Posted by: Heather | January 29, 2009

Called by name

Tonight in our family devotions, we read John chapter 20. It is the story of the resurrected Lord. I have read it many times, and it never ceases to be an encouragement to me. However, tonight I recognized myself in an unlikely place in the story.

The story starts with Mary Magdalene coming to the tomb at dawn. But she finds the tomb empty and runs back to find Peter and “the other disciple” (generally thought to be John, the author of the book) She tells them of her problem and they race back to the tomb. They both examine it and leave in various states of confusion. Mary, however, stays at the tomb distraught and weeping. She looks into the tomb and sees two men in white asking her why she seeks the living among the dead. She says that someone has moved the body of her Lord, and she doesn’t know where to find it. Then she sees Jesus, but assumes he is the gardener. He asks her, “Woman, why are you weeping, whom do you seek?” She replies by asking him where he put the body, and offers to go retrieve it. Then He calls her by name.

I have never put myself in Mary’s shoes before. But how many times am I like her? She is obviously still devoted to her Lord, even though she believes it is all over. She is defeated, but still totally absorbed in her devotion to her Lord. I have to admire her devotion. Then things turn out differently than she expected them to. She immediately turns to those who know more than she does, and asks for their help. They rush to her aid, but wind up as confused as she is and wander away in confusion. This leaves her alone again absorbed in her problem. Someone points out to her what she is missing, but she is so absorbed in her own assumptions that she totally misses what they said. Then God himself comes to her, and she still misses that He is alive. Finally, He calls her by name and she sees the truth.

How many times I have been defeated in my heart, but still pressing on. How many of those times I have asked for help from those I respect, and they try to help, yet I find myself alone with my problem. I open the scriptures and try to academically ascertain the solution to my problem. But miss the point the whole time because I am looking for a dry, dead, impersonal answer. And then God answers, but I brush him away because the answer is so alive I don’t expect it. However, my loving Father does not turn away, the Answer calls me by my name.

I serve a living Saviour! The thrill of having God call me by my name never grows dull. But so many times my senses are dulled because I am seeking the living among the dead. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying Scripture is dead. Far from it. However my search of the scripture is sometimes dead. I recall Jesus’ exasperated statement to the Pharisees:

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life. And they are the ones witnessing of Me, and you will not come to Me that you might have life.
(John 5:39-40)

I am so thankful that God breaks through my dead search to show me my living Lord.

We are almost finished studying the Gospel of John, and this time through I have been impressed by Jesus’ personal interaction with people. I first noticed it with Nathanial. I don’t understand the interchange about Jesus seeing him under the tree, but Nathanial did, and it caused him to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus spoke directly to his heart. Then I see it with Nicodemus. Then I see it with the woman at the well. Jesus knew exactly what to say to get directly to her heart. I even see it in the conversation with Pilate. Everyone Jesus talks to in the gospel of John has to make a choice about where they are in their hearts. Some reply by washing their hands of him. Others become angry and vicious toward him. Others say “where else would we go? You have the words of life!”

He who has the words of life calls me by name. Has he ever called you?




  1. Thanks for the kind words on my blog, and for you and your wife’s comments on my comments on Generation Cedar. Thanks also for the offer of prayer, I can use it. God bless, Mark

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