Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” – John 20:15-16
This passage is stunning in it’s simplicity, it’s power, and its theology. We need to slow down and dwell on this moment to not miss the glory in a story that’s familiar.
Mary Magdalene is the key figure in each of the gospel accounts of the resurrection. She has seen a stone rolled away, guards frozen in fear, a tomb that is empty, folded grave clothes, and even glorious angels testifying to the resurrection. These have evoked fear, wonder, trembling, and a sprint to tell the disciples. But John makes clear it is not sufficient. Mary is still weeping. Until one word is spoken: “Mary.”
The eternal God, who fashioned the planets and the stars, stops to call Mary by name.
I can think of no religion, philosophy or belief that even hints at something so “over-the-top” – the eternal, all powerful, king and creator individually, uniquely, and personally calls you and I to himself. Yet this is the God the scriptures repeatedly portrays:
- And the LORD said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” – Exodus 33:17
- But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. – Isaiah 43:1
- To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. – John 10:3
- One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. – Acts 16:14
- Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: – Jude 1:1
This personal call is the cementing difference. Oh I may believe in a cause, enjoy a philosophy, be committed to an ideal, but I can only love a person. And when the pressure in life is the most intense, that alone keeps me.
And I’m not alone:
- Simon Peter – “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…” – John 6:68
- Paul of Tarsus – “…which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.” – 2 Timothy 1:12
- Bishop Polycarp – “86 years have I have served him, and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?”
Talk to any follower of Jesus long enough as to why they believe and at the bottom of it all, in some form you will hear: “Jesus called me.”
If you have read this and are struggling with anything in life, turn now in prayer to him who called you. He is near.
If you are currently rejoicing in your life in Jesus, pray for the many that Jesus has yet to call to Himself. I believe he is at work right now doing just that:
2 … Fear not, O Jacob my servant,
Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
4 They shall spring up among the grass
like willows by flowing streams.
5 This one will say, ‘I am the LORD’s,’
another will call on the name of Jacob,
and another will write on his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’
and name himself by the name of Israel.” – Isaiah 44:2-5