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In search of the Apostles, Where did they go?
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A strange hub
Sat here this Sunday morning I was thinking about what kind of Hub I want to write this week and I had a strange kind of feeling that I need to return to some of the kind of hubs that I used to write a few months ago, kind of strange really as the last couple of days that feeling has been building, but I don't want to return to the stories and styles that argue for their reality, rather to take a look at the story and take some inspiration from them.
I've always been fascinated by the early Christians and the kind of things they had to deal with, but for me, the one thing I've been really curious about is what happened to the disciples of Jesus after he went into heaven? Where did they all end up?
Granted, we do know some of the stories from the book of Acts of the Apostles, but we don't know all of them, in fact the Book of Acts only really concentrates on the original followers of Jesus up until the council of Jerusalem but then it concentrates on the ministry of Paul as it tells us how the gospel came to the center of the Empire!
So what happened to them?
Who exactly are we talking about?
That's a question we probably need to look at first! Who exactly are we talking about?
Back in the days of the New Testament you get the impression that the Empire was a very male dominated society and that the Bible was a very male dominated book, on the surface it is. but we're not just looking at the men that the Bible talks about, we'll be looking at some of the women as well and the impact they had on the writing of the Bible.
One that comes straight to mind is Mary the Mother of Jesus. Actually she's a pretty important source of some of stories of the early part of Jesus' life, but who was she? and more importantly what happened to her after?
Take a look at Luke Chapter 2 verse 51
51 Then He went down to Nazareth with them and was subject to them. But His mother treasured up all these things in her heart
Question here, who's the one telling the story?
I know some of you are going to say "Oh it's a later invention of some nameless scribe" and I can't argue with that. It might well be, I don't think so and I've got another more plausible explanation. Maybe it's an old woman well into her 90s sat in the home of her 'adopted' son who's also a believer and overseer of the church in Ephesus! (we'll talk about that 'son' some other time).
The main places in Mary's story
Mary's story starts here. Later, as a family they'll come back to here.
Joseph, Mary and Jesus flee Herod to here.
Mary and John moved to here later in life where John was 'Bishop' of the group of believers.
Ask yourself. How many disciples actually watched the crucifixion?
Mary was a witness at quite a few of the events that the gospels tell us about, she was there (naturally) at the birth, she was there when the wise men showed up. When Jesus was twelve and left behind talking to the scribes in the Temple, it's Mary and Joseph that run back frantically searching for him!
She's one who knows the truth of what really went on at the time, and she's one who made sure that her side of the story, or at least as much of the story that she knew was passed down to us so that we can know what really went on.
A very different, yet possible picture of Mary
This video above is a very disturbing picture of what life was like in the days of the Roman Empire, and while it doesn't totally accept the idea that Jesus was conceived the way the Bible states, it really shows the kind of world Mary and Joseph grew up in.
As I said i didn't totally accept everything the video said was possible, but it gave me a deeper appreciation of the horrors that Mary and Joseph faced and the way they made sure that their story was told for future generations.
Some of the things Mary mad sure we knew about!
- The Visit of the Angel. Luke 1 verse 26-38
- The Birth of Jesus. Matthew 1 verse 18-25
- The visit of the wise men (Magi) Matthew 2
- The flight to Egypt. Matthew 3
- The story of the boy Jesus at the Temple. Luke 2
- The first Miracle (turning water into wine)
- The fact most Jesus' brothers and sisters didn't believe in him
- Jesus last words at the Cross (only she and John were there!)
Think about it, that's a pretty impressive body of work for one 'illiterate' woman who was regarded as being a 'second class citizen' as most women were at that time. Yet she's the main source for these stories.
Here's a direct quote I found from a website that shows just what she was like, and I think it's 'right on the nail'
The Mary of the Gospels is a woman marked by chutzpah, not reserved piety. She is hardly the pious, poker-faced Mary of too much of Western Christian art. Her song — The Magnificat — is a beautiful mosaic of dozens of Old Testament expressions designed to announce that God has acted to bring Israel its Messiah. She pressed Jesus to provide wine when the wine ran low at a wedding. She — not Joseph — was the one who approached Jesus when he was left behind at the temple, and she was the one who seemed to reprimand him. Mary and her children seemingly took charge of the situation and went from Nazareth to Capernaum because of what was being reported about Jesus — and that scene appears to be one where Mary wants to protect Jesus from getting himself in trouble with the leaders.
If you want to read the full article
- 10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew about Mary, Mother of Jesus - OnFaith
A New Testament scholar explains how we should think about the mother of Jesus.
What happened after?
That's what the story's about right? What did happen to her after? Well apparently there's a difference of thought as to whether she had more children. The Eastern Church says no she didn't and that the 'brothers and sisters' of Jesus would have been older kids through Joseph.
Remember that the Bible tells us of at least three brothers of Jesus and some sisters, the early church says there were at least four other brothers and two sisters that we know of! So she may have had other kids.
The Catholic church says that they're actually Jesus' cousins but were regarded as being 'like brothers and sisters' where the Protestant churches regard them as being later kids of Mary and Joseph.
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Big deal, so what?
I can hear the questions being asked, "What's this got to do with the price of fish?"
Well it kind of explains why Jesus can get away with the stunt he pulls on the cross where he gives the care of his mother away to a seeming family stranger!
If Jesus' 'brothers and sisters' weren't actually 'family' then as the firstborn he had a moral duty to make sure that his surviving family were looked after, and considering they didn't even believe him (that was about to change) and even his Mum was having a hard time with the latest things he had a duty to make sure she wasn't going to 'come to grief' and what better way than to entrust her to the one person who'd showed true even in the crucifixion, the only one of his followers who was actually there for both him and her!
Later on we read that as the church was growing in Turkey, the Apostles decided that it was time that some of the bigger places that were getting a christian witness had someone who'd actually been there, one who'd walked and talked with Jesus, one who could tell many of the stories from memory, who'd been there when he fed 5,000. Who'd been there when Lazarus was raised from the dead and many of the other stories had happened.
It just so happened that the Apostle chosen for the assignment was the same one who'd also been given the task of looking after the earthly mother of Jesus, and she although she was probably into her seventies at the time was very much alive.
Her last years
I tried to look up traditions on her last years to see if there was some evidence and which way it pointed. Apparently all of the ancient churches believe that she was literally 'taken up into heaven' in bodily form, but that belief kind of comes from much later, around the seventh or eighth centuries.
The earliest records we have are from the mid second century writings of Irenaeus that simply tell us that John went to Ephesus.
There's no real way of knowing what happened to her, but the stories she left us and made sure were written down for us have changed the course of our history and that should never be forgotten.
That's all for now folks
To be honest I'm not 100% sure why I wrote this hub! I mean the desire to write it came on pretty strong, and it's only just now, as I'm finishing up letting go of me.
Maybe it's that someone needed to read something about the life of this amazing and truly Blessed woman. One who dealt with the kind of situations that most of us would deal with by running for all we're worth away from. One who despite all the hassles, the lack of education, the prejudice, the hatred (that's still poured out) and all that's bad in the world is still a shining example of how a frail Human being can still be the 'God Bearer' that she was.
After all, if ever there was a time that the world needed it, it's today.
Bye for now
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