When your life hasn’t gone your way, what do you do? The answer can be found in John 20. This takes place after the suffering and death of Jesus. The disciples and women who followed Jesus were in mourning. The disciples plan was for Jesus to become King of Israel on this earth now, to deliver them from any and all oppression of the Romans, to set the Pharisees/Sadducees straight on doctrine, to continue to heal and deliver people from their personal issues. Their plan failed and Jesus died on the cross and was buried in a tomb with a big stone and guards. All their dreams had ended. They were mourning and confused how this happened.
Before we go any further, let’s explore our own lives. Have you ever had a situation where you put everything you had into what you were doing and then suddenly had it all taken away from you?
This is what happened to the disciples. They had it all and were living the dream. Healings and deliverances followed Jesus and His disciples.
- Maybe your dream is a certain job. You are at the top of your game. You are putting everything into what you are doing. You work extra hours to complete all that is before you and you don’t complain because this is what you want to do. You pour 100% of your energy into what you are doing. And suddenly, out of nowhere—it seems—you get fired. Maybe they say it is downsizing, maybe they have another excuse, but those things don’t matter, they have taken away your dream. What do you do?
- Maybe it is your life. Suddenly out of nowhere you have been falsely accused of a horrible crime and your freedom has been taken away from you. You know you are innocent, but it seems no one who is has the power to help you will believe you. You have been framed and suddenly your life is over—or so it seems.
- Maybe it is a relationship that has gone bad. One day you are happily married and what seemed to be overnight you are divorced. Life is hard and you are mourning the loss of the relationship. Or maybe the person you were in a relationship with suddenly died. Your life is filled with grief and suffering because a part of you is missing. You don’t know where to turn.
I believe that most of us have suffered great losses in our life, whether the losses were people who are no longer with us, or jobs or our reputation. They are all losses. What matters when we experience a loss is how we react. What can we do?
Lets look at John 20:1 “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.”
Mary had unfinished business that she was going to do at the first opportunity. So she went to the tomb early so she could put the embalming oils and spices on Jesus’ body. She had a purpose that was brought on by the death of Jesus. But she couldn’t complete her duty. Her purpose had not changed since Jesus’ death. She was still serving Him as she did when He was alive. This was to be her last act of worship of her savior. Honestly she wasn’t sure how she was going to get the stone moved when she got there. And then she saw that was not a problem, the stone was rolled away. Good, one problem solved, but now there was no body. How could she complete her duty, if there was no body?
Verse 2: “Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.’”
Ok. She overcame the stone obstacle. Now she has gone for help to overcome the missing body obstacle. Do you ever have days like this? You know it is going to be rough and then things just keep getting worse. You have your heart set on finishing well even though things have ended abruptly and not in the way you planned. You set out to finish, but someone changes the game. Suddenly your plans once again have been rendered useless. What do you do?
Mary goes for help from some people who are in the same condition she is. Maybe she thinks they will be able to figure this out better than her. It is great to get advice and help when you are in a situation that has really thrown you out of your comfort zone. But you need to look outside the area of people who are experiencing the same thing you are.
In verses 3-10 her help comes and goes. They came, they saw and they left. They gave her no explanation and no help in finding Jesus’ body. She found herself, once again standing and weeping. Do you ever get into that position? You are confused and grieving. All the people that come around you offer you no real help, they just come and go. They seem to be just as confused as you are. They bring no comfort into your situation. You are once again left by yourself to weep and wonder.
Look at Verses 11:-18. But Mary decided not to just weep; she decided to look inside the tomb. She looked to the last place she knew her savior had been seen. And when she sought, she found her answer. Mary tried to get help from people, but they left her short of her answer. So in her wondering and wandering she stumbled onto the answer. She didn’t know that looking into the tomb would answer her question.
She saw the angels and explained her problem to them; someone had taken her Lord’s body. And as she turned she found her answer. Jesus didn’t tap her on the shoulder. He made no move to call her to Himself. But she turned and saw Him. Sometimes we need to go where we know God was last time to get our bearings and then turn in order to find where God is now. Looking to the past will not always take you to the future, but if you retrace your steps and then turn you can go the right way.
She didn’t recognize Jesus when she turned. She was so focused on finding His dead body she didn’t recognize His live body. She didn’t even recognize His voice. (Jesus said my sheep know my voice. She was so distraught that she didn’t recognize the voice of her master. She was not expecting His voice—but the voice of a gardener.) So she asks if He has removed the body. Now Jesus must reveal Himself to her, he sees her anguish and her confusion—to the point of not recognizing Him. (John 10:4 &27)
Sometimes we get so confused that we cannot recognize the Lord when He stands right in front of us. We let the fact that our plans have been destroyed send us into such anguish on how we will accomplish our goals that we don’t see Jesus in our midst.
I have been in this position. It is very difficult to find your way when this happens. You cry out to your friends because the pain you feel is so intense. They come around, look and leave. They may say a few words, but they can’t remove the pain and anguish. They don’t help you navigate through the confusion. Your mind gets so caught up in what your plans were that you can’t see Jesus, even though He is standing right aside of you. You cry out and weep and mourn because the old is gone. You cannot see the possible good of the new. All you can do is look at the past, when things were the way you wanted them to be. Now things just hurt and you feel disappointed. You used to feel appointed—anointed and set in place, but now that is over. You just hurt and you turn from person to person to try to get your bearings on life. But life keeps sending you into more confusion.
Then comes the moment in verse 16 when Jesus says her name, “Mary.” This makes all the difference in the world. The confusion is gone. She found what she was looking for, but now her sorrow and confusion has turned into joy, unbelievable joy. Personal recognition from the Master changed her whole perspective and brought her out of her confusion. She had a clear direction. She spoke “Rabboni” which acknowledged that she recognized Him. Then she clung on to Him for dear life. She wasn’t about to lose Him again.
Encouragement from others and prophetic words that confirmed what I felt in my spirit, let me know that I was hearing God’s voice. All the confusion in the world is gone when God speaks. When Mary heard Jesus, her heart melted. Then Jesus gave her clear direction on her next step. There was to be no doubt in her mind what to do. Jesus made sure He gave her specific directions. She had been confused and lost but now she knew exactly what to do.
It is time to clear the cob webs from our minds and hear the voice of God. He has never left us or forsaken us (Hebrews 13:5). He has been right by our side all the time. Today is the time for the confusion to leave and the voice of the Lord to come. One word from the Lord will drive away all confusion. We must remember that the plan that we live by must be His plan. If we live by a plan that we conceive we will end up in confusion. Jesus is the Lord, we are His servants. Servants do not tell the Lord what to do, the Lord tells the servants. Mary may have had her plan, but that was not what Jesus’ plan was. Jesus plan had to do with life; Mary’s plan was contingent on there being a dead body.
God’s plan always has to do with life. God’s plan has to do with abundant life. Abundant life is multidimensional it includes body, soul and spirit.
Join me in this prayer. Father today, this moment in time, we want to give up our plans and take on your plan for our lives. We acknowledge that any plan that was not birthed in your Spirit is not a plan of life but a plan of death. We ask that you give us clear direction and life. Forgive us for our failed plans. Help us to walk in your strength and peace. Forgive us for walking only in our strength. Lead us in your path and open our eyes to your direction. We pray this in the mighty name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Amen.
Enjoy your week and I will be back next week with more.