Bethel Baptist Church – April 28, 2019, 10:15 am
Loving Jesus: Learning from John and Mary Magdalene explores the questions of why it was that John was the first to conclude that Jesus had resurrected from the dead, as He said that he would, and why Mary Magdalene was the first person to whom Jesus revealed himself after the resurrection. Loving Jesus: Learning from John and Mary Magdalene asserts that the eight days between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday are the most important eight days in the history of the world. Nothing that happened in these eight days seem accidental or incidental. Only God could have organized, ordered, over-ridded, overruled, and orchestrated all the myriad choices of the people involved so that the outcome was as it was.
Holy Week: The Greatest Revelation of God and His Love
Holy Week was a public declaration of who Jesus was and a public display of the love of God. It was John 3:16 in action: For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. NLT translation.
The Resurrection: The Love of God Triumphant
The resurrection of Jesus the Christ is the love of God triumphant. Love highlighted love on that resurrection Sunday morning. During the first Holy Week a scribe asked Jesus, what is the greatest commandment? Jesus replied: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. The resurrection, it would seem, placed a spotlight on the man and the woman who loved Jesus most from among those who followed Him while on earth.
Loving Jesus: Learning from John
John was a disciple of John the Baptist until John the Baptist declared ‘behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’. John followed Jesus from that day. He was among the first disciples called by Jesus. He was not the leader, but the lad. The youngest of the disciples. He was never first named. It was always: James and John, Peter and John, other disciples and John. John was the and. But John was always present wherever Jesus was: at the raising of the daughter of Jairus; the Transfiguration; at the village when the Samaritans refused Jesus passage on his way to the Passover; at the preparation of the Upper Room; at the institution of the Eucharist; at the house of the High Priest, at the foot of the Cross and at the sepulcher where Jesus was temporarily entombed.
The lesson from John is clear. Loving Jesus brings insight into the spiritual meaning of events and happenings. It helps us to figure out what the teachings of Jesus means. The Gospel of John cuts through history, genealogy and brings us to the height of spiritual understanding: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God…. All things were made by Him and without Him was nothing made that was made…… The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His Glory as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John Chapter 1.
Learning from Mary Magdalene
Unlike John’s love for Jesus, which was never put in a sexual context, given the age-old double standard, Mary Magdalene’s love for Jesus has been. The facts are Jesus that healed Mary Magdalene of Magdala in Galilee, after which she became a devout follower. She was a woman of substance, who among other women, supported the ministry of Jesus and his disciples, financially.
Mary Magdalene was one of the women who followed Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem. She was at the cross when Jesus was crucified. She went and saw where he had been entombed. She was first to go to the tomb on Sunday morning, before it was day. She saw that the stone cover had been roll away. She ran to Peter, then ran to John and the other disciples to inform them of what she saw. She ran back to the tomb and lingered after the disciples had left. She was determined to know what had happened to her Lord. She was in grief and weeping. She had cared for Jesus in life and would ensure that He had a proper burial. Visuality impaired by her tears, blinded by her grief and single minded in her purpose she did not recognize the risen Lord.
The lesson from Mary Magdalene is divine. When we love Jesus with our substance, mind and soul even where we are overwhelmed by circumstances, Jesus will reveal Himself to us. He knows us by name and we will recognize His voice as He calls us by name in the circumstances.
John and Mary Magdalene have a special place in the history of the Resurrection. This is probably because of the depth of their love for Jesus. Oh, that we may love Jesus as they did.