Sunday, March 27, 2016

Joy resurrected!

“When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.” Mark 16:9 NIV

Jesus said to her, “Mary.” John 20:6 NIV

For Mary Magdalene, the elation of Palm Sunday must have turned to shock and dismay as Jesus was arrested and condemned.  First the trial, then the terrible walk to the crucifixion, and finally the horror of watching one she loved die an agonizing death. For Mary, this was the end of a dream. 

Mary had been a prostitute, a woman utterly despised in her culture. Even the men who used her would have spit on her had she dared to approach them in public. We do not know how she came to live the life she did, but we do know that Jesus changed her life. He drove seven demons out of her and set her on a path going in a new direction. He gave her hope of a life without shame.

Jesus had become Mary’s rabbi, teaching her about God’s forgiveness and showing her the love she needed. At the foot of the cross, she must have thought that her former profession was now all that remained for her.  His death was also the death of her new life.

On Sunday, when Mary took spices to anoint the body of Jesus, she found the tomb empty Her last, loving tribute to Jesus was made impossible by the absence of His body. Weeping in despair, Mary answered the question, “why are you crying?” with a desolate “They have taken my Lord away and I do not know where they have put him.”   

Then Jesus spoke to her. All He said was, “Mary.” Just her name, that’s all. But it spoke volumes to Mary’s grief-stricken heart. Sorrow washed away as hope and joy came flooding back. All doubts about her future were permanently erased in one blindingly glorious flash of revelation. In an instant she recognized the face she knew and loved, now revealed as the face of her God. She knew with utmost assurance that all she had once dared believe was true. He calls you by name as well. This Easter, may God grant you such a “Mary” moment, when you recognize the face of God and your heart is pierced with fierce joy.

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