May 16, 2014
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“For I know that my Redeemer liveth.”
“How wondrously beautiful it is, that in each opening spring, when all things are waking into new life, we take into our hearts afresh the blessed fact of our Lord’s resurrection! Death is stripped of its terrors; the grave is illuminated with light. Because He lives we shall live also.”
Mrs. Charles Cowman
Words of Comfort and Cheer
Today’s Study Text:
“Now on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been removed from, lifted out of the groove across the entrance of the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciples (John), whom Jesus tenderly loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him!’ Upon this, Peter and the other disciple (John) came out and they went toward the tomb. And they came running together, but (John) out ran Peter and arrived at the tomb first. And stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not enter. Then Simon Peter came up following (John) and went into the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there. But the burial napkin which had around Jesus’ head was not lying with the other linen cloths, but was still rolled up, wrapped round and round, in a place by itself. Then the other disciple (John), who had reached the tomb first, went in too, and he saw and was convinced and believed. For as yet they did not know, understand, the statement of Scripture that Jesus must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went back again to their homes, lodging places. But Mary remained standing outside the tomb sobbing.”
John 20: 1-11
“He is Risen” Part 2
“Alone in the Dark Sobbing”
“The intensity of grief is directly related to the intensity of love.”
Confessions of a Grieving Christian
What have I learned about Jesus’ love for me during the times of grief and sorrow in my own life?
If I had been Mary Magdalene at Jesus’ empty tomb, how do I think I would have reacted?
“Tears are liquid love.”
Acquainted With Grief
“Tearless hearts can never be the heralds of the Passion.”
J. H. Jowett
When I went to look at the Transformation Garden emails this morning, I had a note from one of God’s precious girls, Ramona, who penned these powerfully encouraging words which I asked if I might share with all of you. Responding to my request to continue our study on the Resurrection of Jesus, Ramona shared this thought: “We should live each day celebrating Jesus’ birth, life, death and Resurrection. Otherwise, how do we honor Him?” I loved her words, for this is exactly what we are going to do over the next few weeks. We are going to honor the life of our Resurrected Savior.
There’s no better place to begin than in the book written by the “disciple that Jesus loved,” the Apostle John. As our study text reveals, early on Sunday morning, when it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb to be close to the person who had been so instrumental in transforming her life. I think it is important for us to take a look at Mary’s history so that we can more effectively put ourselves in her place on that dark day when she faced an empty tomb and spoke the words, “I don’t know where they have taken my Lord.”
“My Lord” referred to the Man who Mark tells us, “Had driven out seven demons from Mary Magdalene” (Mark 18: 9, Amplified Bible). This was not a small problem…a transitory event. This appears to be a reoccurring problem. And if you had been in Mary’s place, you might have felt as if you had just lost your lifeline. I know I would have felt adrift. Wouldn’t you?
I didn’t really understand the concept of depending on a “healer” until Jim and I were released from the Rehabilitation Hospital where we had stayed for a lengthy part of our four-month hospitalization. When we were being discharged, the Medical Director of the hospital came to us and she said, “While I don’t usually have any private patients, I am so concerned about what has happened to the two of you that if you would like, I’ll continue to see you as outpatients.” I can’t tell what her phenomenal care meant to Jim and me. And then, one day about four years later, she told us she had a fantastic job offer to head up the Rehabilitation Department of a nationally respected hospital. I completely understood that this once-in-a-lifetime offer was something her skills would fit with perfectly, but is also meant Jim and I needed to find a new medical specialist. It was a jarring experience, to say the least. But it has helped me think about how Mary must have felt when Jesus died. The tragedy of losing the “One” who had healed you would be devastating enough, but Mary’s own words tell us what was going through her head, for the empty tomb could only mean that thieves had stolen Jesus’ body.
You see, when you and I read the story of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, we have the benefit of knowing how the story ends. We know not only the harsh reality of the cross but the joyful truth of a resurrected Lord. However, Mary didn’t have the “Good News” part of the story when in the dark she made her way to the tomb.
The famed English author Charles Dickens observed that, ”Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts.” As I read the phrase “blinding dust of earth,” my thoughts turned to the summer monsoons we have in the desert. Because of years of stripping the desert for expansive building projects, there seem to be more regions in Arizona where the strong winds develop into swirling forces, dust clouds called “Haboobs,” that can completely blot out the sunlight when they make their way across the desert, even covering a large city like Phoenix. Having been in the middle of a number of these frightening events, it never ceases to amaze me that once a downpour of rain settles over the dusty areas, a clearness comes which completely transforms the visibility in the desert. Dickens caught this amazing scenario in words when he described the soul-cleansing power of tears. As an old Jewish proverb states, “what soap is to the body, tears are for the soul.” And to any of you, female or male, who in your life have been made to feel that tears are a sign of weakness, just come for a moment to an empty grave outside Jerusalem and stand by the side of a girl whose life was transformed by Jesus. Listen to her sobs. Feel her immense love for Jesus. And you, too, will with the pastor and author Samuel Rutherford say, “Tears have a tongue, and grammar, and language, that our Father knoweth.” Yes, our Father knows the language of tears. And on that Sunday morning long ago, heaven responded to Mary’s tears in ways she could never have imagined. God knew how much Mary ached…and so He came in Person to the side of His child…and He’ll do the same for you, too!
“Awake and praise, O dwellers in the dust!
The dew of this new everlasting spring
Is singing on the garden hill, the trust of death
is broken; now will seas disclose
their dead, earth’s slain will rise again.
For He who has not known corruption is not here-
He goes before to Galilee.
Awake, and see the sepulcher unsealed,
the stone rolled back,
The winding sheets still reeled, the
angels limned in light…
O Magdalene, who knew not where they laid
Your Lord, discard your spices, gather bay,
The victim has become the Victor!
He, the Way, the Truth, the Life, is risen!
The Shepherd glorified has shown His sheep to fold.”
John Gilland Brunini
“Above all pray for the gift of tears.”
“Her name, like pensive star serene,
Shines radiant in the gospel sky:
It still survives, it cannot die –
Thrice-honoured Mary Magdalene.
Once on her early life there fell
The shadow of a dread disease,
No mortal power could soothe, to ease
Or save her from its demon – spell
At last drew near the Prince of Life,
He listened to her anxious guest;
He rocked the fiendish waves to rest,
Changed into peace infernal strife.
Henceforth, for all her future years,
She gave to Him the soul restored,
Owned Him her heavenly Lord adored,
And served with duteous love and tears.
When the impending crisis came,
The hour and power of darkness deep,
She did her holiest vigils keep;
Devotion lit its brightest flame.
The cross she trembling lingers nigh
Watches His eyelids closing dim,
And gilds the black horizon – rim
Of superhuman agony.
When all was over, - when His sun
Had set in terror and in blood,
Still the devoted watches stood,
No task of love was left undone.
Fails that tremendous day of dread
To blanch her cheek with selfish fears
Amid an agony of tears
Her only thought is for the Dead,”
(Poem to be continued tomorrow!)
“You number and record my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle – are they not in Your book?...In God have I put my trust and confident reliance.”
Psalm 56: 8, 11
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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