Overarching theme: Living a year in God’s presence through the practice of following Jesus.
Core Point: A name is important for the deepening of a relationship. The hearing and saying of a name helps a person know she or he is real and somebody.
Start point: Gospel overview: The Gospel of John was the last narrative written out of the four Gospels, sometime after 70 A.D. and before 90 A.D. The Gospel narratives were probably written to help people remember the story from actual witnesses. Most likely, decades after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the stories about Jesus had morphed into half-truths. Each Gospel had many similar stories but with a unique perspective from the eye witness. The Gospel of John emphasized Jesus as the Christ and Son of God. The people that received this writing were Christians who were struggling with the influence of the Jews who did not see Jesus as the Christ. So the writer was encouraging them to see Jesus as the divine one who came from God the Father. The first chapter highlights the idea that Jesus was pre-existent (verses 1:1-14).
Reflect on this Scripture:
John 20:11-18 (NRSV)
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
Questions to Ponder:
What jumps out at you in the text?
What is Mary focused on?
What happens when Jesus calls Mary by name?
How do you see the evidence of the divine Christ?
Commentary: Looking at multiple levels.
Let’s focus on Jesus calling on Mary by name. When Jesus called Mary by name, she recognized him. I wonder if it was the familiarity of his voice, or a spiritual happening by the Holy Spirit. Who knows? At any rate, upon hearing her name, there was a change that took place. I think about when I call a cashier by name, or a waiter by name, they seem to take notice and many times smile. Even though I saw their name on the name tag, it would make a difference when I said the name out loud. The saying of someone’s name says that I see you and you are somebody. We all like to be recognized by name, and it helps us to feel a connection to the one using our name. Do you realize that God knows us by name? The relationship between Jesus and Mary is representative of your relationship with God. God knows you by name.
In the text, we can surmise that Mary was heavily grieving the death of Jesus. She was also bewildered that his body was not in the tomb. She was focused on what had happened. She was grieving the death of Jesus and her image of Jesus as the Messiah who was supposed to re-establish the earthly power of Jerusalem for God. In Jesus calling out the name of Mary, he identified her personally and called her to look forward to a new future of hope that was different from her preconceived idea. The next step for Jesus was to reconnect to the Father. The next step for Mary was to realize that Jesus was alive, and go tell everyone. Many times we get stagnated looking at and feeling the past when looking forward can lead us to a promising hope. The Messiah Jesus was and is the spiritual redeemer of the world.
Mary proclaimed to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”, only after Jesus saw her by saying, “Mary.” Being called by your name will lead you to look up and forward. God knows you by name, look up and forward!
Questions to Ponder:
What is in a name?
What does it mean to you that God knows your name?
What are you holding on to that you need to give up?
Or, what are you being called by name to move forward into?
Activity of for the life of a disciple:
1. This week, practice using the name of those who you know and those who serve you. Let them know they are someone to you.
2. Picture your image of Jesus calling you by name on a daily basis.
3. Think on what God may be calling you to let go of so you can look up and move forward.