Devotional Week 17 Thursday
“Thus says the Lord, He who created you…and He who formed you, ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you…I have called you by your name; you are Mine…you are precious in My sight and honored and I love you.”
Isaiah 43: 1, 4
You Dreamed Me Up
“O dear God
It was You, You alone
Who dreamed me up.
Nobody else would ever have thought of me.
Or planned for me
Or looked right through me
With future contemplation.
Right from the beginning of time
I was all Your idea.
You had big things in mind for me
Good things, glorious things
And now, with magnificent dexterity
You are making them come to pass
Well, I stand amazed on the sideline
And praise Your infinite patience.”
Ruth Harms Calkins
Lord, I Keep Running Back To You
Today’s Study Text:
“On saying this, (Mary) turned around and saw Jesus standing there but she did not know (recognize) that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you crying so? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing that it was the gardener, she replied, ‘Sir, if you carried Him away from here, tell me where you have put Him, and I will take Him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary?’ Turning around she said to Him in Hebrew, ‘Rabboni!’ – which means Teacher or Master.”
John 20: 14-16
“He is Risen” Part 4
“He Knows My Name”
“Our friends bring us to the grave and leave us there, but God will not.”
Have I ever felt that I was “living a tragedy” and yet, if I had turned around, Someone was really right beside me?
“’She did not know that it was Jesus’ (John 20: 14). How could (Mary) know? (Jesus) was not where he was supposed to be. When we see acquaintances in the wrong context, we often do not recognize them. Mary beheld a living man, but the Teacher should have been dead. How could she have known it was He? Consider how often we do not recognize Him: in the face of a needful stranger, in the Word of the sermon, the bread and the wine. How can we ever really know it is He? He tells us, and we believe!”
Clayton J. Schmit
“The victim of Calvary is now…loose and at large.”
J. I. Packer
Over the past ten years as I have worked on the daily devotions here in Transformation Garden, I’ve been blessed to uncover some of the most inspiring books penned by women and men of God. I can’t begin to tell you how the written words of Christians down through the ages have changed my own life, and I have tried to diligently pass on to you the quotes and thoughts which I have found tremendously beneficial.
There are a few authors, scholars, and theologians which I hold in a special place in my heart. J. I. Packer is in this group. His book, Knowing God, has been a tremendous motivator in my own journey to have a deep and abiding relationship with my Father in heaven. The fact that this man of God radiates his own love for his Father in everything he writes was what lead me to delve a little deeper into some of his books and thus to find what I know I will keep as one of my all-time favorite quotes. I’m going to repeat it for this gem is really a megaphone calling us to keep our eyes and ears open for just at the time we feel left alone on a globe in the middle of space, lookout! In J. I. Packer’s words: “The victim (Jesus) of Calvary is now…loose and at large.” I have to tell you, this short sentence makes me want to shout “Hallelujah!” everytime I read it. And if you want proof that these words are true – verifiably true – come with me to a tomb where a sobbing Mary Magdalene has just been confronted with the reality that the tomb is empty…and the body of Jesus is missing. Professor Gail O’Day, in her commentary on John 20: 11-18 calls this particular passage, “One of the most beautifully told stories in all of Scripture.” I couldn’t agree more and then she continues with this insightful observation, “its beauty and power come from its simplicity and transparency. For the reader of this story, everything is right there on the page – nothing is hidden or held back. Mary does not realize that the gardener is Jesus, but John makes sure the reader does.”
I’ll tell you why I find this to be such a moving portion of Scripture: there’s not one of us who has a problem relating to Mary. All of us, at one time or another in our lives have found ourselves peering into a tomb of emptiness – that deep, dark place which envelopes all our hopes, dreams and future. It is a pit of desperation where we look to the sky and cry out, “Dear God, have you forsaken me?” Joseph cried out in a pit in Dothan…and Jesus cried out on the cross, “Why have You forsaken me,” And yet, the Apostle John so touchingly takes this moment to pen a simple detail which you and I can grab hold of when we find ourselves covered by darkness and filled with sorrow: “When she (Mary) had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus.” Indeed, at that moment, she didn’t realize who it was, but you and I, as John’s readers, know Jesus was there. Close at hand. Right by Mary. In the midst of the darkness, the “victim of Calvary” became the “victor of the Resurrection” and He was “on the loose and at large” at the opening to an empty tomb. But Jesus didn’t just stand by Mary, silently. Instead – He spoke. And not just any word. Jesus called Mary by name. In his book, The Road to Daybreak, Henri J. M. Nouwen exquisitely describes the interaction between Jesus and Mary:
“This simple and deeply moving story brings me in touch with my fear as well as my desire to be known. When Jesus calls Mary by her name, He is doing much more than speaking the words by which everybody knows her, for her name signifies her whole being…Jesus knows her story: her virtue, her fears and her love, her anguish and her hope. He knows every part of her heart. Nothing in her is hidden from Him. He knows her even more deeply and profoundly than she knows herself. Therefore, when He utters her name He brings about a profound event. Mary suddenly realizes that the one who truly knows her truly loves her…I can see what a healing moment this encounter must have been. Mary feels at once fully known and fully loved.”
Isn’t it a wonderful feeling when we know that the person who knows us best loves us most? What a relief…but even more, how empowering for this knowledge can assist us in releasing the baggage that contains all the negative packages called self-doubt and insecurity.
The President of Union Theological Seminary in New York, Serene Jones, in her comments on the story recorded in John 20: 1-18 brings home the way this event touches your life and mine, this very day: “Like Mary, we long to be known by God – to be held in God’s gaze, to be seen by God as the object of God’s love and desire and care. This longing is not ‘general’ – we do not want to be loved by some distant cosmic Lord…we want to be seen for who we are in the most intimate, far-reaching corners of our interior lives, our bodies, our histories, our dreams and losses.”
This is the way I want to be loved by Jesus. How about you? As Serene Jones’ words portray, “As He did with Mary, Jesus comes to us not as a general idea or an imagined ghostly figure, but as a presence that reaches beyond our mind’s overt powers of knowing and touches our lives in ways we cannot see. They are felt – tasted, touched, smelled, heard, seen in image, and as such, often as unconscious as they are visceral. God is known in the muscle memory of our tissue, in the turn of lip in that garden smile…God’s coming unfolds in the world of our emotions and deepest dispositions – a mark of God’s presence that can sense that the world suddenly shifts into place and has meaning.” If you are feeling alone and forgotten today, why not turn around for your Lord is loose and at large on your behalf and mine!
“And I will give you the treasures of darkness…that you may know that it is I, the Lord, Who calls you by your name.”
Isaiah 45: 3
“Another Voice and Form is nigh,
The angel’s words are heard again.
Arrested by the strange refrain,
She turns her round to make reply.
‘Mary!’ – the name pronounced: Can this
Be but a fevered dream of night?
Some vision vain that mocks her sight
And only leaves her comfortless?
‘Rabboni!’ ‘Master!’ straight she cries
‘At Thy dear feet I trembling fall.
O more than glad return, for all
My poor but faithful ministries.’
‘Last at the cross, first at the tomb’-
The honored one who earliest heard
The tidings of a risen Lord:
And bore them thence to Christendom.”
J. R. MacDuff
He Knows My Name
“I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in His hands
He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And He hears me when I call
I have a Father
He calls me His own
He’ll never leave me
No matter where I go
He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And He hears me when I call.”
(For some extra encouragement today, you can go to YouTube and have the blessing of hearing “He Knows My Name” sung by the Maranatha singers.)
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus