Easter 2018 – Mary Madgalene

#biblestudy #easter #hesalive #marymagdalene

So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

 

Mary Magdalene has just been to the tomb and seen the stone rolled away (v. 1). She does not understand. Would any of us have understood? Of course not. The only explanation that makes sense is that someone has taken his body and moved it somewhere else. Why would anyone do that? Who knows, but how else do you explain the empty tomb?

Imagine how she must feel. She is already in terrible grief because her teacher, her friend, Jesus has died in a horrific and humiliating way. Now even the one last comfort of visiting the place of his burial has been taken away. So she runs to tell two of the disciples, Simon Peter and the “beloved disciple” we assume to be John. They are the first disciples to investigate, but they don’t understand any better than Mary (v. 9).

Did she know Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had placed him in this tomb and completed the Jewish rituals of burial on the body? I don’t think so, because she never looks for them. It would make sense to ask them if they knew what happened. Maybe they had to move the body for some reason.

Instead, she goes back to the tomb looking for answers to the questions that must be swirling in her mind. When she looks in the tomb, two angels are sitting where the body had been. All the burial cloths are there, but she is too grief-stricken to be impressed.

 

13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”

 

Then for some reason, she turns around and there’s a man she thinks must be the gardener. She asks him if he took the body, and if so, where? He speaks her name, and finally she recognizes him as Jesus (v. 16).

It intrigues me that she did not recognize Jesus when she saw him. She did not recognize him when she first heard him. But when he called her by name, she knew. Her heart must have leapt straight up to heaven where Jesus was about to go. For some reason, Jesus tells her she cannot embrace him for the moment. Wouldn’t you want to if you had just received someone you love back from the dead? But he does tell her to go to the disciples and deliver this message:

 

17b  ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

 

In doing this, he commissioned her to be “the apostle to the apostles.”

Until the moment she recognizes Jesus, she is in a state of grief, questioning, and disorientation, almost to the point of despair. The mystics called this the Dark Night of the Soul. This occurs after you have encountered God in a personal way, and then you sense God’s absence. You are disoriented and maybe even despairing. But as the saying goes, it’s always darkest before the dawn. Mary Magdalene was the first to encounter the resurrected Jesus because she persevered through the grief, questioning, and everything that came with her dark night.

I feel like that has been what my journey of faith has been about, persevering through the dark night. Several times, I have felt the disorientation and questioning Mary went through. And so I find encouragement in her persevering. And now I have reached a place where some of those questions are starting to be answered. I can see the first rays of the dawn. The only thing that brought me here was perseverance. I didn’t know how to get out of those dark nights and into the light, so I persevered, because it was the only thing I knew how to do.

If you are struggling with grief, questions about God and your purpose in life, or any kind of darkness and disorientation, persevere through it. Like Mary Magdalene, you just might encounter the resurrected Christ.

And now, here’s another woman of faith to deliver the Good News more powerfully than I ever could.

 

Kingdom word association

This was an exercise a group of us did at a class in church. When you hear the word “kingdom,” what do you think of?

Words associated with kingdom

When you hear “kingdom of God,” what do you think of?

Words associated with "kingdom of God"

Holy Week is about a clash between two visions of kingdom. One is the kingdoms of this world that have existed throughout history. The other is the kingdom of God, which Jesus stood for.

Take a look at the list associated with kingdom. What would you add to it?

Take a look at the list associated with kingdom of God. What would you add to it?

What is most striking about the differences between the two?

I see the kingdoms of this world operating by strictly maintaining hierarchies with power and wealth. Hierarchy makes it easier to maintain order. We can hardly even imagine a kingdom being able to function without a king, someone who dominates everyone, and gives wealth, titles, land, and freedom to those he/she sees fit. But Jesus called us to imagine a different kind of kingdom. One where greatness is measured by love and service, not wealth and power. A kingdom distinguished by peace, acceptance, and joy, where freedom is for all, and no one lives in need because abundance is shared rather than hoarded by a few. And he offered us this kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

Which do we prefer? Sunday, we were shouting “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!” But on Friday, we will shout “Crucify! Crucify!” We welcomed him as a king but a king who would destroy our enemies. When he refused to seize power and take the kingdom by force, and he loved the people we hated, we rejected him. We would rather crucify Jesus than live in the kingdom of God with him. That is the hard truth we need to wrestle with during Holy Week.

Valentines Day Post

For Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d tell you how I met my new wife. Before I met her, I had given up on my dream of marrying the love of my life. So if, like me, you’ve reached a point of giving up and thinking it will never happen for you, I hope this will give you some hope.

image of me and Fran with wedding cake

Fran and I met at a meeting of American Christian Fiction Writers, which my mom told me about, so she gets credit for that. Fran and I were placed in the same critique group, and she had brought the first chapter of a suspense novel she was working on. She had a man watching some security footage of his cabin, thinking he would catch the thieves who stole his canoeing equipment, but instead witnessed a murder. And then through conversation, he found out his boss might have been involved. I was impressed. I told her she had already created fertile ground for suspense.

After the session, we talked a little. I asked if she would like to meet at a coffee shop next Saturday for a mutual critique session, and she agreed. Now you have to understand when I’m interested in a woman, I go into stealth mode. I don’t want her to know I’m attracted to her until the right moment. So for now, we were just talking about writing.

Our critique session went well, and our personalities seemed to click. But before I knew it, we were about to go home. I started to panic, because I had to tell her before she walked away. Time to get out of stealth mode. I said, “I was interested in your writing. But the real reason I asked meet with you is I noticed you’re not wearing a wedding ring.”

And she said, “I think I’m a little old for you.”

Oh no!

I blurted out, “I’m older than you think.”

People tend to think I look younger than I am. I always thought this would be an advantage in approaching women. But now, I had to totally get my head turned around, because I had to convince her I was actually old enough for her. I told her how old I really was, and she replied, “A southern lady doesn’t tell her age.”

I was not going to ask, in case you are wondering. But since the topic was in the open, I needed to reframe it so she could answer in lady-like fashion. I told her, “And a southern gentleman doesn’t ask. But since you know my age, maybe you could just tell me, am I within your range of possibility?”

She said yes, and that’s how it all began.

2018 Writing Resolutions

Found this post in one of my FB author groups, BooksGoSocial Authors’ Group. It’s a closed group, but if you are an author, you might consider joining.

What are everyone’s writing goals for 2018? Mine is to finish and release my two WIPs: the sequel to IVL and my side project novella.

Here was my answer.

David Anderson This is not official yet, but here are some of my ideas.

  • Complete two unfinished nonfiction projects
  • Find a publisher for my novel, win at least two contests
  • Publish at least ten articles, become an Amazon bestseller in Biblical Fiction, Historical Fiction, and a yet-to-be-determined Nonfiction category
  • Make enough money writing to finally justify this career choice.

Looks like 2018 will be a busy year

To be continued…