For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchreThere is a distinct message in these verses. Until our eyes are fixed on the resurrection of Christ we have the tendency to keep looking into the sepulchre, the things of death, instead of having our eyes taken off of the circumstances and the things of this life and looking to the power of the resurrection of Christ, which raises us above the things of this life. We are raised above the things of darkness and we look unto the living God. Mary and the disciples had all witnessed the crucifixion of Christ, however, until we obtain a right understanding of His resurrection, His crucifixion has less meaning. The importance of the cross is not to be slighted because thereby the justice of Christ was satisfied, but it does not stop there. It is a milestone to our deliverance. The cross of Christ is the way sin is removed, and we become reconciled with God. However, if Christ had remained in the grave, Peter would have never known what it is to be forgiven of forsaking Jesus. We read in Romans 4:23-25: "Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." Our consolation is in Him who raised up Jesus from the dead. Our justification was purchased by His death, but it was sealed by His resurrection. When we look to His resurrection we begin to live above the things of death. Mary Magdalene's heart overflowed with love for Jesus, as she knew Him in the flesh-for all He had done for her, but she had not yet learned the fullness of salvation. Notice Luke 8:1-2: "And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils." We must not have our joy settle in the benefits we receive from Jesus. Our joy must be in the Person of Christ. There are seven steps of discovery to receive the knowledge of a resurrected Jesus. 1. Our Perspective Changes First, as long as we have our eyes fixed on present circumstances, our whole world caves in and anxiety reigns. When the Lord comes with His blessings in our soul, our circumstances do not change, but our perspective changes. We read in John 20:1-2: "The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him." Her love moved her to come to the tomb of Jesus. However, all she saw was an empty tomb. She did not realize He had been resurrected. If we cannot see beyond the death of Christ to His resurrection, we still have emptiness in our hearts. In a resurrected Christ, we find full freedom and joy in believing. Even while coming "when it was yet dark" her soul was filled with anxiety, yet her love for Jesus was as a vehement flame, even the waters of despair could not drown it. In Luke 7:44-48 we read: "And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon [who had a form of godliness-but denied the power thereof], Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven." Jesus uses the example of Mary to show Simon how she demonstrated her love by her attitude and actions. The Lord looks at our heart, but if our love ends in a crucified Christ, then we never come to that full deliverance and joy that there is in salvation. We have to see that in the resurrected Christ. We read in Romans 6:4-13: "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God." That is being raised together with Jesus, that we start coming above the things of this life. This is living in the resurrected Christ. Mary showed her love by her actions and attitudes, by her walk of life. This is where we come to the full assurance of our pardon. In the resurrected Lord, we come to where sin has no power over us. 2. We Find Jesus at Times of Disappointments and Difficulties Second, looking after a dead Christ leaves nothing but disappointment. We read in John 20:10-13: "Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him." The disciples who looked in, saw the tomb empty and went home, missed what Mary experienced. They did not see the two angels sitting there. When we go searching for a dead Jesus we are going to find an empty tomb. When we tend to look for Jesus in the wrong places we find nothing but emptiness. It is so common to seek Jesus in the way of encouragement, but we find Him in times of discouragement. We read in John 20:13-16: "And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master." Such disappointment is of God's appointment. Encouragement comes in disappointment. We often find in our greatest struggles that Jesus is walking with us. Healing shows up in sickness, and we learn how His grace is sufficient for us is our difficulties. This is how the Lord shows us that we need Him and makes Himself precious. Matthew 15:22 says, "And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil." Sickness brought her to her Lord. We look for healing when there is sickness. We learn to see that sin is a grievous spiritual disease, and we seek spiritual healing from the Lord. See how that disappointment came before encouragement. We read in verses 23 and 24: "But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Do you see why we cannot rely on the doctrines of election and say, Well, if I am saved, I am saved. She was not discouraged when He said He was not sent to her. Without a felt knowledge of the disease whereby we are emptied of everything of self there is no need for healing. Continuing in verses 25 and 26 we read: "Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not right to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs." Many times we will find that the shortest prayers are the most powerful. Once, when I was at my wit's end and I had no knowledge of what to ask for, all I could say was, "Lord, help me." This is the point the woman of Canaan came to. See the depth of discouragement that preceded deliverance. She had no hope of election, no hope of being of the promised seed, no hope of anything. All she could do was worship Him and say, Lord help me. Answers to our problems show up in the extremity of our difficulties. This is the way the Lord leads us to a risen Saviour and weans us from self. We read in verses 27 and 28: "And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters? table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour." She confessed herself to be a dog unworthy of the children?s bread but she asked for a crumb. 3. Sorrow Third is sorrow: Mary stood as one bound by the cords of love to that empty tomb while Peter and John came, looked and returned home. They went home unfulfilled. This is the way many people come to church. They come empty, and they go home empty because they are not earnest enough seeking blessing for their soul. Mary was not satisfied with the empty tomb. She wanted her Lord. Our eyes can become so blinded with sorrow as we wait at an empty tomb that we do not see our Lord Jesus while He is speaking with us. Many times our Lord is speaking with us and walking with us, but our eyes are withheld and we do not see that it is Him. Notice this in Luke 24:13-17: "And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?" Just as with Mary, they saw Him but did not recognize Him. Many times the Lord enters a dialog with us in our hearts, and He reasons with our logic, and He tries to get us to understand that the logic of our thinking is wrong. We read in Isaiah 1:12-20: "When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it." The Lord wants us to reason with Him. He wants us to understand why we ask and He will not hear, that our religion is an abomination to Him if we have this type of attitude toward our brother. 4. Mistaking What We See Fourth is mistaking what we see. It is possible to become so overwhelmed with our imaginary loss that we fail to recognize Christ in the very trial. So often we may see but not understand what we see. Mary saw Jesus but did not understand who He was. We read in John 20:14-15: "And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away." So often we wonder why others are doing certain things to us, and we do not realize that they are instruments in the hand of God to bring us in a right attitude before God. The disciples mistook Jesus to be a stranger as He was walking with them and teaching them concerning Himself. We read in Luke 24:25-29: "Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them." The Lord speaks with us and reproves us, but we do not see that it is Jesus talking to us. 5. We start to understand who Christ is when we see Him as a resurrected Christ Fifth, we discover it is a living, resurrected Christ who is speaking through His Word and providence. Now we understand where Christian liberty is found, to be delivered from all these things that vex us in this life. John 20:16 says: "Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master." After He said her name, her whole understanding did a complete about face. The eyes of her understanding were opened and she saw that this was Jesus that she was talking to. His disciples were equally amazed when Jesus revealed that it was He who had been speaking with them all the while. Look at Luke 24:30-32: "And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" Sometimes our hearts burn and our consciences smite us when the Lord speaks to us out of His Word. Sometimes, the resurrected Christ leads us in our hearts and we do not recognize it. The disciples? joy was not filled until they saw the resurrected Christ. We start to understand who Christ is when we see Him as a resurrected Christ. The Words of Christ gained Mary?s attention when He called her by name. Do you know what it is to have Christ call you by your name? Your eyes then become fixed on a living Jesus. In Isaiah 43:1-2 we read: "But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." When verse 1 was made precious in my heart, I saw the Lord in a new dimension. He became a personal Saviour. This takes away all fear of the future. We go through some deep waters in this life, but we have no fear. We now live in a totally different world and we know that a living Saviour is walking with us day by day. No matter what discouragements we have, the Lord will make them right in the end. When Mary called Jesus Master, this meant unconditional surrender to His service. No one who looks to a resurrected Christ finds a powerless Saviour. The deepest longings of the soul are for a relationship with the living God. We need a personal relationship with God. We need that assurance in our soul that a living Christ is walking with us hand in hand. We read in Psalm 42:1-2: "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" We want a resurrected Saviour, one who lifts us above the things of this life. The Lord gives us many blessings, but He wants our hearts. He wants us to unconditionally surrender to His service. 6. A Relationship with or a Saving Knowledge of the Living Saviour Gives Boldness. Sixth, a relationship with or a saving knowledge of the living Saviour gives boldness. We read in John 20:16-17: "Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." Mary gave the first testimony of the risen Christ. She had to go back to the disciples who had gone home empty and proclaim to them that Christ was raised from the dead. Mary wanted to hold onto Jesus physically forever, but now she had to learn to walk by faith and not by sight. Look at 2 Corinthians 5:14-16: "For the love of Christ constraineth [moves on our heart irresistibly] us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more." When we understand a resurrected Christ we no longer live unto ourselves, we live unto Him. Our heart?s desire is to please Him. So many people are concerned about the dos and don?ts, what we can or cannot do, but when we live unto Him we are not concerned about what we may or may not do, we are concerned with what pleases Him. It is just as if you had a child who lived just within the rules of the house or a child who did everything he could to please the parents. This is where we are with our relationship with Christ. Is it our desire to do whatever pleases Him? If your children just tried to please you to make sure they got their inheritance but you could tell that they did not love you, how much inheritance would you give them? Would it not be better for a child to do whatever pleased you and the inheritance never entered their minds? Who would get the inheritance? Can you see how dangerous it is to seize on the death of the Son for the sake of the inheritance? Now we are commanded to boldly lay hold of Him by faith. We read in Hebrews 4:14-16: "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." One time one of my children confided about a temptation he was facing, and I had faced that same temptation too. I was able to understand and help him in this situation. 7. Obedience of Faith Seventh is obedience of faith. After Mary discovered the living Christ, she was given a commission to testify of what she had seen, and she obeyed. This commission is given to all members of the Body of Christ, and that is to testify to our fellow man of what Christ has done for us. We cannot be mum. We are commanded to testify of Him to others. We read in John 20:17-18: "Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her." Jesus told her: I am above the things of this world. I want you above the things of this world, and I want you to testify of this to my and your brethren. We have a family relationship with Him. You and I are also commanded to go forth unto the brethren and to the world and testify of what we have seen of a living Saviour and what He says unto us. We read in Matthew 10:30-33: "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." We deny Him by refusing to testify of Him. The victory Christ obtained for His church is eternal. No one can reverse it. John 10:27-30 says: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one." See the eternal security for those in Christ. As we grow in the knowledge of who we are, we can grow in the knowledge of who Christ is. The Lord Jesus Christ does not reveal Himself to hypocrites or to those who have no desire for Him. He reveals Himself to people like Mary who show their love for Him.
(John 20:9- 11).
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