Thursday, January 24, 2013

Forgettable Characters

Today's scripture readings are Gen 35-37; Mark 14; Psalm 12. 

Though many things could be discussed in these passages I want to zero in on some forgettable characters.  The Bible is full of folks who have no name, or whose mention in the Bible is obscure and fleeting.  In the Gospel passage, we encounter one such forgettable character.

And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Her name is never mentioned.  Some suggest that this may have been Mary Magdalene, but ultimately Mark wants us to leave her anonymous.  Yet, because of her extravagant love and worship, Jesus says that wherever the gospel is proclaimed, she will be remembered.

Later, when Jesus is arrested and the disciples flee, we have another forgettable character.  My guess is that as many times as you've read the story of Jesus' arrest, you have probably never noticed this guy.

51 And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

What a strange micro-story, embedded in the larger narrative of Jesus' arrest.  Who was he?  Many Bible scholars suggest that this could have been the gospel writer Mark, writing himself into the story but reluctant to make the story about himself.  It was really about Jesus, after all.  But in the end, we'll never know--until we get to Heaven and ask Mark who that fellow was.

The point I want to make is this--the Bible is full of people whose names are never mentioned, and yet they become part of the story of what God is doing among His people.  Maybe you're one of those people yourself--sort of in the background, never standing out, never having your name mentioned.  Yet you are just as important to God as the heroes that get all the attention.  Maybe your name won't be mentioned in the annals of history.  Maybe you see yourself as one of the forgettable characters.  But God knows your name.  He knows your story.  And sometimes the things done by anonymous people are the very things that touch the heart of God the most. 


Tena said...

What is the title of the painting of the woman kissing the feet of Jesus and who painted it?

Greg said...

Peter Paul Rubens, "Feast in the House of Simon the Pharisee"