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One word

Every week, a few of us neighbors get together in the evening and spend an hour or so reading aloud the Bible and discussing what we read and how we’ve experience God’s Truth in our lives. Last week, in the wake of Easter, we took a break from our current section and read through each Gospel’s resurrection account. When we got to John, one section struck me: the part where Mary Magdalene encounters Jesus at the tomb (John 20:1-15 Message):

Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone was moved away from the entrance. She ran at once to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, breathlessly panting, "They took the Master from the tomb. We don't know where they've put him."

Peter and the other disciple left immediately for the tomb. They ran, neck and neck. The other disciple got to the tomb first, outrunning Peter. Stooping to look in, he saw the pieces of linen cloth lying there, but he didn't go in. Simon Peter arrived after him, entered the tomb, observed the linen cloths lying there, and the kerchief used to cover his head not lying with the linen cloths but separate, neatly folded by itself. Then the other disciple, the one who had gotten there first, went into the tomb, took one look at the evidence, and believed. No one yet knew from the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. The disciples then went back home.

But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus' body had been laid. They said to her, "Woman, why do you weep?"

"They took my Master," she said, "and I don't know where they put him."

After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn't recognize him.

Jesus spoke to her, "Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?"

She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, "Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him."

Then that gardener says one word to her, a word that will change her entire world—one which at that moment was darker than any she’d known, and she knew darkness intimately. Not long before she had suffered torment at the hands of demons—and Jesus cast them away, held out his hand and enfolded her into his circle of disciples and followers. And now, her heart was broken beyond repair because this man who’d had rescued her from that life of hell-on-earth and given her a new life beyond her dreams was dead. If there was one thing she was sure of it was that. She’d watched him be stripped, nails rip his flesh and anguish on that instrument of Roman torture for hours. She’d watched him die.

But then that gardener says that one word and it all changes.

He says, “Mary.”

He said her name.

And with that, her eyes open. Her black and colorless-ness world floods with brilliant, blinding light. Her heart rips with pure, hot joy. She sees him. Everything she thought she knew brittles and falls to the ground as dust. Reality invades her vision. She sees things as they are: He is alive.

And that changes everything.

And that changes everything for me too. I’d actually been ruminating over that moment before I encountered it again last week, having come across it in my personal reading some months before. I’d been thinking on what it would be like to hear Jesus say my name. For him to say that one word in the midst of my own darkness and failed vision and unbelief.

And it still takes my breath away.

When I hear him say my name it reminds me of what’s real and True. It reminds me of who I am—beloved and cherished and oh-so-loved. It reminds of the world I walk in—one teeming with his redeeming, moving, breathing Kingdom. It reminds me that Life will out. I reminds me that I am hid in that life-breathing Kingdom and in God with Jesus. And that reminds me of my purpose: to walk with Jesus in Kingdom-coming. To be in the room. To love—to throw out those seeds of life—wherever I go.

This isn’t a one-time deal. It’s not a once-moment for me. It is daily—no, it is even more often than that. I must hear my name over and over for I all too often let what I think I know blind my vision or my unbelief cloud what’s real.

But he hasn’t stop saying my name. And it keeps taking my breath away.

(Image: from Appearance of Christ to Mary Magdalene by Alexander Ivanov and Mariya Magdalena by Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys)


Mother Laura said…
Oh, beautiful, Carmen. Thank you so much.
Sally said…