by Grace Hunter

In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 

The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. John 1:4-9 NIV

But Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “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 toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). John 20:11-16 NIV


John introduces several of his themes in the first 20 verses in the book of John. In John 1:4-9, He introduces Jesus as the light of the world, one of his main themes. Alex spoke on light this week and he used John 20:1-19 as his text. Mary Magdalene was grieving because Jesus — her light, her savior, her healer —
was crucified on Friday. Now, early on Sunday she couldn’t even find his body. John tells us she went to the grave early, when it was still dark. It can be difficult to sleep when grief is new and fresh. Perhaps she did not sleep well and that is why she went to the grave before dawn on Sunday morning.

Mary Magdalene encountered the risen Lord but did not recognize Him. She talked with Him but didn’t know who He was. Grief, darkness, fear can do the same thing — it can block our ability to see, hear, and feel the presence of God. Imagine a young child in the dark — it can be scary to children. But if a father or mother is there in the dark with the child, then fear probably is removed; the presence of the adult takes fear away.

When we are grieving in a difficult circumstance, in a dark place, we also can be consumed by fear: we can feel hopeless, we can be consumed by dark thoughts. The resurrection had occurred, but Mary Magdalene could not perceive it or access it when she did not recognize Jesus’ presence. Have you experienced this? David certainly did. Let’s look at Psalm 18.

I love you, O LORD, my strength.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and I am saved from my enemies.

The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.

The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called to the LORD ;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears. Psalm 18:1-6 NIV

David describes a dark, fearful episode in his life. He is overwhelmed, scared, perhaps alone. But he brings it to God, he asks for God’s help Who provides refuge and deliverance for David. God is David’s refuge and safe place — just as a parent can be for a child in the dark. The Psalm continues to describe difficult circumstances and many ways that God enabled David to stand, fight and endure. Has God done this for you at a difficult place in your life? If you are there now, perhaps pray Psalm 18. Ask for God to make His presence known to you in a way you can feel it, know it and experience it, as David did. Be encouraged;
once Mary heard her name spoken by the risen Jesus, she knew she was in the presence of her Lord, and it made all the difference. God’s presence with you in your circumstances can make the difference for you too. 

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