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Podcast 2.01 Which Bible Character Are You Most Like?

Welcome back for Season Two of the Encounter Jesus podcast! You can catch up on Season One here. Or go ahead and jump in right here, this season will make sense by itself.

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Episode 2.01
Which Bible character are you most like?

(Musical intro)

Intro: Welcome to the Encounter Jesus podcast, also known as the ‘feel like Jesus is hugging you today’ podcast. I’m Elizabeth Ellynshaw, and today we will be talking about asking the Lord to show us if there is a Bible character or Bible story that He had in mind when He created us. We’ll ask Him if there’s a Bible story that He especially wants to speak to us through as He is writing the story of our lives.

I see this happening over and over within the Bible, where God will write a sort of remix of one person’s story in a later person’s story. For example, Daniel in Babylon lived over a thousand years after Joseph in Egypt, and yet the resemblance between their stories is astonishing. They’re both innocent kids who love God and who are kidnapped into captivity in the biggest and baddest world power of their day. They both rely on God and stand up to do what is right in God’s eyes. They both take risks to fear God not people. They both interpret dreams for the king. They both get exalted to the highest position of power in the land. Joseph obviously didn’t know about Daniel, but Daniel knew all about the story of Joseph, and I can only imagine how many times he meditated on the life of Joseph and related to God in the light of it, how many times he praised God for being the same in his life and in his day as He was to Joseph, how many times he asked God to do it again. I can only imagine how he probably appealed to God that night when his options were, ‘either you will hear the king’s dream and it’s interpretation correctly from your God tonight or you and all your friends will die,’ Daniel might have prayed that night “God, what You did for Joseph, do it for me! As You gave Joseph the interpretation of the king’s dream to get him out of prison at last, so give me both the king’s dream and it’s interpretation so I can live and serve You!” And God did it! I can only imagine how often Daniel noticed and marveled, ‘for some reason, God is writing a remix of the story of Joseph in my life.’

Now when John the Baptist was born, God explicitly said that He was going to do this. God had given a prophetic word through the prophet Malachi in the very last verses in our Old Testament that He would somehow send the prophet Elijah again before the great and terrible day of the Lord. God will somehow send Elijah again. That’s the last promise the Old Testament ends with. And then at the very beginning of the story in the New Testament, God picks ups where He left off with that promise. God sends the angel Gabriel to Zecheriah and he says “your son John will prepare the people for the Lord ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah.’ So all of John’s life he knew that he was called to be like Elijah and that God was giving him the spirit and power of Elijah to do it, whatever that means.

On the other hand, John’s father, Zecheriah, totally missed the way in which God was writing a story in his own life like that of a Bible character. Zecheriah and his wife Elizabeth were a godly couple who had prayed and waited their whole lives to have children and yet gotten elderly instead, just like Abraham and Sarah. But when God’s angel came and told Zecheriah ‘you and your wife Elizabeth will have a son,’ Zecheriah didn’t believe him because they were too old. Gabriel had zero tolerance for this unbelief and he zapped Zecheriah mute until the baby was born, because after all Zecheriah should have known better. He should have known from the story of Abraham and Sarah that God can do that kind of miracle, and had the courage to believe it when God said ‘I’m going to do that for you,’ too.

So what about you? Is there a Bible story that your life story seems to rhyme with? Is there a Bible character who reminds you more of yourself than any other? Is there a character or story in the Bible that God speaks to you through over and over again? Today I want to share with you about mine and hopefully inspire you to ask Him what kind of story He wants to write in your life as well.

(Musical transition)

Prayer: God of endless creativity, we worship You for the beautiful stories You write in our lives. The way You write poetry and purpose, the way You write mystery and meaning, and the way You make it all rhyme with Jesus. I pray for the person listening right now that You will give them a breathtaking glimpse of Your perspective on the kind of story You are writing in their life today. And I pray for each one of us that if there is a Bible character that You are thinking of as You write our story, or a Bible story that You want to use to speak to us today, would You please show that to each one of us? In Jesus’ name, amen.

(Musical transition)

Content:  The Bible character whose story the Lord has used in my life over and over again is, like many women in the Bible, named Mary. But she isn’t Mary the mother of Jesus, or Mary Magdalene, but rather Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and of Lazarus. I love the story of this Mary because she appears in the Bible three times in three stories, and in each of those three stories, she’s found in the exact same place: at the feet of Jesus. The reasons and situations are different but her place is always the same. The first time, she’s found sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to His teaching. The second time, she’s falling at Jesus’ feet, weeping because her brother just died. The third time, she’s kneeling at Jesus’ feet, breaking her jar of perfume over His feet and wiping them with her hair, to thank Him for raising her brother from the dead and to anoint Him for His own burial. She goes from listening to Jesus to weeping with Jesus to worshiping Jesus but she’s always in the same place, at His feet.

And when Mary is found in her consistent place at the feet of Jesus, stuff happens. There’s always a reaction, whether her sister explodes in frustration or Jesus Himself bursts into tears with her or the disciples condemn her and Jesus defends her. And in the end, her story mirrors His story. Because Jesus’ story moves through three acts, from life to death to resurrection, and so do the three scenes of her story.

I identify with Mary in so many ways: In being so emotional, in being so attached to Jesus, in expressing her love through tears and physical touch. Jesus saved a lot of people in the gospels from horrible situations like leprosy or prostitution or seven demons, but I relate to this Mary in that she seemed like a normal person from a loving and believing family, but she still adored Him. I identify with Mary of Bethany in daring to listen to Jesus when other people didn’t want her to, and in daring to do something women weren’t supposed to do and sit with the male disciples, not because she was the rebellious type but because Jesus was worth it. I identify with her in seasons of confusion and anger, when Jesus seemed to disappoint her so badly, and then in the restoration beyond her wildest dreams. I identify with her in pouring out a jar that might well have been her dowry, risking never getting married for the sake of loving Jesus. I identify with her in driving her poor sister crazy with her personality and priorities.

And then there are the ways I want to identify with her, the ways I’ve learned from her courage. Her courage to stay at Jesus’ feet and not go back into the kitchen to please Martha, when Martha was angry but Jesus was pleased. Her courage to stay down there at Jesus’ feet and not defend herself, whether it was Martha or Judas who was criticizing her choices, but to just wait and let Jesus defend her. And ultimately the way she came out of her own story of death and resurrection deeply understanding Jesus and what He was up to, and instead of resisting His journey to the cross like Peter did, she anointed it with her worship, so that He probably went to the cross still smelling like that crazy outpouring of perfume she gave Him the week before He died. And out of all the women who tried to anoint Jesus for burial, the only one who actually got to was this one, who He said had had the insight to do it before He died.

Like Mary, I wanted the stories Jesus writes in my life to be stories of life, life, and more life, not life, death and resurrection. But when He does write stories of death and resurrection in my life, as He loves to do in all of our lives, nothing has comforted me more than coming back to the way her story intertwined with His story and meeting Him there.

In fact, over and over again in my life, in situation after situation and in season after season, the Lord has brought me back to the story of this Mary at His feet and spoken to me through it again. So welcome to season two of this podcast. In season two, I want to share with you some of the ways God has spoken to me through the story of Mary of Bethany at the feet of Jesus. I hope He will breathe on her story and on mine for you—and also that it will invite you into conversations with Jesus about your own story.

(Musical transition)

Question: Today I invite you to snuggle up to Jesus in your heart and ask Him, ‘Lord, is there a Bible character that I remind You of today? And if so, what do You want to say to me about what I can learn from their story about my story?’

(Musical Outro)


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