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Archive for April, 2012

One of the mysteries in the bible for me is what happened when Jesus came to visit His mother Mary. She is not listed in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as being present during his visits after His resurrection. Surely He must have appeared to Mary His mother. She was there when He was crucified. She was there when He was buried. She had been with Him throughout His life as we see various times after His birth that she was with Him such as at the wedding in Cana. I wonder what happened when He came to her.

Think about her life for a moment. She was a young virgin when an angel appeared to her and said, “Hail Highly Favored One…..” and told her she had been chosen by God to give birth to the Savior of the world. She said yes to God’s plan. She gave birth to Him in a stable of animals and then had to flee to Egypt because Herod wanted to kill the baby Jesus. She raised Him and cared for Him like no one else ever will. She saw His miracles and was even there for His first public miracle of turning water into wine. In fact she kind of instigated it. Then she is there during His passion and watches Him die on the cross before her eyes. She helped to prepare His body for burial. So why is there no mention of Mary the mother of Jesus during His visits after the resurrection.

While I would not make a claim to know for sure or teach this as a doctrine, it is my thought that Jesus’ first visit with His mother Mary was so highly personal and emotional for Mary that the Holy Spirit did not have it recorded. I have often heard it expressed that God is a gentleman meaning He is polite and considerate. While God does record the failings of Peter and the other disciples, there are certain things left unwritten such as the exact nature of Mary Magdaline’s life before Jesus healed her of demon possession. I believe that the moment Jesus first came to see His mother after His resurrection was so personal and emotional for her and out of respect for that moment it was kept private.

Let’s imagine how she must have felt though. She knew better than anyone why He had come into the world. She knew it from the start when the angel Gabriel told her. She saw Him die on the cross and heard Him give her care over to John. She saw Him buried and then she sees Him after His resurrection. She must have been so full of joy that she could not contain her emotions. Tears of joy that must have flowed from her eyes. Surely she embraced Him with a wonderful motherly hug and didn’t want to let go.

There is something in the bible that convinces me that Jesus must have visited Mary after His resurrection. Mary was with the disciples in the upper room when the promise of the Father came upon them. When the Holy Spirit was sent to those who were waiting, Mary was there with them.  In the bible she may fade from the scene as the focus of the story shifts to what the apostles did as they started the church, but she was there when the Holy Spirit came signaling that she still has a role. She is one person I look forward to meeting one day when Jesus calls me home. I would love to hear the story from her 🙂

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While I do not believe in ghosts, I realize there are people who do. Some might be tempted to think that Jesus’ followers saw a ghost when He appeared to them after His resurrection. There were two occasions when Jesus appeared to His followers that He did something ghost cannot do. He ate food.

In Luke 24- “40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.[f] 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb.[g] 43 And He took it and ate in their presence.” Jesus ate food in front of them to show them it was indeed Jesus and He was in His body. On another occasion in John 21 we see, “15 So when they had eaten breakfast” in reference to Jesus eating breakfast with his disciples. He not only ate with them, He even cooked the breakfast of fish and bread that He ate with them.

Jesus showed His followers the proofs of His scars from His wounds and ate with them to demonstrate that He was risen from the dead in His physical body. He displayed the fact that He had defeated death. He took on our worst problem, which is death, and defeated it through His resurrection.

It makes me think about the problems I may face in life from time to time and compare them to the worst thing we will all have to face someday which is death. It makes my problems seem not as monumental. It also helps me to realize there is hope in every situation because the one who conquered death, Jesus, has also made a promise. He said, “I am with you always….”

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Some nicknames are fun ones for people such as Magic Johnson, Air Jordan etc. Some celebrities are known by their first or last name such as Bono of U-2. Some people are called by nicknames they really don’t like but the nicknames seem to stick. One of Jesus’ followers has been known by a one time flaw for centuries. Thomas was a follower of Jesus who had some doubts regarding the resurrection of Jesus. Because of Thomas having doubts we have the phrase Doubting Thomas which no one wants to be called.

Thomas had heard from the other disciples that they had seen Jesus after His resurrection, but Thomas did not believe them. He told the other disciples, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” It is easy for us who are living 2,000 years later and have the benefit of reading the story to perhaps be critical of Thomas and his doubts, but lets put ourselves in his place. Thomas saw Jesus get arrested and knew Jesus had died. Thomas knew Jesus had been buried in a tomb with a huge stone rolled in front of it to close it. It had been an immensely emotional ordeal for all of the followers of Jesus and Thomas experienced it all first hand and now the other followers are claiming to have seen Jesus. How many of us would have had doubts too?

Jesus appeared to the disciples in dramatic fashion to perhaps get Thomas’s attention. We see in John 20  “And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas had the proof he needed to respond in faith by proclaiming “My Lord my God!” Jesus replied, “because you have seen you believe. Blessed are those who believe and have not seen.”

How often do we face difficult times and faith seems far from us? How often do we doubt the goodness of God when we go through a hardship? We can stop and reflect on the fact that Jesus took on our biggest problem by defeating death and take encouragement from His resurrection.

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I love to read about the visits by Jesus after His resurrection because they show us more about His character through how He related with people who knew Him. Peter is a great example of how even though we fail, Jesus will reach out to us and give us another fresh start.

Peter had a forceful and impulsive personality. He could be brilliant one moment and make a blunder the next. When Jesus told His disciples that He would die and they would fail Him, Peter proclaimed he that even if he died, he would not fail Jesus. Jesus told Peter that Peter would deny Jesus 3 times before Jesus would be crucified. Peter did exactly that. He denied Jesus 3 times. He had lost face with the other disciples in the process because they knew it.

During one of Jesus’ visits, Jesus met the disciples on the seashore. He was cooking some fish for them. He ate breakfast with them and then restored Peter. He asked Peter 3 times in front of the other disciples the same question- “Peter do you love me?” Each of those times Peter answered yes and each of those times Jesus gave Peter a job- “then feed my sheep” meaning take care of the followers of Jesus. Peter the one who messed up big time was restored by Jesus.

No matter how much we mess up, Jesus will be there to restore us and give us a new start. His mercy and grace are beyond our understanding.

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Mary Magdalene’s story shows us a lot about Jesus and His mercy and character in contrast to the harshness of the culture at that time and the brutality women face in many parts of the world today. Just last night I was watching a show about a father who killed his own daughter in what is called an “honor” killing as if there could be any honor in a father mercilessly killing his own daughter. Even in lesser ways women get the short end of things. Consider what happens when a man has several lovers. He is considered a man others might be jealous of, but if a woman has several lovers she is considered a bad woman and one other women turn their backs on.

Mary Magdalene was a woman who had a destitute life before she met Jesus. We read in Luke 8 that Jesus delivered her of being possessed by 7 demons. She would have been at the lowest level of society and an outcast. Jesus healed her and welcomed her into His group. We read in other places in the bible after that Mary the Mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Jesus brought Mary Magdalene into His group of followers and she then hung out with His mom.

Imagine being Mary Magdalene standing at the foot of the cross of Jesus watching Him die a brutal death. There was the man who had spared her life and given her a new life and He was dying on a cross. She would have seen Him placed into the tomb and perhaps helped prepare His body for burial. That was on a Friday afternoon.

On Sunday morning She goes to the tomb and discovers the huge stone had been rolled away and the body of Jesus is gone. She went to tell His followers thinking someone had done something with it. After His followers Peter and John checked it out and left, Mary stayed there standing outside the tomb weeping which is completely understandable. The man who saved her life had died and she had watched it happen. Then she encountered Jesus. She did not recognize Him at first because her eyes were full of tears, but when He said her name, “Mary”, she threw her arms around Him out of joy. Jesus told her not to hang into Him because He needed to go to the Father. He also told her something that gets my attention.

Jesus told Mary to go tell His followers that He had risen from the dead. In that culture a woman’s testimony did not count for much in a court. Jesus gave her the privilege of being the first person to see Him after His resurrection and He gave her a task- Go Tell. Jesus elevated the status of women and Mary’s story is a great example of that.

As I reflect on Jesus and Mary Magdalene, I think about how what Jesus did for her He wants to do for all of us. He wants to come into our lives no matter what they look like. He wants to forgive us, heal us and raise us to new levels of life. His mercy and grace are beyond measure.

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At times it may seem as if Jesus is portrayed as being a helpless victim during His betrayal, arrest, mock trial, and crucifixion. A brief conversation recorded in John 18 shows a sometimes overlooked aspect of the Passion of Jesus.

Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”

They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

A detachment of soldiers came to arrest Jesus. A detachment would have been between 400 to 600 men armed with swords and spears. Jesus knew what was going to happen, so He went out to meet them. If I knew 400 to 600 men were coming to take me somewhere to be killed, I would go the other way, not go out to meet them. Jesus asked them a question. He asked who they were looking for and they told him “Jesus of Nazareth”. Then Jesus said three little words- He said “I am He”.

The sometimes overlooked part is what happened to the detachment. It is recorded as “they drew back and fell to the ground”. In other words with three little words Jesus knocked them down on their rear ends. He displayed His power as God who came to earth. After they got up, He let them take Him.

Consider this thought- Jesus had the power all along to stop the whole ordeal. He has all power, but He let them take Him and crucify Him because He loves us. He said it Himself “Greater love has no one than this that they lay down their life for a friend”.

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