Tuesday, April 11, 2017

And Jesus said, "Mary." (John 20:16)

Most of us find certain Scripture passages which speak to us down deep in our souls. The following passage is one that speaks to me deeply.  Mary Magdalene has gone to Jesus' tomb to tend to His body and finds the tomb empty. Crying, she approaches someone whom she believes to be a gardener.

"Woman, why are you weeping?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” Thinking He was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried Him off, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.”  Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Aramaic, Rabboni!" (which means teacher)

Mary was so traumatized by the sad events of Good Friday that she could not see Jesus standing directly in front of her.  For the past three days, she had experienced a world without Jesus in it.  Fear and pain had blinded her to the risen presence of the Lord.

This is the same Mary from whom Jesus cast out 7 demons.  She was known as Mary Magdalene. Despite what we may have been taught, Mary of Magdala was not a prostitute.  

The Hebrew people in 33 AD didn't have a way to describe mental or emotional illness. Perhaps these were 7 actual demons or perhaps Mary had mental health issues which were cured by Jesus. Demons are subject to Jesus and so is mental illness. 

In any case, I believe that she would have been greatly disturbed in spirit because she was standing at the cross as He died, witnessing that cruel and terrible death.

This Gospel passage is not only telling the story of Mary Magdalene, an historical figure of antiquity, encountering the risen Jesus.  The passage is also speaking to all of us in the 21st century who experience fear, stress, horror, isolation, and rejection. 

Israel in 33 AD was a culture with violence all around under foreign occupation.  America in 2017 is a culture with stress and violence all around as well. Mary didn't recognize Jesus because of her pain and stress. I sometimes miss Jesus for the same reason.

Mary had an advantage, though.  Despite the stress, she had followed hard after Jesus for three years. She had reclined at table with Him. She had listened in wonder as he taught in parables or used illustrations from the Old Testament prophets. She sat at His feet. She KNEW Him vs. just knowing his Name.

So it only took that sound of her name, Mary, on His lips to instantly drop the scales from her eyes.

How do we avoid missing Jesus?  Mary's advantage was that she had heard His voice before trouble came.  We can follow her example and also recline at table with Him when we bless our food in His name.  We can listen to His voice when we read His parables and teaching in Scripture. We can sit at His feet in prayer and meditation.

Because I don't want to think it is the landscaping guy when Jesus is standing right in front of me.

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