Mary, Quite Contrary (Times Three)

Friday, March 5, 2021

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene (John 19:25 KJV).

Can you see here the three women named “Mary,” whose nature is best described as being “contrary?”

Jesus’ mother is called Mary (Matthew 1:18; Matthew 2:11; Matthew 13:55; Luke 2:34; Acts 1:18). Today’s Scripture places her, and two ladies who share her name, near Jesus’ cross. These women are hinted at in Matthew 27:55,56; Mark 15:40; and Luke 23:49. In Greek, it is “Maria/Mariam;” the Hebrew is “Miriam.” It was also the name of Moses’ sister (Numbers 26:59). The root of “Miryam” is “meriy,” rendered “rebels” in Numbers 17:10. Look at some other occurrences.

Moses’ parting words to Israel: “For I know thy rebellion [meriy], and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?” (Deuteronomy 31:27). Speaking of their sins in the wilderness, “But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments, And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion [meriy] appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not” (Nehemiah 9:17). “Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: That this is a rebellious [meriy] people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD” (Isaiah 30:8,9).

On a dozen occasions in Ezekiel, the LORD calls Israel “rebellious,” or a “rebellious house” (2:5,6,8; 3:9,26,37; 12:2,3,9,25; 17:12; 24:3; 44:6). Again, this is “meriy,” the root of “Miriam.” It is contumacy, obstinate and willful sedition or resistance to authority. With three Marys at Christ’s cross, the Holy Spirit stresses Christ died not simply for, but among, sinners! “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).