If you've been in church very long, you've heard sermons on 5 special women: the woman caught in adultery, a woman with a past, the woman at the well, the woman with the bleeding issue, and Mary the sister of Lazarus. Over the years I've heard several such sermons, and even preached a few of them. But they were never anything like this.
In "The Day I Met Jesus: The Revealing Diaries of Five Women from the Gospels" ( Baker Books, 2015) Frank Viola and Mary DeMuth have taken the stories of these 5 women and personalized them in such a way that they truly come alive for us. Each chapter is broken into several sections. First is the 'diary': a fleshing out of the story, full of details about the culture of the time and some extra-biblical facts woven into a compelling narrative that grips the reader's attention. The diary is followed by the 'Sacred Text" the actual Biblical account from one or more of the Gospels; that is followed by "walking it out" - the exegesis and application to our times and our lives.
The discussion questions at the end of the book make this an ideal resource for a small group or a bible study.
And there is a common theme: We love, because he first loved us. Jesus loved these women for who they were and the called them to be transformed; even though from a cultural standpoint he had no business even talking to them. An adulterous woman, a woman with a 'past', a Samaritan woman, a woman who was ceremonially unclean, and yes, even Mary the sister of Lazarus had a bit of a history, and she bares her doubts about the Messiah.
Jesus loved the unlovable of his day, and he continues to love the unlovable (us) today. I think it's pretty near impossible to read this book with an open mind and not finish it full of hope.
I received a copy of this book from Baker Books in exchange for the review.