Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sluts, Schemers, And Other Shockingly Interesting Women Of The Bible #8 – Mary, Jesus’ Mom.

You guys, I'm still having internet issues. Working off two to no bars. THIS SUCKS! This is what happens when something goes wrong at your Shabby Shack at the same time that there's a death in your landlord's family. Nothing can be simple.

Sigh. Onward we go, still no pictures.

Disclaimer: I am doing this as a way to share what I learn about these gals. I’m not saying what I discover and write about here is the absolute truth about them. I’m not thinking I’m going to discover some revolutionary truth that nobody’s heard before, nor am I looking to start legalistic fights. This is more about me being curious and wanting to learn more about these gals, and saying “Here’s what I learned in my Bible readings today!”

Which One Is She?

Oh, please. Everyone, Christian or not, knows who the Virgin Mary is. The Virgin Mary, Mary of Nazareth, Jesus’ Mommy.

And with Stella, My Biblically Super Smart And All Around Awesome Person’s encouragement, I have put Virgin Mary in the Schemer category.


Yes, Mary’s days before Jesus is born are filled with obedience, and hiya Gabriel, I’m pregnant with God’s son? Well, “I am the Lord’s servant, my it be to me as you have said.” (Matthew Ch: 1:38) Toodleloo, I’m off to hide out at my cousin Elizabeth’s house, and she just so happens to be married to Zechariah, a high priest of the temple, but he currently can’t talk to rat me out (and besides, I’m family), so I’ll hang out and be obedient and head to Bethlehem and pick up the rest of the story there with the donkey, manger, swaddling clothes, wise men, la la laaaaaaaaaa.

But after that, the few times that Mary is mentioned, it COULD be viewed through a Schemer lens.

Hell, if there’s such debate (and boy howdy, is there) about whether Mary remained a virgin her entire life, or only until Jesus was born, and whether she was exempt from the whole “original sin” thing, or how she died (normally, or taken up body and soul by Jesus?), then I think it’s okay to look at Mary’s few mentions in the Gospels through a Schemer lens. Because then things get interesting…

Who Could Be Her Celebrity Counterpart?

Today I am saying it’s Sarah Michelle Geller, Ms. Buffy, Ms. Ringer. She grew up in the industry, getting her first modeling roles at the age of 4, and being an actress/model ever since without plunging into wretched starlet excess. Because by all accounts, she’s squarely a solid businesswoman who plans her next career move meticulously, aka a Schemer, in the very best sense of the word.

Where Is She In The Bible?

She’s mentioned in all four Gospels, and a tiny bit in Acts. And she MIGHT be mentioned in Revelation, as we briefly touched upon last week, she seems to be represented as “the women clothed with the sun…” in Revelation 12.

What Did You Already Know About Her Before This?

I knew what most everyone knows. I did a series of monologues about the Christmas story in 2006, and specifically had written a monologue from Gabriel’s perspective in 2006, as he comes down to give Mary the news about being pregnant with Jesus. So I’ve examined her from the pious “I am the Lord’s servant, my it be to me as you have said” angle. Yawn. Let’s get to the Scheming!

What Verses Do You Want To Focus On?

So Mary gives birth to Jesus, and he’s a little stinker running around and staying behind at the temple while Mary and Joseph do the classic “I Thought He Was With YOU!” routine. (Luke 2:41-52) and God knows what else he did as a kid and a teen (though Anne Rice has taken a fictitious stab at what that was)

But let’s look at two other instances:

The first recorded miracle (if you’re going chronologically) of Jesus was the wedding at Cana. (John 2:1-12) The whole turning water into wine thing. Giving credence to million of alcoholics everywhere, YAY!

At this point in history, Jesus has not announced his ministry, hasn’t announced he’s the Son of God, nothing. John the Baptist has been shouting about it, there’s a voice in the Heavens that essentially says That’s my BOY! but Jesus hasn’t said boo.

Which is why, when Mary asks him to take care of the Bar Gone Dry at the wedding, Jesus tells her, “Dear woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come.” (John 2:4)

If we look at Mary through the Schemer lens, we can think this:

1. Mary knows that Jesus is the son of God, thank you Gabriel, Elizabeth, wise men, Anna and Simeon at the temple, la la la.
2. Mary knows that Jesus is precocious, thanks to his stunt at the temple.
3. She must have reason to believe that Jesus COULD turn water into wine, or else she wouldn’t have asked him to. I like to imagine that maybe she caught Jesus drinking underage, and when he sent him to his room with only a water bottle, she shows up later to find him completely hammered, laughing, and really needing a bathroom. I KNOW THIS ISN’T TRUE. But it’s fun to think about.

So if we know all of this, why does Mary ask Jesus to bust out his bartending skills? I think Mary’s Scheming in the very best possible way. She’s giving her firstborn son the nudge he needs to announce his Awesomeness, aka his ministry. She might also want him out of the house, ho ho ho.

Jesus knows she’s gonna ask, because the son of God usually knows everything, and he
finally does what Mary wants, and turns six stone jars of water into the best possible wine ever. Behold, Jesus’ Ministry O’ Miracles and Baptizing Folks and Preaching Good News begins!

Next mention of Mary in the Gospels comes later. (Matthew 13: 1-15/ Mark 3:20-21; 31-34 / Luke 8:19-21)

I’m using the verses in Mark, not just because they coincidentally were the ones the sermon was about at my church this past Sunday, but because for once, for once, Mark is the one that gives the most interesting details about this story.

The reason why that’s hysterical is because Mark is generally known as the briefer than brief Gospel. It was written first, and kinda of a general summation of Jesus’ life. Mark’s the highlight reel after the Superbowl/Grammys/Oscars are over. You can usually get more detail about Jesus’ life in Matthew, Luke, or John. Mark is kinda like the Twitter of the Gospels – short, sweet, and under 140 character per mention. HA!

But here’s the exception that proves the rule, as Mark gives much more context. Basically, Jesus is raising a ruckus by being awesome and performing miracles and arguing about Fasting and Rules Of The Sabbath with the Pharisees, and drawing crowds everywhere he goes. Mary knows that if Jesus doesn’t watch it, he’ll get arrested. So she and the family “went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’” (Mark 3:21). Mary’s Scheming here, because she knows if she floats the theory that Jesus is insane, he can’t be held responsible for his actions if he’s arrested. She might also think he’s legitimately out of his mind, but the Insanity Defense is probably the better cover story until she can get a hold of her son and suss out what’s what.

But Jesus then says, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35) to expand the definition of family, and Mary’s probably grumbling going Great! They can ALL go look for you at the temple. Or something like that.

But! It should be noted that Mary is there at Jesus’ crucifixion. She (and other women) stood by her son, even when the majority of the disciples had abandoned Jesus. As a mother would. Which goes to show that being a Schemer does not inherently make you a bad person. It makes you a very passionate person. And in this case, a singular woman bearing the pain and joy of the Savior of the World on her soul.

What did you learn?

You know, I was really at a loss in trying to find a lady in the New Testament who could be classified as a Schemer. There’s a smattering of Sluts, and an endless supply of Shockingly Interesting Women, but I was digging REALLY hard to find a Schemer. Whereas they are all over the place in the Old Testament.

And if you think about it, it sorta makes sense. Most of the ladies in the OT are very concerned with whether they’re married, or have kids, and if they aren’t, they’ll Scheme to get that way.

In the semi-more enlightened New Testament (now is not the time to get into Paul’s wackadoo attitude toward women) the women have a little bit more freedom, and more independence and can do things with their own money like fund Jesus’ ministry or host churches in their living rooms, and those OT things aren’t as important. So the ladies of the NT don’t necessarily have time to Scheme about getting pregnant or married, they’ve already done that, and are trying to spend their money wisely.

It’s an evolution that spans the entire Bible – From Schemer to Shockingly Interesting Woman.

Sluts will already be around. I guess. HA!

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