Summary: A combination Mother's Day message with Mary Magdalene's response to the risen Christ.
Mary Magdalene was devoted to Jesus for what He had done for her. She stuck with Him at the cross, and she watched His body be set in a borrowed grave on Friday afternoon. She and some other ladies went to the grave on Sunday morning, and saw that the stone was rolled away. They fetched the disciples, and Peter and John found the grave empty. Mary was confused about all this, not knowing what had really happened.
So, even though she had doubts, perhaps, and she had fears, certainly, she showed her devotion to her Lord. Now, even though, as far as we know, she was not a mother, today, this being Mother’s Day, we will learn from her devotion. No matter who you are, you can learn from a woman’s devotion. Not devotion to a sport, or a TV show, or a TV personality, but devotion to Jesus. How can we become more devoted to Jesus? Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 11 that he wanted his readers to have a “sincere and pure devotion to Christ”. What does that look like?
For Mary Magdalene, devotion looked like 5 things. The 1st was sorrow. She was crying. She didn’t know what had happened to Jesus’ body. She was sad, broken-hearted even. It had been an emotional couple of days. She had watched her Lord suffer and die. She had watched Him get placed in a grave. And now, He was gone. She was crushed.
Now, I know that the circumstances are different. We didn’t watch Him die except in a skit or a movie. And we believe that He’s alive today. So, where does sorrow fir into our lives today? Sometimes, not enough. When was the last time you felt so bad for your sin that you were broken over it? When was the last time you cried before God because of your sins or your apathy? When was the last time you felt a crushing weight on your chest for the lostness of the people around you? When was the last time you prayed in passion for God to forgive you and to use you? When was the last time you humbled yourself before God and cried out in sorrow for how you’ve ignored Him?
Psalm 51 says this: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Oh yes, there is a place for brokenness, for weeping, and for sorrow in a Christian’s devotion. And it’s a good thing. It’s OK to let God humble you, to stir up emotions, and to be honest and real before Him. Be real before God.
The 2nd thing that Mary Magdalene’s devotion looked like is this: seeking. Jesus showed up. She thought He was the gardener. I know that sounds odd, but 3 times after He rose from the dead, His followers didn’t recognize Him at first. Mary’s concern for the body of Jesus overwhelmed her recognition of the presence of Jesus.
You know, our questions and our doubts and our theological bunny trails often distract us from seeing Jesus in our midst. You probably don’t care that I’m an Arminian with slight leanings towards supersessationalism and New Covenant Theology. You probably don’t care that I’m post-tribulational or maybe even slightly amillenial. And even among them, I don’t fit into theological labels very well. What you care is that I believe in Jesus and that I preach to help you understand how to follow God better. Don’t let arguments or theological wanderings or quibbling over details distract you from seeing Jesus.