Lauren Roth recently joined us for a short series on Leadership. You’ll do yourself a favor if you listen, all three installments, btw. First one – Click here for that. And also if you read this blog. Her complete blog here.
After reading through all the Gospels and their different accounts of the Resurrection, I have been struck by two things:
- How everyone who encountered Jesus’ resurrected body either didn’t recognize him or doubted him.
- That Mary Magdalene was there at the Crucifixion, was present as Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus in his personal tomb and was present on the Resurrection day. She was also the first person to see Jesus in His resurrected body.
After having witnessed the dramatic events of Gethsemane (where Jesus was arrested, a soldier’s ear was cut-off and then put back on), then the following day at the Crucifixion, then Silent Saturday – I can understand how those who encountered the resurrected body of Jesus fumbled to make sense of it.
Oldest daughter was talking to littlest one yesterday. She asked her, “What is it like being little and everyone around you being big? Do you feel like you always have to look up to everybody?” I watched as littlest one was trying to comprehend the question. I said, “I’m not sure little ones know they’re little. I don’t think they know the world around them is made for bigger people.” My comment triggered littlest one (who, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts does not like to feel patronized). Her response was blazing, “I know I’m little! But everyone around me is not bigger than me.”
I smiled inwardly at the contradictory comment. It so aptly portrays how she interacts with the world (she really doesn’t believe she is little). It shows the human nature to live in a duality of belief. Jesus had been telling the disciples that He was the Messiah. That He had come to fulfill the prophecies and redeem Israel. They heard these words and repeated them back on the road to Emmaus – repeated them back to Jesus, not knowing it was Jesus. However, they also speak of their disappointment, “we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened.” They share their perplexity with the recent events of the women finding the tomb empty. Like littlest one, the disciples knew what they had been told – Jesus proclaimed Himself as the Messiah. Littlest one has been told she is little. She can repeat back to you she is little. But her inward belief and perception are different. She doesn’t see the world as bigger than her. The disciples didn’t embrace Jesus as Messiah yet because nothing was lining up with what they imagined or thought the redemption of Israel would look like. It wasn’t until later that day, when they were reclining with Jesus at the table, and Jesus takes “the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them,” that their eyes were opened and they recognized Him. This simple act held such significance as it pointed back to the Last Supper as well as to the miracle of the loaves and fish. Suddenly, this man was not a stranger – He became personal in this simple act that triggered their souls. “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road?” There is something to be said when our hearts are engaged and it is personal. Faith can lead us so much easier when that faith is intimate and personal to us.
The Lord has been challenging me on my dual life. I live with the tension of how far can I live by faith without being labeled crazy? I know I’m already a bit much for people at times. I know I do push the line. However, I also know that at the end of life, there is only one reality – the Kingdom of God. Can one live totally abandoned to the Lord and still walk respected in community? That’s a hard question, isn’t it? We can all think back through the crazies in the Bible. Those who lived abandoned to their “irrational” faith. Certainly, by all rational standards, they were crazy.
How much do I really live with the resurrected Jesus as my entire world? How much am I willing to give up my somewhat respected reputation?
That brings me to point number two: Mary Magdalene. She was present through it all. She was the first person Jesus chose to show His resurrected body too. She was the person Jesus tasked with telling the others that He was alive. There was a desperation in Mary. She needed Jesus. “But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stopped and looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him…’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are seeking?’ Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said, to Him, ‘Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him and I will take Him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, ‘Rabboni!” (John 20:11-16).
Her desperation is beautiful. She followed Jesus throughout the entire events. Then when He went missing, she was frantic for His body. She needed Jesus. This is the woman who Jesus had cast out seven demons. Her life, undeniably changed because of Jesus. She followed Him to the end. Desperate for Him. Could this be why He chose to show Himself to her first? Desperation is not considered beautiful or respectable in our society but it was beautiful to Jesus. Her need of Him is noted all throughout the Gospels. Still to this day, she is one of the most well-known characters in the Bible.
Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, it wasn’t until Jesus was suddenly personal, when He said her name, that she recognized Him. There is something to be said about the connection of belief and intimacy. Intimacy propels faith.
So here I am, on Resurrection Sunday asking the Lord how much am I willing to allow the Resurrected Jesus to lead my life? At the cost of reputation? At the cost of being desperate?
It’s a big question.