Easter is almost upon us, friends! This most precious time of year in the Christian calendar when we gather to remember the death and resurrection of our Jesus… perhaps as part of a huge congregation or maybe more privately in our own way. But while we celebrate the sacrifice and marvel at the miracle for all mankind on a macro level, we also need to take time to hold it all very close and remember why Easter is personal…
Picture a garden. A cave. A large stone. And a woman crying—weeping uncontrollably, actually—for she had lost someone very special. Someone extraordinary.
Mary Magdalene had encountered Jesus many moons prior, back when He delivered her from demons—that’s something you don’t forget in a hurry— and she promptly became one of His devoted followers. She had been there at the cross where He was murdered, and now her heart was breaking at the empty cave. Jesus’ body had been taken, and it was the last straw for her fragile nerves.
She was so caught up in her grief, her eyes so blurred by tears, her heart so crushed, that she failed to recognize Jesus outside the tomb.
She thought he was the gardener.
Her Savior was gone and she was devastated…. until Jesus made Himself known to her.
“Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’” John 20:16a
He called her by name.
In John chapter 10, Jesus talks of Himself as being the Good Shepherd, One who would lay down His life for His sheep. We are those sheep. Granted, not the smartest of creatures; they tend to wander off and get lost and are in need of constant guidance. But they are also highly treasured by their shepherd. Loved. Protected. Cherished.
At His resurrection, Jesus could have appeared to whomever He wanted—crowds, leaders, kings… but He chose to appear to one of His sheep first. It was personal and so typically Jesus in its beautiful simplicity.
And Mary’s joy was complete! Can you imagine? As soon as Jesus spoke her name, she was safe again. Her Good Shepherd hadn’t deserted her in any way—He was fully there, calling her, and she no longer grieved. She may not have fully comprehended the theological ramifications of the resurrection, but Her Lord was alive and that was enough.
This regular woman with a tainted past was given the honor of being the very first person to herald the resurrection of Jesus Christ to the world. We have also been given that same message to proclaim to the world today. To our sphere of influence. To our people.
It’s timeless and true. A message of redemption and restoration.
“A rule I have had for years is: to treat the Lord Jesus Christ as a personal friend. His is not a creed, a mere doctrine, but it is He Himself we have.” D.L.Moody
As we prepare our hearts for Easter, remember how personal it is. Jesus died for us as individuals and conquered death so that each of us might have life eternal. He did it for YOU. And He calls us by name, just as He called Mary.
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God.” Isaiah 43:1b-3a (MSG)
He’s our personal God, this Almighty Creator. Let that sink in for a moment. I pray that we won’t be too busy or distracted wandering in other pastures to hear the call of our Good Shepherd this Easter…
Blessings & Joy,
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