Devotion to Jesus Christ is necessary for transformation and spiritual growth.
GOLDEN TEXT: Mark 16:9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
…….I have always wondered why it was Mary Magdalene that Jesus appeared to first. While there is no scripture to determine this, I can only come to the conclusion that Mary was always looking for Him! Out of the 12 disciples that He chose to lead, she chose Him. Every opportunity she had, she waited at his feet trying to hear what he had to say. Jesus was her source of life and strength and without Him, she refused to live! What a life it is for those who continue in a relationship with Christ!
Why did Mary keep coming back to Jesus? The beginning reason was because He did something for her. He cast out 7 devils that tormented her entire life. He completely changed her life in one moment and she wanted the momentum of that moment to last forever. How many of us can say that we have had perfect momentum in following Christ? Probably no one, but in that realization we find that spiritual momentum in this life only comes from one source and that source is Jesus!
Question: what has Jesus Christ done for you, that motivates you to be devoted to him?
FAITHFUL MINISTRY TO JESUS
A. Delivered and Devoted
Luke 8:1 And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,
2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,
3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
…….Does your substance keep Jesus coming back for more? Obviously there is no materialistic item we can offer to Christ for him to sustain, but today our substance is worship and devotion to Him.
B. Faithful to the End…….At the Cross
Mark 15:37 And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.
38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.
39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.
40 There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome;
41 (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.
…….While there were many women disciples of Jesus present at His crucifixion, of the twelve apostles of Jesus, only John was there. No matter why they decided to follow Him in the first place, one thing that is true is they were dedicated through the end! While others were scattered abroad at the news of His arrest, the women stayed close. Their devotion to Him outweighed whatever fears that came along with being His follower!
42 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,
43 Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor (also said to be of the Sanhedrin), which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved (desired) the body of Jesus.
44 And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead.
45 And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.
…….It was certainly a risk for Joseph to ask for and acquire the body of Christ. A man said to be of great wealth and reputation who apparently followed Jesus from a far off which eventually changed His life eternally. It is said that Joseph actually spent time in prison for His actions. It is also said that Joseph went on preaching His gospel as a missionary for Christ.
Going to John 19:39, listen at who was also there at the end…. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight…….Nicodemus who was Sanhedrin Pharisee was at one time ashamed to be affiliated with Jesus (John 3:2 says He came to Jesus by night) but was now assisting with the preparation and burial of Christ. He may not have been following outwardly, but inwardly there was a conversion taking place. Many church people today have learned, like most of the disciples, to follow outwardly. We understand the order of service, we have learned how to dress and even how to carry ourselves while certain Christians and ministers are in our presence. While we learn to perform the character of Christ, our hearts may be far from Him. For Americans, there is no risk of claiming Christianity. Maybe a little backbiting or laughter from co-workers, but you can be quite assured that no one in your community will kill you for fallowing Jesus. For these, it was a different story, but that risk didn’t change their minds. If anything, they grew closer to Him and were greatly rewarded! May we ever find ourselves following with our whole hearts!
Joh 19:40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury…….Not only did Nicodemus help bury Jesus, but he also helped take His body off the cross. The truth is, there was nothing clean about a crucifixion. In Christ’s sake, because of the hatred, it would be easy to say that His situation was much more of a sad mess. But, the one who shamefully came to Jesus by night was now the one who was covered with the precious blood that would truly change his life forever!
46 And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.
47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.
…….Think about this question, do we really follow Jesus with our whole heart? Are we the ones who will quickly run to a religious occasion, but when trouble comes do we run to other means for comfort? For the few that were left by His side, they could truly say that their hearts and life’s were devoted to Jesus no matter the circumstance. That’s the faith I long for us to have!
JESUS APPEARS TO MANY
A. Dilemma in Service
Mark 16:1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
…….The Jews made no attempts to embalm or preserve dead bodies, but as long as they continued visiting a deceased body they brought spices and aromatic oils to anoint the body. In addition to keeping down the door, this was also an expression of love for the deceased person.
2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
…….This scripture tells us that there was no expectation whatsoever that Jesus would rise again on the third day. Although they were the truest followers, they still didn’t understand and/or maybe didn’t believe His full purpose.
4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
…….When they realized the stone was rolled away, just imagine the wonder or worry that immediately settled into their minds. Maybe someone came as well to preserve His body, maybe someone stole His body, maybe they moved His body to a different tomb because of who He was. They would soon find out that this wasn’t the case!
B. An Astonishing Encounter
Mark 16:5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.
…….They were so astonished at the fact that Jesus was gone, they didn’t even realize they were in the presence of an angel! They weren’t as much afraid of his presence as they were of Jesus’ absence.
6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
…….He is risen he said, look at where He was laid.
7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.
…….What a privilege it was to be the first people to tell the resurrection story! Their devotion to Christ, before and after His crucifixion turned out rewarding, and they weren’t even seeking a reward!
8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.
9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
…….They quickly ran from the tomb with fear, (still not realizing the miracle) now telling John and Peter what had become. Joh 20:3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.
Joh 20:4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.
Joh 20:5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.
Joh 20:6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,
Joh 20:7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.
Joh 20:8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.
Joh 20:9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.
Joh 20:10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.
CONVERSATION WITH THE RISEN LORD
A. Mary’s Grief
John 20:11 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.
14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
…….In a whole other message, this is proof of how grief can change our perception of reality. Sometimes we can become so overwhelmed with the past, that we become blind to the promise that is before us. This is where faith steps in!
15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
…….Though Mary was devoted to the body of Christ, do you think her reactions may have been from a lack of inward faith? All the while, no matter the reasoning, still she stayed devoted. This is the way our faith grows at times. She could have easily went back home, counted her losses and tried to live a different. The truth is, there was no other way, no other option for Mary to turn to! If it wasn’t for her consistency she may not have been the first one to realize that Jesus had come back!
B. Jesus’ Words to Mary
John 20:16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
…….Just like a sheep recognizing the voice of its master, she turned at the call!
17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.
…….What an amazing comfort and change of heart that Mary’s devotion fulfilled. Jesus‘ words swept away Mary’s grief. Her grief was suddenly transformed into unspeakable joy. Her demeanor, her countenance, and her posture were transformed because she encountered her resurrected Lord. This required of her a new responsibility. Jesus commissioned Mary to tell the disciples that He was alive and would ascend to the father. Mary obeyed. She came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and He had spoken these things to her!