John 20-21 20:10-16 "...but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, 'Woman, why are you crying?' 'They have taken my Lord away and I don't know where they have put him,' she said. "At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. "Woman,' he said, 'why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?' Thinking he was the gardener, she said, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.' "Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned toward him and cried out, 'Teacher!'" This passage always makes me stop in my tracks every time I read it! And reading it this time, I have even another thought that goes with it. Here;s where I'm going to go with this: Names. Perspectives. Waiting. Tie-in. 2 thoughts. (keep reading, I know it's a book I'm writing...but it's GOOD!) :) Names. I'm not sure how the culture is/was in your country, but in Ireland, everyone uses first names. We even call the President and our politicians solely by their first names! :) Depending on where you live in America, that's sometimes considered rude and impolite. Because I grew up in Ireland, first names have always been really important to me and so when I read this passage I instantly pull out the fact that Jesus called Mary by name, and she knew it was him because of it. Maybe I'm off, but that's incredible! She didn't realize it was Jesus by LOOKING at him (I'm sure being raised from the dead he looked a bit different anyway), but she realized it was him when he SAID HER NAME. WOW! Does that blow anyone else away? Perspective. Mary was looking for Jesus and saw the Angels, and saw this man whom she thought was the gardener. When she took a moment, and listened, she realized it was Jesus because she HEARD her name. She had to change her perspective. Stay with me---I'll tie it all in at the end. Waiting. Mary was at the tomb, and although I don't think she had the thought, "I'm going to wait here for Jesus" that's what ended up happening. She was waiting in her crying and in her pain. Tie in: First, Jesus knows your name. He knows YOUR name. That tells me that he is more personal than we can imagine! When someone calls me by my name, instead of Mrs or "hey you!" I instantly feel closer to them...even if I just met them. ESPECIALLY if they pronounce my name right! :-) So...Jesus is personal. That means he knows how to get our attention in a personal way. Like how he got Mary's attention. 1st thought: Are you in a season of searching for the Lord and not finding him? I would challenge you to maybe look for him in a different way than you have in the past and trust that he will say your name in a way that you will be able to hear. Mary was using her eyes, not her ears when she was looking for Jesus. It was with her ears that she ended up finding him. 2nd thought: Are you feeling discouraged in your waiting? Does it feel like FORRREEEEVVVEER? I encourage you that waiting is not an idle behavior but a very active one. Waiting and searching I think often times go hand-in-hand. Mary was waiting as she was crying and full of pain...and it was in her waiting, even though I'm sure she didn't plan to wait, that she heard Jesus call her name. *********************** John 21:15-19 Jesus asked Peter, 3 times, the same question. "Do you love me?" I always wonder why. I know Jesus responds a little differently after Peter says yes three times, but I still think it's strange. What I want to share with you is something my Dad talked to me about once. He would say, "Hannah, why does God ask us questions?" I replied, "I don't know?" "Me neither," Dad responded, "because he already knows the answer. So I wonder if God asks us questions not for His benefit, but for ours." I think this verse can point to that exact thought of my Dad's. Jesus already knew that Peter loved him...but I wonder if He asked Peter for the sake of encouraging Peter. I mean these questions come not long after Peter DENIED the Christ, THREE TIMES! I would feel so guilty and unworthy if I were in his shoes. So for Jesus to ask Peter, three times, I wonder if He wanted to redeem Peter for each time he denied Christ and not for His own sake, but for Peter's sake. If God's asking you a question, or a few questions, don't think just about the answer you think He is looking for but about the question and what He is trying to teach and encourage you by your own honest answer. He already knows your heart before you speak...be encouraged that it is your honest heart that He is wanting when He asks you those questions.
John 15:1-4 Jesus talking- "I am the true vine, and my Father is the Gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine (Jesus). Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." God prunes. God is the gardener. My Dad was a gardener and sometimes when he would prune his plants it made them look ugly and really small! But as they would grow, they would actually grow fuller and more beautiful than the wild plants around our house. How many of you feel ugly and small when God is done pruning you?? I know I do. I think of this when I read these verses. Pruning and cutting are not really pleasant adjectives when it comes to our Christian walk...but it seems like these are some really important principals to grasp when it comes to bearing fruit for His Kingdom. "He cuts off every branch that does not bear fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so it will be even more fruitful." I want to encourage you. If God is doing some cutting in your life, trust that it's in parts where no fruit is being bared. And if He is doing some pruning in your life, trust that it's in parts that He desires you to be MORE fruitful. Sometimes it's confusing which He's doing in which part of our lives but you know, whether it's cutting or pruning, He's making us more like Himself! I pray that God gives you insight into what He's doing in your life. Take some time today to ask Him where He's cutting and where He's pruning and how you can submit to His actions.
John 12:37 "Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him." Wow. This verse makes me think of the purpose of of miraculous signs. I ask God for signs to help boost my faith, but these people didn't even believe when they saw all these things! It makes me realize that signs are not the foundation for our hearts to believe. What helps our hearts believe is encountering Christ himself and now what He can do. Some of you know my brother, John-Michael (Dimond), and I lost our Dad almost 1 year ago. When he first died, I never asked God why. I kept telling God that even though I don't get why my Dad died nor do I agree with it, I would still choose to trust Him and what He is doing. It's almost been 1 year and in the last 3 weeks I've felt God's presence more tangible now than I have this whole time since Dad's died. Believe me, I've been asking God for those miraculous signs because there have been major crossroads of choosing to keep trusting Christ or not. I've only seen a handful of miraculous signs in my life, and I can say confidently that they never helped me believe in Christ, they have only encouraged the belief that I already have in Him. I know we're all MKs in Christian homes, but I also know that I'm not the only one who has struggled with wanting a sign to help me believe. Therefore, I want to encourage you to believe and choose Christ at your crossroads. Let His miraculous signs encourage our belief instead of establish it.