit, and power of God. (page 1216). 
Prayer: God of mission who sends us and the church into the world to proclaim your good news of redemption and liberation, accompany us all the way, till your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Amen. 

Click HereJourney of Faith: Session 9


This Bible study was also published by United Methodist Publishing house; a print-friendly PDF can be downloaded from their site.

Last Updated: 03/17/2014
 
 

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