Tag Archives: Mary of Bethany

Resurrection Sunday: Easter Day Principle Service

Hallelujah, the Lord Is Risen

On this Resurrection Sunday let us, once more, hear the good news:

Alleluia!  The Lord is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

Let us here from those who were first at the scene of this glorious moment:

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.”   (Matthew 28:1-7)

Why did Jesus appear to these women? Why did he not appear to his disciples instead? The women’s testimony was, at first, dismissed by the disciples. What they said was not taken that seriously. From the words of Peter in today’s reading from Acts, we learn that the women were specifically chosen by God to be witnesses of the resurrection:

You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ — he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”   (Acts 10:36-43)

Why did God choose these women? They were just ordinary people. They were just servants to the disciples. (Let us remember who the chief servant of all.) Despite all the hardships and persecution, thee women were faithful to the end. None of us are more special than others. None of us are great. But we have is a great message. It is the most important message in all the world. Accordingly, God choses faithful people proclaim – people who will not shrink back when the going gets tough.

God depends on people who have received the message and taken it into their hearts. The Apostle Paul writes:

But what does it say?

“The word is near you,
    on your lips and in your heart”

(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”   (Romans 10:8-13)

The resurrection is a powerful message. Nevertheless, it is no more powerful than the eagerness of the person to receive it. But people must be given a chance to hear it.  Paul writes:

But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.   (Romans 10:14-17)

We are just ordinary people. But God has called us to be witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus. But we may say that we were not there at the time of the resurrection. That should not stop us from believing. Thomas was there. He was an Apostle. But he did not believe at first. From the Gospel of John we read that the risen Lord spoke to him about us:

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”   (John 20:27-29)

We have not seen, but we have come to believe. We believe because someone else told us about the resurrection and the Holy Spirit confirmed the message within our hearts. And someone else told them.

We have a high calling. It is a calling not to become important. It is a calling to speak an all important message. The psalmist wrote:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his mercy endures for ever.

Let Israel now proclaim,
“His mercy endures for ever.”

The Lord is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.

There is a sound of exultation and victory
in the tents of the righteous:

“The right hand of the Lord has triumphed!
the right hand of the Lord is exalted!
the right hand of the Lord has triumphed!”

I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the Lord.   (Psalm 118:1-2,14-17)

This is our message. That is our calling. Jesus reigns. He will soon return. He is counting on our voice.

From Isaiah:

How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”   (Isaiah 52:7)

Let us spread good news of happiness:

Alleluia!  The Lord is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

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Monday in Holy Week

The Costly Sacrifice

At the beginning of Holy Week we have the example of love and sacrifice of Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus. She understood who Jesus was and what He was about to do, more than many of His disciples:

Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial.  (John 12:3-7)

We may do “good works” by giving to the poor, provided our motives are pure. (Judas Iscariot’s motives were not.) Nevertheless, our good works will not purify us. If we ignore the passion and purpose of Christ we will miss the mark.

When Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!  (Hebrews 9:11-14)

What does our love of Christ cost us? What do we give to Him in return to demonstrate our love? Mary sacrificed all that she had for her Savior. It is not that she purchased His love. She gave out of joy because she already knew that she had His love. Do we know the love of Jesus? The psalmist wrote:

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
    your judgments are like the great deep;
    you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
   All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.  (Psalm 36:5-7)

Jesus sacrifice for us was and is priceless. The sacrifice we may make to him is not necessarily about money, though our financial giving is important. In his psalm of repentance, King David wrote:

For you have no delight in sacrifice;
    if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.   (Psalm 51:16-17)

Our greatest sacrifice is to love the Lord with all our hearts, mind, soul, and strength. Are we willing to sacrifice our will, our right to be right, our independence from God, our selfish pleasure, our very souls? Mary was willing. Nothing was too costly for her to impede her love for Christ She understood what Christ would do for her. The Prophet Isaiah wrote:

I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,
I have taken you by the hand and kept you;

I have given you as a covenant to the people,
a light to the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind,

to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.

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