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Monday, April 10, 2017

STEALING JESUS





"They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him."
John 20:1-2


Who would want to steal Jesus?  The devil had Him killed; he did not need the cadaver.  God would say, "Not over My dead body!"  So it is an unusual assumption to make, like Mary Magdalene did, when Jesus is misplaced.  He is not in the tomb where a good dead body should be.  But having spent much of her life controlled by the torment of seven demons--seven restless, hopeless demons, she might have a harder time than the rest of us sorting through the evidence. 


Another oddity in the scene was that the grave cloth over his face was carefully folded.  Did an angel do that or is Jesus that kind of guy, one whose mama raised Him right?  "Remember Jesus, always make your bed when you get up."  Was that His first thought after having been raised from the dead?




Now another strange occurrence was that Mary Magdalene mistook Jesus in His resurrected body as a gardener.  Here the most powerful God of the universe who broke the chains of sin and death rose from the grave, and she thinks He is a common laborer.


Two of the Sanhedrin, the rulers of the Pharisees, were secret disciples of Jesus: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.  Joseph provided the tomb and Nicodemus ( of "You must be born again" fame) brought about a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes to prepare Christ's body for burial.  They had to do this quickly before the sun set for the Sabbath.  

Mary Magdalene and another Mary followed them to see where they took the body of their Lord.  They were probably afraid of them and were sneaking around tombstones.  We don't really know. Perhaps they were all united in their purpose.  Nevertheless, this Mary was feeling territorial about the body of her Lord.  It didn't matter how many pounds of spices the men had brought, they weren't her spices, done her way.

Not satisfied that the men had done a good job, Mary Magdalene had come to do Him up properly with their prepared spices before sunrise the next morning.  They weren't as concerned about the Pharisees rules about the Sabbath.  But He wasn't there.  He just wasn't there!  It had been a rough 24 hours with his trial and crucifixion, then an earthquake in the night, and now this.  She had been up close to see his suffering and death.  It was too much.  Time to cry your eyes out when all your plans for God are upset.


"When He rose on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene."
Mark 16:9
She did not recognize His glorified appearance through her tears and lack of understanding of misconstrued facts, but she recognized His voice.  Oh, sweet Lamb of God!  She clung to Him so hard that His next words were a mild rebuke, "Do not cling to Me." John 20:17


Oh, dear Lord, we cannot comprehend who You are.  You break all our conceptions, imaginations, and assumptions.  But you are still gentle enough to call us by name like you did for Mary Magdalene.  




She was a special disciple from whom Christ had cast out seven demons.  He knew she was devoted to Him, but why did He appear to her first?   Perhaps His other disciples would still squabble over whom He loved most as shown by the foot race to the tomb (John beat Peter) and previously recorded arguments over who would sit closest to Jesus in His kingdom.  After all, this was before the coming of the Holy Spirit.  She perhaps was the least likely of all His disciples, but still chosen for this honor as recorded in His Word.  Perhaps her gratitude for His saving touch was the greatest.








"He calls His own sheep by name...(and) they know His voice." John 10:3-4

Recognize His voice.  He speaks in His Word.  The Holy Spirit imprints it upon our heart so that we may follow Him.  Be grateful for His saving grace.

And by the way, as I keep repeating, early writers say that Joseph of Arimathea  watched over Mary the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene during the days of persecution and helped them escape out of the country, strange friendship bonds that could come about only in Christ and Christian fellowship.



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