Resurrection by Mikhail Vrubel, 1887.
Last Sunday was Easter Sunday and signaled the official ending of Lent and the beginning of the Easter Season which runs from Easter Sunday to Pentecost. Much like Christmas, in the Christian calendar the season of Easter continues beyond the actual day. Rather than getting sucked into the commercial calender where once the holiday is passed all symbols of the season are removed and we are pushed to move on to the next thing, the Christian calender calls us to exist in the season and remember that our lives are continually changed because of what happened on Easter. Easter is a game changer and it’s effects last well beyond Easter Sunday. Let’s look at a passage from the resurrection account in the Gospel of John.
Mary stood outside near the tomb, crying. As she cried, she bent down to look into the tomb. She saw two angels dressed in white, seated where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and one at the foot. The angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
She replied, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put him.” As soon as she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabbouni” (which means Teacher).
Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Then she told them what he said to her.
John 20:11-18 (CEB)
Like I said before, Easter is a game changer. There is a cosmic shift when Jesus comes out of the tomb. The powers, authorities and rules that dominated the world up to that point were defeated and the life of Jesus was vindicated. Sin was put on notice and those who thought they had triumphed over the challenges of Christ had been proven wrong. They tried to silence Jesus and commit him to the fickle memory of history. Once in the grave he would be forgotten and nameless. Easter Sunday wrecks their plans. As Paul tells us:
“Therefore, God highly honored him and gave him a name above all names, so that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:9-11 (CEB)
This is all well and good and this is pretty much what we sang about this past Sunday. However, there is a nugget of truth that the resurrection story reveals that I think we miss.
Jesus calls Mary by her name.
Jesus is glorified and given a great name that will not be lost in the fog of history, but in that his followers also are promised to not be lost to time, history and death. In the resurrection, one of the biggest cosmic shifts is that in Christ our lives are given new meaning, purpose and identity.
In Christ, we matter.
In the body of Christ, we have a purpose.
When Christ sees us, he knows our name.
Knowing somebody’s name is a great honor and can be very powerful. Marketing and sales people have known this for years. Getting someone’s name and using it regularly creates a sense of relationship that can open up further opportunities. Knowing someone’s name, or allowing somebody to know yours, opens up the channels for a deeper relationship that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Often, the world, sin and death want to strip us of our identities and unique presence in the world. People are made into statistics, national identity becomes a check box and children are sacrificed for ideologies.
In the resurrection, we all have names, we all have individual value, those who are in Christ participate in the reforming and restoration of a world cracked and spoiled by sin.
In the resurrection, we are not forgotten, those who are in Christ are known.
“But those who did welcome him,
those who believed in his name,
he authorized to become God’s children.”
John 1:12 (CEB)
As Jesus called Mary by name, so to is it God’s desire to know us and call us by name. Because God seeks to know us as his children, to know our names and our stories, we should desire to know others and to enter relationship with others. To know them, give them an identity and welcome them into the restored post-Easter community of God.
To know and be known by the hopeless.
To know and be known by those who grieve.
To know and be known by the humble.
To know and be known by those who are hungry and thirsty.
To know and be known by the merciful.
To know and be known by the pure in heart.
To know and be known by the peacemakers.
To know and be known by the harassed.
To know and be known by the insulted and falsely accused.