EASTER SEASON – A Personal Devotional Time
Can you recall a moment which filled you with real “joy”? Perhaps when your baby first smiles at you? When your boyfriend asks you to marry him? Perhaps when you get an unexpected message from your colleague to say how much they value your contribution?
One of the most treasured moments for me in the Easter story is from the Gospel of John verse 16 in chapter 20: “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary’”. Odd, right? But let us stop to dig a little deeper.
It is a moment of deepest tenderness and love, spoken by the risen Jesus on the morning of His resurrection. It is in speaking her name that the unsuspecting Mary Magdalene, lost in deep grief and heartache, whose dreams and hopes and joy had been shattered 2 days earlier, becomes suddenly aware of the identity of the One who speaks.
This was personal. In this one word, Jesus was speaking into the touchpoint of all her pain. It was as if the risen Jesus was confirming His earlier words – “I know my sheep by name.” (John 10:3). I know and understand your heartache, your pain, your loss, but you have not been abandoned. I am here with you (John 14:18). Remember what I told you while I was with you. I and my Father’s promise – “Never will I never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6) is real, true, for death has been defeated. I am Alive.
What an incredible, overwhelming moment of realization for Mary! The dead Jesus for whom she had come to complete His burial rites, was now standing before her, risen from the dead, alive as promised.
Can you feel the wave of emotions that would have embraced her? From total despair to unbelievable joy! Uncontainable! A total reversal from hopelessness to renewed hope; a total confirmation that her trust had not been broken. Jesus was who He said He was.
Good news indeed! “I have seen the Lord!” Not news that she could keep to herself. (John 20:18)
This was the beginning for all those who had been following Jesus to experience. It started an avalanche of people witnessing and testifying to the living and risen Jesus. It marked incredible journeys of transformation – from scared, despairing, abandoned men and women – into bold, courageous individuals whose hearts burned with joy. Like the two travellers to Emmaus who met Jesus on the road that same afternoon: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24: 32). Or like Peter, full of grief and sorrow for denying his closest friend, who days later found restored hope, acceptance and personal forgiveness when the Jesus spoke directly to his heart need in a private conversation (John 21). This same Peter, who several weeks later transformed by the Holy Spirit, claimed before the authorities, “As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20).
Have you experienced this joy? It is transformational. In this world where we are constantly barraged with tragedy, sadness, pain, suffering, injustices, how much we all need hearts that can experience true, everlasting joy!
This is the wonderful, truly wonderful, message of Hope the Easter story gives for all. Living, life-changing Hope when we encounter the living and loving risen Jesus. Not just for a few days in April, but for a lifetime.
“I have seen the Lord!”
If you are looking for an English-speaking church in Ho Chi Minh City, you are welcome to join us on Sunday Service at 11.00 AM