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Can you remember a moment when Jesus called you by name? How did you feel?

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Bible passage John 20:11–18

11but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

 13They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?"

   "They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him." 14At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

 15"Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?"
      Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."

 16Jesus said to her, "Mary."
      She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).

 17Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' "

 18Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

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The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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Overwhelming grief
Today we encounter more stomach-churning emotion. Yesterday we saw three people running around the garden, now there is one grief-stricken figure standing still and weeping. When Peter and John went home, Mary’s instinct was to stay, and in staying she comes face to face with a gardener.

Her tears, and maybe the changed appearance of Jesus, blind her to the truth of who she is facing until Jesus speaks her name. With that one word her world is turned upside down. It’s Jesus, her master (v 16).

Healing joy
So it is that Jesus breaks through the turmoil of our emotions, and especially our times of grief, and calls us by name. It is for you he died and rose and he comes to dry your tears.

In the garden Mary’s desire is to hold him and freeze the joyful moment, but Jesus gently releases her and tells her to share her joy with the other disciples; to tell them the astonishing news that now, like Jesus, they can call God their Father. Easter has made them part of the family of God.

How like Jesus to make Mary, a despised member of society, the first witness to the resurrection and the first missionary of the church.


Is there someone you know to whom you can say today, in your own way, ‘I have seen the Lord?’

David Bracewell

Deeper Bible study

Praise God! In the midst of events that turn the world upside down, he still calls us by name.

Mary returned, overwhelmed with grief. Emboldened, perhaps, by Peter and the other disciple, she dared to look inside the tomb and saw what the other two had not: two angels. She noticed their appearance. They were not dressed as mourners, but in white! And their question was not what one would expect when a close friend has just died. (The address, ‘Woman’, translates what would in that culture have been a term of respect.) Something very odd had happened, but Mary was distressed and was no doubt worn out with sleeplessness. All she could do was articulate her confusion.

What follows is one of the most electric moments in all literature and indeed in all history. Stop for a moment and put yourself in Mary’s position. Would you be prepared for this? It is noteworthy that when Jesus appears after the resurrection his friends often don’t recognise him until he chooses to reveal himself1. In every case, he makes himself known in some symbolically meaningful action (John 21:6,7; Luke 24:30,31). In this case he speaks her name. Stop and imagine what that would be like.

Jesus comes to every one of us individually and personally. As Christians we don’t believe in the resurrection merely as a theological concept. We believe because we have had an encounter with the risen Lord, who has spoken to us by name. He has taken away our tears and our fear. He has filled us with joy and energy. It does not stop there. He told Mary to carry the news of his resurrection to the disciples. The very fact that the first witness was a woman bears testimony to the historical accuracy of John’s account. Women were not traditionally considered reliable witnesses. He has commissioned us all with tasks to which we are uniquely suited.

Annabel Robinson


1 An explanation for this phenomenon is hinted at in 1 Corinthians 15:35–49

Bible background: Mary Magdalene

● Her name probably indicates that she originated from Magdala on the western shore of Lake Galilee.

● Jesus freed her from seven demons, and she travelled with him and the twelve, giving financial and practical support (Luke 8:1–3).

● She was present at the crucifixion, watching from a distance (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40).

● She was with Joseph of Arimathea and Jesus’ mother when they buried Jesus (Matthew 27:61; Mark 15:47).

● She set out early in the morning with other women to anoint Jesus’ body (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1; John 20:1).

● She was one of the first to see the empty tomb and carry the news back to the disciples who did not believe her story (Luke 24:1–12; John 20:1,2).

● Staying behind in the Garden after the others had left she later met with the risen Lord (John 20:10–18), failing to recognise him at first. When she tried to cling to him, Jesus explained that in future she would experience his presence in a new way.

● She has been identified with the sinful woman of Luke 7:36–50 and therefore as a prostitute. This results from confusing the different accounts of Jesus having his feet washed (Matthew 26:6–13; Mark 14:3–9; John 12:1–8). For John 12 and Luke 7 to refer to the same incident, and for Mary of Bethany therefore to be the sinful woman of Luke 7 is highly unlikely. For Mary of Bethany to be Mary Magdalene is even more unlikely. Mary was a common name.

● More unlikely still is the idea, popularised by Dan Brown, and derived from a questionable second century document, that she and Jesus were lovers. Sensational press reports in 2012 about Mary as Jesus’ wife were based on a later papyrus fragment which has been discredited. For more detail see http://www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/ReJesusWife.

Bible in a year

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Judges 15,16

Mark 5

Guardians of Ancora

Have you played the new Bible story App game, Guardians of Ancora? Mary's meeting with the resurrected Jesus is part of the featured story of 'Jesus is Alive!' – why don't you check it out for yourself!

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See what a morning (Resurrection hymn)
Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2003 Thankyou Music
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.kingswayshop.com

All for love
Mia Fieldes
Copyright © 2005 Mia Fieldes/Hillsong Publishing/kingswaysongs.com
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.kingswayshop.com

  • Rachael Hampton | Sunday, 16 April 2017

    I have a lot of time for gardeners, but - a gardener!!! Lying cold, torn and battered in the grave clothes, Jesus' body was transfigured. Perhaps, as Max Lucado describes it, cell by cell healing took place and the mighty Spirit of God did His greatest work since creation. Like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, Jesus was completely transformed. A body that had no substance - it could pass through solid matter, like grave clothes, and doors, and yet it looked so ordinary that even His dearest friends didn't know Him. But come on! Jesus has just won the greatest victory of all time; He is triumphant, glorious, all of Heaven is wild with joy, surely He should be glowing like the sun, surrounded by rainbows, white horses and myriads of rejoicing angels. Instead, He comes to those he loves in a form they will relate to. He speaks our name. He says, 'my Dad is your Dad, let's do this life together.' O Jesus, is it any wonder we love You?!

  • Adam Julians | Monday, 17 April 2017

    Haha yes Jesus is not all fluffy clouds and unicorns - he does relate to humanity in the way humanity needs and with grace. And he is worthy to be praised. Mary in her emotional state goes from sadness to wanting to cling to Jesus. But Jesus has a job for her to do. She is to go and tell the people he calls his brothers that he is risen. We share the same father as Jesus and can be at one with him and the father just as he prayed that others be at one with that father as he is. Jesus has empathy for Mary in asking why she is crying but he doesn't pander to her emotions. He gives her instruction that would take her courage to do. What would be the response of the "brothers". Would they treat Mary as insane or getting above herself as a woman telling men. She must face any fear she would have about that. So for her what she went through had been pain, *the emotional grieving and maybe even anger) and the need to face fear in obedience. Just as Jesus had faced the agony of the cross and the anxiety in Gethsemane in knowing the calling he had in obedience to the Father's will. As has rightly been said in the commentary here in recent days, following Christ is not an easy path. But also as the commentary rightly says today enduring pain produces character and facing fear courage. With these, in surprising ways God can usher in healing and joy. Taking away tears and fear and filling with joy and energy indeed! Awesome stuff!

  • Angela Munday | Monday, 17 April 2017

    Jesus appears when least expected and whispers our name. In that moment, like Mary, we are able to reply "Teacher".........Jesus will not accuse or deceive us; He always speaks the truth and will be the light for our path. Mary ran with joy in her heart to tell others the good news........ROGER, thank you for your comment last evening. Amen.

  • Jane Hill | Monday, 17 April 2017

    My sister's baptism was truly an amazing experience for her. Thank you for your prayers. I still have DVT so couldn't go but she was well supported by my siblings and families. Her sadness was that none of her sons went but we pray on. What a wonderful week of readings and comments. Thank you all.

  • Angela Munday | Monday, 17 April 2017

    JANE - What wonderful news about your sister's baptism; what joy! Praying now for you too as you receive treatment for DVT. May God's presence be with you and your sister at this time. Amen.

  • Derek Forster | Monday, 17 April 2017

    All the way my savior leads me; What have I to ask beside? Can I doubt His tender mercy, Who thro’ life has been my guide? heav’nly peace divinest comfort, Here by faith in Him to dwell! For I know whate’er befall me, Jesus does all things well; For I know whate’er befall me, Jesus does all things well;

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Monday, 17 April 2017

    The first evangelist was a woman. I wonder when it was first decided that this should be male only domain?

  • Adam Julians | Monday, 17 April 2017

    If we are discussing evangelism Gilvin we can consider the man with a Legion of spirits posessing him that Jesus cast into pigs or the woman at the well that Jesus revealed himself to be the water of life to. Also I would ask whether these accounts are evangelicalism, being a witness or both. The issue of women in ministry is a hot topic. And one to be entered into discussion with caution and sensitivity bearing in mind the scriptures where Jesus for example healed the Canaanite woman's daughter of demon posession and counted her as a woman of great faith where he found little faith among his own people. And have in balance what the apostle Paul wrote about not suffering a woman to teach or have authority over a man. All scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking and correcting. We don't get to pick and choose one part of Scripture over another to suit our unconscious bias.

  • Teresa Ballard | Monday, 17 April 2017

    VALERIE - thank you for pointing us/me in the direction of Julie Sharp's Easter Story - Morning. Mary's monologues were beautifully written and acted out so realistically; they really were very moving and very definitely worth listening to.

  • Teresa Ballard | Monday, 17 April 2017

    Praise the Lord that He called my name...that heart-stopping moment of clarity when you hear His voice and turn to see Jesus, and you know the distance between your head and your heart has been closed; you know in that instant that you have been made whole, been made in to a new creation, been touched by the LIVING Lord - alleluia! https://youtu.be/5m--ptwd_iI

  • Barbara Sabin | Monday, 17 April 2017

    Jesus spoke my name and showed me his hands. I have never been the same woman since then Praise be to Jesus. Jesus did not marginalise women he included them. Peter was a married man, Philip had daughters with him in the ministry, My mentor always said 'follow Jesus not Paul' Lydia was the first European minister with a group of people by the river, is her ministry any less important ? Christ is alive he raises up women and men to 'go and tell' and a woman was the first. Women and men, in age and youth, can feel the Spirit, hear the call, and find the way, the life, the truth, revealed in Jesus, freed for all.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Monday, 17 April 2017

    You didn't mention it was the culture of the time ADAM. A woman's testimony wasn't valid in those days. Wasn't it only a 100 years ago or less that women were chattels?

  • Adam Julians | Monday, 17 April 2017

    Gilvin That's interesting that you should mention the culture of the time. The culture of our time is of equality come cultural Marxism where women are perceived victims and men perceived as oppressors. Therefore that must not take precedent just as the oppression of women must not be permitted. If the bible is to have meaning ( and it does) then it is to speak to all cultures at all times. If what you say is true that a woman's testimony was not valid then why do you think Jesus sent Mary to speak to his brothers about him? We must allow scripture to read out and not read into it lest we deny it's power. Barbara, your mentor was right to say follow Jesus not Paul. Paul in his own words says the same thing at the beginning of the first book of Corinthians when he say that some say they are followers of Paul, some of Apollus etc and this should not be. At the same time all of scripture is useful and to dismiss parts of pastoral letters that Paul wrote because they are difficult to read (as some have done) is inconsistent with being a person of faith. Clearly there is not man no woman for all are one in Christ (Gal 3:28) but there are differences between men and women. We know that some have interpreted scriptures to mean that leadership is a male role and others that leadership is for both men and women equally. And this has been the cause of much division within the body of Christ when egos and unconscious biases get involved. Whatever the reality is about leadership and gender, Jesus said that if you desire leadership you must be a servant of all. And primarily this must be where the preference is placed.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Monday, 17 April 2017

    I expect it could be ADAM that Jesus chose a woman to be the first evangelist so that eventually the penny would drop with mere mortals that women were to be as valued as men.

  • Adam Julians | Monday, 17 April 2017

    Gilvin, perhaps Mary was the first evangelist. Perhaps she wasn't and perhaps she was chosen to witness for reasons already given. On the issue being valued as men then what you say is consistent with Jesus coming to release the oppressed. However, there is no clear indication that this was Jesus' objective on this occasion and it wouldn't make sense for him to commission Mary to testify in the context of a woman's testimony not being valid. A better example of a woman being valued by Jesus would be the account he gave when his feet were being washed by a woman's tears and dried with her hair when she was being looked down on as being a so called sinner and he held her up as an example of someone who loved in the context of the one criticising her not giving Jesus the customary hospitality.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Monday, 17 April 2017

    BARBARA I agree with you regarding women in ministry. ADAM, our discussion proves we can see things from a different perspective amicably.Thank you

  • Kenneth Williams | Monday, 17 April 2017

    For me it is a most glorious event to image. Jesus has conquered death..... and I could too. Thank you Jesus for what you have done.

  • Adam Julians | Monday, 17 April 2017

    Gilvin thank you too. Always a pleasure to wrestle with you with scripture as sister sharpens brother.

  • Barbara Sabin | Monday, 17 April 2017

    We have travelled through the weeks of Lent with the anticipation of the praising and palm waving of the entrance into Jerusalem, the anger of the cleansing of the temple, the dread and sadness of the arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane and the gloom and sorrow of Good Friday, the resting of the Sabbath day and the Hallelujahs and happiness of the spring in the step of Easter Day. We have travelled with Jesus and the disciples and seen ourselves in each one of them. Today we have the joy of the risen presence of Jesus in our hearts. Marching on in the light of God ,Marching on, I am marching on; Up the path that the Master trod, Marching, marching on. A robe of white, a crown of gold, A harp, a home, a mansion fair, A victor's palm, a joy untold, Are mine when I get there. For Jesus is my Saviour, he's washed my sins away, Died for me on Calvary's mountain; I'm happy in his wondrous love, singing all the day I'm living, yes, I'm living in the fountain.

  • Lynda Spencer | Monday, 17 April 2017

    On Saturday, anticipating yesterday, we prayed for all services in all churches around the world where people might be in attendance for Easter who normally don't attend church. In our Family Service we had several extra people present, single people, older folk, young families with children, grandparents with grandchildren ..... It was wonderful to see so many and to have the privilege of sharing with them the good news that Jesus is alive. Many took away the free literature we offered, and there were some encouraging discussions over tea/coffee and snacks. No-one was in a hurry to leave. We praise and thank God for all the encouragements of yesterday, and continue to pray for all those who came. So glad to hear of your sister's baptism, JANE. The Lord bless and keep you all.

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