How Jesus responds to our mourning
By Lani Chamness, Lt. Colonel –
We find in John 20:11-18 a record of the morning of Jesus’ resurrection. What he does at his first appearance after rising from the grave is truly wondrous. Consider:
He didn’t rush off to see his disciples to remind them that he rose from the dead just as he said he would.
He didn’t make a grand appearance to the religious leaders who opposed him to prove he truly was the Son of God.
He didn’t show himself to those who mocked and tortured him to convince them that he really was the King of kings.
He didn’t ascend into heaven, like Superman piercing through the atmosphere, to reunite with his loving Father, who had turned his face away from his son when he carried the sin of the world as he hung on the cross. That, by the way, was the wound that cut Jesus deeper than his torn flesh, his nailed pierced hands and feet, his thorn-crowned brow or the words of hate and humiliation.
Instead, the first thing Jesus does is comfort his mother, Mary, who is weeping at the tomb because his body isn’t there. She came to anoint his body with spices, hoping to honor him and touch him for the last time. This was the Mary who anointed Jesus with expensive perfume with her hair. Jesus said this was a beautiful act of worship that would always be remembered. How that fragrance lingered on her, how that essence clung on to those nearby, and how that scent would rise at the waft of every breeze through that room—it would be a memory held deep in her heart.
And now at the tomb, to anoint his body would be her last moment of worship of her Lord. There, Jesus finds her profoundly devastated.
As her eyes are flooded and blurred with tears, she does not recognize Jesus standing there. But the moment he speaks her name, her heart clearly knows his voice. She had heard him mention her name in close and intimate settings; there was no doubt it was her Lord right there beside her. And on that day, her heart was resurrected from any doubt that he was the Messiah and from any fear of what it would cost her to proclaim her devotion to him from that day on.
At his first appearance, the very first thing Jesus does is comfort. We all have needed comfort for various reasons in life. We all need comfort today in specific ways as we weather this COVID-19 storm. Many of you are tired, weary and spent. Receive his comfort today.
Maybe you are struggling in some way with sadness, fear or devastation. Maybe you are grieving over the loss of a loved one, maybe aching in your heart to be closer to family members, or depressed or heartbroken over an unexpected loss of something significant. Jesus wants you and I to know how much he cares for those of us who are weeping at a tomb of sadness, of fear or brokenness.
He knows your name. Close your eyes and listen well beyond the sound of your beating heart and hear him whisper your name, ever so gently and lovingly. Let the Wonderful Counselor comfort you.
We are reminded in Psalm 34:18 that the Lord is near to the brokenhearted. Sense his faithful presence with you. In 1 John 4:18, that perfect love casts out all fear. God is love and when we live in his perfect and strong love, the less power fear has over us. And Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that the Lord’s plan is to give us a hope and a future.
Let’s trust him together, believing and resting in his love and comfort for us today.
Here is a prayer for today:
Dear Heavenly Father,
We celebrate the resurrection of your Son, Jesus, who gave his life for us, obliterated the grip of sin and conquered the fear of death. Thank you for being a God of comfort and compassion and for being close beside us in our every need. I am listening for your voice. Would you speak my name just now? Overwhelm me with your presence of comfort and peace. Amen.
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