Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Resurrection Sunday
Mark 16:1-7; John 20:1-2

Mary Magdalene had been given great healing by Jesus and from then on had been a devoted follower of Him. Now as she came to the tomb with the spices to anoint the dead body of Jesus, which would put a close to a very sorry chapter of her life, she discussed with Mary, the mother of James, as to who is going to roll the large stone away from the tomb.
She was fully convinced in her mind that Jesus had died, and that there could be no future without her Master and Teacher, a future as she knew it. To their surprise, when they got to the tomb, the large stone had been rolled away and a young man sat on the right side of the tomb. They both were told that the Jesus of Nazareth whom they are looking for and who was crucified, had risen from the dead and is no longer there. They were told to look for themselves as well as to go tell Jesus' disciples, and Peter, that Jesus is to be found in Galilee, just as He had told them before.

But how did Mary react? She did the first part, meeting Peter and John on the way back, and she gave the message which was still in her mind and heart; the message of disappointment, sorrow and hopelessness. Instead of believing what the young man had told her, she told Peter and John that Jesus had been stolen from the tomb, and that "we" do not know where they have laid him!!

As we read further in John's Gospel, Mary continued to focus on what she believed to be true, inspite of what she had been told by the young man, words that Mary had heard before from Jesus. "There you will see him, just as he told you." Let us read further in John's Gospel:

John 20:11-18
She continued to look down into the tomb, stooping while weeping in grief and sorrow, focusing on what was, what could have been, what should have been, what should be and so forth.

Finally the angels who were present asked her for the reason for her weeping. "She repeated that which she believed to be true, inspite of what had been told her by the young man at the tomb: "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him."

After she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing by her, but did not recognize Him. (One commentator says that the look of reverence on the faces of the angels may have been what caused Mary to turn around to look) Jesus (unknown to Mary) says, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" By her answer she clearly was not looking for a resurrected Jesus, but was yet convinced in her mind that the Jesus she had known was a part of history.

Then the Voice of compassion and forgiveness spoke, which she had first heard earlier in her life, when He had cast out of her seven devils.
(ESV Luke 8:2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,)

She immediately responded to that Voice, and said, Teacher!
She wanted to hug Him, but was not allowed to. Jesus spoke the words that are written in John 20:17: "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

To which Mary responded by going to tell the disciples: "I have seen the Lord"- and that he had said these things to her.

What caused her to go from a mind of doom to a heart of hope and of the future? What caused her to repeat a message of hope this time? For when the young man had told her the truth, she could not believe and acted accordingly? What made the difference?

One of our biggest difficulties in life is disappointment in the circumstances of life and in people, both in ourselves as people and in our circumstanances as well as in disappointment in other people. We have a tough time dealing with circumstances, but for the most part circumstances are created by people, which includes ourselves also. For we fall short of that which we should be, as well as people do not always live up to our expectations. If we lean too heavily on ourselves or others, rather than hope and depend on Christ, most often disappointment and disillusion will follow. Let us consider this thought first in relation to Mary.

Mary had heard the Voice of grace and truth earlier in her life, by which she had been transformed from a life of sin to a life of blessing in the following of the Lord, Whom she referred to as Teacher. It undoubtedly was a close relationship of devotion and commitment. But did she understand the "bigger picture" of Jesus' coming to this world?

She apparently did not, for if she had, she would have remembered that through His death, He had conquered death, hell and the devil, and that it was all in God's plan for her future that Jesus died, would arise and would ascend to heaven.

She would have believed and trusted in the words of Jesus which spoke of death not being able to hold Him, but that He was going to rise again. We all fall victim to this forgetfulness in our dealings with circumstances and people.

What changed Mary? What changes us from disillusionment to an attitude of love, peace and joy, which always give us a hope for the future? What happens to us that we are able to go from a heavy feeling of hopelessness in our current situation to the certainty that He is with us, He knows what is going on, and He has a plan for the future, regardless how bleak it looks?

Jesus began to bring Mary from her place of unbelief by approaching her in her place of grief and disappointment. Did He then brought her back to the time in which she had first heard the Voice of compassion and forgiveness? For it was when she heard the Voice of her Deliverer, her Saviour speak her name, the name of Mary, the scales fell of her heart and then off her eyes of Who this man was. She cried, "Teacher!"

At this point Mary still lived in the limited knowledge of who Jesus was and of His real purpose for coming into our world, for she saw him as an instructor, a model of virtue, example for all, so naturally she wanted to embrace Him in the way that she had been accustomed to. But Jesus responded with these words:

"Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

Here Jesus reveals to Mary that the fellowship and the communion which we today enjoy in the spiritual body of Jesus Christ is far superior to our earthly relationships, as close and as connected as they may be. For He had spoken these words earlier in his ministry:

KJV John 14:16-18 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

KJV John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

As a result of His resurrection and ascension, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, our fellowships are given gifts of grace by which we have fellowship with and serve one another.

Ephesians 4:1-16

He wanted to show her (and us) and reveal to her/us of the far greater purpose that He had come for, that through the descending of the Holy Spirit to this earth, He will come to us! KJV John 14:18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

He comes today to us with His transforming power, His power of forgiveness, His enabling power, His staying power, His power of patience, His power of vision which enables us see the future as bright rather than dismal, His power to trust Him inspite of circumstances and people, and so forth... All from the Holy Spirit, which is not a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of self-control/discipline.

So, as Mary said it, "I have seen the Lord." (Not teacher)And, instead repeating what she had formerly said in unbelief, she went and told the others precisely the words that Jesus had told her. She saw by faith that which Jesus had described in his teachings, that the huge fellowship of believers (the Kingdom of God) which Jesus had come to make possible was going to be a communion of oneness in Spirit, which would not happen unless He triumphed over death and ascended to heaven.

She saw that the relationship which she had formerly had with Jesus was going to be superceded by a greater relationship of love, peace and joy throughout the whole world, which would unite all true believers in Jesus in a common bond of love, commitment and purpose.

She saw that our relationships here on earth are between imperfect people who are sinners, and that through relationship with Jesus do we relate and fellowship with one another. She saw that our joy is full when we forgive one another even as we have been forgiven.

She saw the power of a Christ filled life in the midst of disappointments in people and in circumstances. She saw that through the remembering of His Word, the believing of His Word, and the trusting in the promises and instructions of our Lord, His purpose for our lives and His plans for our lives will go forward. .

Be assured, His plan is for blessing, for good in the future, for hope, and this comes as we hear Him through His Word and Spirit,

Remember His kind Voice today, the Voice of compassion and forgiveness which we have heard in the past, and which is coming to us today through His Spirit.

For it is a Voice of acceptance by and in Him through His great love, it is a Voice of understanding of your circumstances today, it is a Voice that gives joy and peace on this day of Resurrection, and it is a Voice that when it is heard and seen gives hope for the future.

Lord, may we hear your Voice today, May we see you even as Mary saw you!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 12 Apr 2009 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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The Temptation of Jesus
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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