Question – “What or whom has caused you grief and heartbreak in life?” Some people experience grief as a result of despair. Their dreams or plans have been crushed, and they see no hope for the future. Others have experienced grief as a result of disabilities, division between former friends and loved ones, divorce, or the death of someone they loved dearly. Grief is or will be a part of every person’s life.
Mary in our text was going through grief and heartbreak. This Mary came from Magdala, a town near the Sea of Galilee that was known for its wealth and immorality. Mary had been as notoriously wicked as the town of her birth. She first appears in the gospels with a list of women who had been cured of various diseases, and we learn that she herself had been delivered from demonic oppression. After experiencing the healing and delivering power of Jesus, she joined some other women who were traveling with Jesus and His Disciples. These women assisted the Lord, and helped care for those who were ministered to by the Lord. Mary was a woman whose life had been dramatically changed for good by Jesus.
We also find information about Mary in the accounts of the Passion of Jesus. She was on Golgotha’s hill when Jesus was crucified, and was among the last to leave the crucifixion scene that day. She had seen Joseph and Nicodemus take Jesus’ body off of the cross, and transport it to a tomb for burial. Now, she had come to the tomb of Jesus to say her final “good-bye” to the Lord, and to weep and grieve His death. But she noticed when she arrived that the stone was rolled away and the body of Jesus was gone. Her grief was compounded further as she presumed that vandals, thieves or Roman soldiers had taken the body of Jesus. Can you imagine the grief that Mary Magdalene was experiencing? All of her hopes and dreams had been shattered with the death of Jesus, and now she couldn’t properly grieve His passing.
Third Question – “What incidents in your life have most contributed to your grief, sorrow and despair?” Have you ever felt like Mary – totally hopeless and helpless with no one to turn to and no hope for the future? If you’ve ever felt like that, or if you feel like that now, your sadness can be turned into gladness when you learn and experience what Mary learned and experienced on that day.
We see that Mary, in the midst of her grief encountered the Lord, embraced the Lord, and enthroned the Lord. Although she didn’t recognize Him when He first approached her, she encountered the Lord that day. How do we encounter the Lord? We encounter Him by receiving Him as our Savior, meeting with Him daily through prayer and Bible Study, and worshipping Him regularly by ourselves and with other believers? Encountering the Lord is the first step to overcoming grief and sorrow.
Second, Mary embraced the Lord. In fact, she embraced Him so tightly, that Jesus had to eventually instruct her to release her grip on Him (John 20:17). It is one thing to encounter the Lord and it is another to embrace Him. Embracing Jesus means wholeheartedly showering Him with our love, devotion and affection. It is communicating to Him our love and appreciation for Him.
Third, Mary enthroned the Lord. She called Him “Teacher,” an intensified form of the term “rabboni” which meant, “my teacher, my Lord, my master.” When we enthrone Jesus in our lives, we are declaring Him to be the absolute Lord of our lives. When we encounter, embrace and enthrone the Lord, like Mary we will see our sadness turn to gladness and our sorrow replaced with joy.
As you pray today: 1) Ask the Lord to reveal any strongholds of grief that may remain in your life from childhood or adulthood; 2) Ask the Lord to heal and deliver you from grief and sorrow in your life; and 3) Embrace and enthrone the Lord in your life. When you do, He will turn your sadness into gladness!