Seeing God Through Sorrow

John 20:11-16

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb.  

This is a somewhat confusing scene, don’t you think?

Peter and John have rushed to the empty tomb, and having found it empty, THEY BELIEVED!  They remembered what Jesus had said about having to be crucified, and how He said that He would rise again three days later.  This was the day!  It clicked in their hearts and minds, and instantly, their grief became joy.  And then there’s Mary Magdalene…

12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, Woman, why are you weeping? She said to them, They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.

Two angels are sitting in the tomb where Jesus’ body had once lain.  She’s looking at ANGELS!  Yet, the reality of the situation still hasn’t sunk in.  Perhaps they didn’t look like angels to her.  Perhaps she had forgotten Jesus’ words around rising from the dead, or maybe she wasn’t even around when He’d said them; thought, I doubt it.  She had the same experience as Peter and John, and yet she was still gripped by sorrow.

Then Jesus Himself speaks to her, and she snaps out of it, right?  Not quite…

14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking? Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away. 

She’s looking at and having a conversation with Jesus, BUT SHE DOESN’T RECOGNIZE HIM!  Why?!  Could it be that the grief of having buried Jesus—possibly the only person who’d ever loved her for her—was so raw that it kept her from recognizing Him?  All she can process at the moment is that Jesus is dead, and now His body’s gone.  She can’t handle much more; she’s literally at the end of herself.  Could her situation have been so overwhelmingly painful that she wasn’t able to see God?  I think so.

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Working in camp ministry for over thirteen years, I lifeguarded for, well, about thirteen of those years.  One of the things I was taught in all those recertifications was that an active drowning victim (pictured above) is aware of NOTHING apart from the need to get his or her head above water.  You could be screaming their name and telling them to grab the buoy you’ve just tossed them, and they’ll never hear you.  You could be right beside them in the water, and they won’t know you’re there until you grab them.  Nothing outside of their situation is getting through.

We can quickly find ourselves in a situation that feels like this, can’t we?  We see tragedy strike in the lives of those around us, but we never expect to touch us.  Then it does, and we suddenly feel like we’re 100 miles off shore, tossed by the crashing waves of our situation, fighting just to keep our heads above water, gasping for hope, and choking on our situation.  In those moments it’s hard to see God.  Truly, it’s hard to even see the walking, talking people who love us and are right beside us because of the raging storm.

I’d never fault a person for becoming so lost in sorrow that they’re unable to see God.  Rather I’d seek to remind them that, even when it doesn’t look or feel like it, God is there.  He promised to be.

Matthew 28:20b

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

The gospel of Matthew ends the way it begins, with the promise of the God who is with us…

Matthew 1:23 

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel

Sometimes it’s hard to see God in the midst of pain.  But, you see, we’ve become a people of faith.  We don’t just go off of what we can see (or feel).  We trust what we KNOW.  We trust WHO we know.  And what we know is that He is with us ALWAYS.  And one soon day, we WILL see Him face to face.

Praise the Lord!

Matthew

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The Words and Works of an Empty Tomb Life

John 20:1-10

1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 

The domino effect that the empty tomb sets off is striking!  Truly, it’s a model for how evangelism should work.  If you’ve trusted Christ as your Savior, whether you realize it or not, you’ve come face-to-face with the empty tomb yourself.  We find ourselves in the flow of events described here, and thus, we find our responsibility.  Keep reading…

2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.

THE EMPTY TOMB COMPELLED MARY MAGDALENE TO TELL OTHERS ABOUT IT.

“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

She couldn’t keep the revelation to herself!  The empty tomb had shaken her to her core, and she had to tell someone.  The empty tomb is irrefutable evidence of Jesus’ resurrection.  Some may want to say, “Oh, he didn’t really get up from the dead.”  If that’s the case, produce the body!  If Jesus never rose from the grave, then His body is still here on earth, so show it to me!  However, that body will never be found because, as I’ve mentioned in a previous devotion, it’s sitting at the Father’s right hand in glory.

Boy!  Don’t you wish you could’ve witnessed the empty tomb like Mary did?  Today it would be like visiting the burial plot or mausoleum of a loved one with the intention of sprucing it up with fresh flowers, or a new artificial arrangement.  You expect to find it, well, as expected, right?  You know, marker still standing, grass undisturbed, and old flowers ready to be changed out.  To find the grave open and the marker knocked over would set you back!

Don’t you wish the lost walking the earth today could encounter something as earth-shattering as the empty tomb, or the scene I just described?  THEY CAN!  YOU!  You and I are meant to be their empty tomb experience.  We are the walking, talking occurrence of death become life!  When they encounter us in our schools, workplaces, and in the marketplace, they expect us to be just like the undisturbed grave I just mentioned.  They expect us to think, talk , and act just like them and the rest of the dead sort that they’re used to.  However, when they experience incomprehensible grace and undeserved love at our hand, it will set THEM back!

If you’ve recognized your sin, your need for the Savior, and you’ve called on Him, then you’ve already had your open grave experience, but don’t stop there!  You have what it take to be someone else’s empty tomb.  Show them!  Tell them!  That’s what Mary did, and look what happened…

3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in,

HER TESTIMONY COMPELLED OTHERS TO LOOK FURTHER INTO HER CLAIM.

The boys looked into it!  They didn’t believe immediately.  They had to see for themselves, and I appreciate that!  They didn’t thoughtlessly believe; they needed a reason to believe the claim.  When you and I witness to those around us, many won’t immediately drop to their knees and confess their need for Jesus on the spot.  They will need to think about it.  They’ll need to examine the claim and see if it stands up to scrutiny.  This is where we need to be ready like Peter said in his first epistle…

1 Peter 3:15 

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

What do you think Peter’s reason for believing was?  I can tell you this, he didn’t just try to come up with something that sounded smart!  He didn’t get anxious as he feverishly attempted to recall a memorized answer he was taught one Sunday morning either!  His answer was INSTANT!

“THE TOMB WAS EMPTY!”

Acting like Jesus, and loving like Jesus will open many doors to share the gospel with people, but sometimes, they’ll get hung up on the details, and they’ll need their “tough” questions answered.  Why do YOU believe Jesus rose from the dead?  Why do YOU believe the Bible can be trusted as God’s Word?  Knowing WHY you believe what you believe is the first step in being able to help lost folks who are looking further into your claim.  Will you help them along?

8b and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

THOSE WHO LOOKED FURTHER INTO THE CLAIM WERE CHANGED FOREVER.

Mary saw.  She told others.  They looked into it.  THEY BELIEVED.  The claim was met with experience, and it produced belief.  This happens with us as well!  We hear the Word, we see and feel the love of the one sharing with us, and we experience the draw of the Holy Spirit, and we choose to believe.  Does everyone?  No.  I know that.  However, the more you and I display the radically new, empty tomb life paired with the claim of a sin-removing, resurrected Savior, the more we’ll see people “look into” the claim—our empty tomb life and the reasons we believe—and they’ll BELIEVE!

Keep climbing.

Matthew

“That’s The Worst.”

John 19:40-42

40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

“That’s the worst.”

Have you ever heard someone say that?  You’ve probably said it yourself.  I know I have!  The thing is, it’s usually said about something trivial like running out of hot water in the shower when you’re still covered with soap, or finally getting to the register in a grocery store check-out and remembering that you didn’t get everything on your list.  The moment recorded by John here, however, is conceivably the lowest, saddest, WORST moment in history.

This was the moment in which hope was buried.

Bear in mind that NO ONE KNEW WHAT WAS ABOUT TO HAPPEN!  Jesus had come onto the scene and changed the lives of everyone He touched forever!  By the time He was crucified, many had come to firmly believe that Jesus was indeed the Son of God, the long awaited Messiah.

Then He was killed.

It’s arguable that the death of Jesus was the lowest point.  However, you and I both know that the moments after such an abrupt event, while full of anguish, are filled with shock and confusion.  It takes a bit for things to “sink in.”  A funeral will often bring such closure.  That isn’t to say that the pain of it all goes away; it could easily exacerbate the emotions of the moment.  What it brings is a sense of FINALITY.  When someone goes into the ground, that’s it.  They aren’t coming back.  They’re gone.

THAT is all that everyone who loved Jesus knew.  He was amazing!  He was miraculous!  He was compassionate! HE WAS GONE.  “What are we going to do NOW?” they all must have thought.  How could they ever go on?  They could never go back to their former lives.  And they definitely couldn’t carry on as in recent days.

“HE’S GONE!  WE BURIED HIM!”

Could you have seen the hope through such a dark veil of grief?  My heart beats a little harder at such a thought.

“This wasn’t supposed to happen…”

“He was supposed to be King…”

“This wasn’t part of the plan!”

“I don’t understand!”

“How did this happen?”

“WHY did this happen TO ME?!”

Tragically, we’re guaranteed to encounter such heartache and hardship in this life.  But praise the Lord!  We have a hope that even the disciples didn’t have!  Not only do we know how the story ends, we know that IT ISN’T JUST A STORY!  Three days later, in the midst of gut-wrenching sadness, when He was needed the most, HOPE GOT UP!  Jesus proved He was greater than the greatest problem—death—and He’s capable of making the best out of the worst in a moment.  He still does that.

“That’s the worst.”  Jesus already overcame “the worst,” and He stands ever ready to bring hope to weather our darkest moments as well.

“LORD, help me never forget that You’re there, You care, and You’ve got me.”

Matthew

Step Out of the Shadows

One of my favorite people in Scripture is Nicodemus. He went from being an afraid, timid man, who was so cowardly that he hid himself by the cover of night to a man who finally stepped out of the shadows.

Nicodemus was a Pharisee and likely a part of the Sanhedrin (the highest ruling court of the Jewish system of religion). He had so much going for him. He had power, prestige, and he was likely a very wealthy man. Most members of the Pharisees had so used the system of Judaism to fleece the people. The people would bring their tithes and offerings to the Temple and the Pharisees helped themselves! It was a very corrupt system.

Now, I’m not saying Nicodemus was involved in these kind of immoral practices; however, I’m confident he had to know about them. And this knowledge brings a culpability that is undeniable. Yet, he was curious. He had heard Jesus teaching, and he knew that what he was hearing from this Rabbi from Nazareth was unlike anything he had ever heard. John records their first meeting:

John 3:1-3

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Notice, that he “came to Jesus by night…” As mentioned, he seemed timid and afraid. But, something changed. I mean something changed BIG-TIME! And here’s why I say that…

John 19:38-39

38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. 39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight.

Did you see who came with Joseph of Arimathea to get Jesus’ body after His death? What! Are you serious? Yes…it’s Nicodemus! And he has come in broad daylight. Wait a minute! Doesn’t he know what that will mean for his career? Doesn’t he know if he is seen taking the body of Jesus to be buried that he’ll likely be seen as one who is a follower of Jesus? Hey, Nicodemus! What are you doing? You are jeopardizing your career! You are risking your economic well-being!

Well, you know what, folks?  Sometimes you’ve got to risk economic well-being and do the right thing, no matter what the consequences. Otherwise, we are not truly followers of Jesus…but, instead are cowards who give nothing more than lip service to the Master of life…the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You see, talk is cheap, and at some point, you and I are going to be forced to step out of the shadows and risk it all for Jesus.

You know…we don’t know what happened to Nicodemus. But, I think I have a good idea. And that idea is that he lost his position in the Pharisees and likely lost a lot of money for it. Was it worth it? You bet it was! I’ve never met a genuine follower of Christ who regretted surrendering his or her life to Him. I know I’ve never regretted for a moment knowing Jesus. In fact, you can have all the stuff of this world. I don’t want it. I’ll take Jesus. He’s enough for me. He’s more than enough!!

If you’ve been in the shadows…step out! It’s awesome in the light!

Kevin

Without a Shadow of a Doubt

What do you deem certain in your life? In my mind comes the old adage: death and taxes. But, there’s something of which I’m even more certain than death and taxes:  Jesus Christ.

When I was in college, I went through a season of doubting and fear regarding Jesus and His teachings. Perhaps every Christian goes through this type of season of time; in fact, I will go so far as to say that Satan comes at me from time to time with doubts and fears. I suppose those will exist until I see Jesus face to face.  Ultimately I came to the place in my understanding of who Jesus claimed to be that resided with the crucifixion and resurrection. I concluded, if those two events weren’t real, then the rest of Jesus’ life was a hoax as well.

John was an eye-witness of these events and what he records in his Gospel is truly astounding.

John 19:31-37

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him.

You know all of these things don’t you? The soldiers broke the legs of the thieves to hasten their death because Passover was coming. But, as you think of those thieves, have you thought about the fact that one of these thieves asked for forgiveness, and yet died in the same pain and misery that the other thief did. You see, in this life, pain and suffering come to the good and the evil. But, the fate of the two men were totally different. One went to paradise to be with Jesus, while the other will spend eternity in Hell in the bitterness of his soul.

And so the soldiers came to Jesus to finish off Jesus. But, He was already dead.

33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 

Some have said that Jesus was weak and frail in body and that’s why He died faster and in less time than most persons crucified on a cross. We know from historians that some criminals hung on the cross for days, and birds ultimately picked them apart. However, I don’t believe Jesus was frail. I believe He died quicker because of all that He was enduring. He was enduring the pain and suffering of your sin and mine in His body. He was broken in His humanity by the deepest, darkest, most hideous evil of the universe: SIN. Yet, He conquered sin (yours and mine) with His death! Praise His name!

34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.

A soldier was tasked with the job of making sure each criminal was dead. The death certificate had to be signed, and thus, it had to be a certainty that each individual crucified under Roman law met their fate. And John saw all of this as an eye-witness, as the only Apostle who came to the cross.

 35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe.

That was John talking. And he gave evidence of the truth of Jesus’ death, in order to eventually provide the proof of his resurrection. By the way, you know skeptics say Jesus didn’t really die on the cross but only swooned or was in a trance. Therefore, they say His resurrection was a sham. However, the things that we’ve just seen shows this hypothesis is a sham in and of itself. The Romans made certain of that! A spear to the side emitting blood and water made it impossible for the human body to survive.

And why did these events take place? To fulfill prophecy!! And that’s what convinced me all the way back in college in 1987-88 at Appalachian State University.

 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

The Roman soldier who came to break Jesus’ legs (and didn’t) was fulfilling prophecy. The Roman soldier who pierced Jesus’ side was fulfilling prophecy as well.

Psalm 34:20 says: He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

Zechariah 12:10: And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.

Folks, John didn’t record these things merely for his own satisfaction, but made them public to the world. He didn’t record what he saw to please the curious, but to draw men and women to believe the good news that Jesus came to die for them. And that’s why John’s Gospel convinced me without a shadow of a doubt!

Kevin

“Nerding Out” on the Details

John 19:28-30

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), I thirst. 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, It is finished, and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

I’ve come to believe that everyone is a “nerd” about something—you know, something you are far more enthusiastic about and informed on than your peers.  I “nerd out” about certain video games, comic books, and cinema; I get excited about the nuanced details of these things.  However, I’m also often reminded that not everyone shares my enthusiasm.  Haha!  Perhaps the “being a nerd” part comes from liking those areas nonetheless.  Some people “nerd out” about sports and sports statistics.  For others, it’s pastimes like hunting, fishing, or hiking; it could also be more domestic like reading and crafting.  I even know a guy who enjoys “nerding out” about the weather!  You probably know him too.  Anyway, because of a person’s level of interest in these areas, they know every detail about them, and if they don’t, they’re in eager pursuit of such an evasive detail because that’s their thing!

That’s kind of what we see here with John’s recounting of the Passion.  John was a messianic prophecy nerd, if you will.  You see, Jesus didn’t go through the 33 years of His life on earth checking off an enormous list of prophecies that He had to accomplish.  He didn’t get up each morning and check Reminders on His smartphone for prophecies He needed to fulfill that day!  Think of it this way.  When I teach about prophecy to children, I use a definition given me by Brett Whittington, the man who discipled me for multiple years.

“God knows EVERYTHING, and sometimes He tells us about it EARLY.”

See, when holy men of old penned the scriptures under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, God revealed to them WHAT HE HAD ALREADY SEEN HAPPEN because, in His mind, it had.  Being outside of time, God observed Jesus’ first coming in time, and then He revealed exact details about His coming to the prophets!  So, what’s fantastic about this scene, what John’s pointing out in this instance isn’t that Jesus “made sure to fulfill that one prophecy about thirst.”  No!  The awesome thing that John emphasizes here is that THERE WAS A MESSIANIC PROPHECY EVEN FOR THE MINUTE DETAIL OF JESUS BEING THIRSTY ON THE CROSS!  Undoubtedly, he referred to these prophecies…

Psalm 22:15

my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.

Psalm 69:21

They gave me poison for food,
and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.

With such specifically fulfilled prophecy throughout scripture, why wouldn’t we believe it’s the inspired Word of God?!  Only God can pull that off!

So in this moment, the moment of ultimate sacrifice, we see the full lengths of God’s love for us.  The Father gave everything to get to you and me.  Then, on top of that, He filled the scriptures with specific details of the event beforehand so there would be no way we’d miss it.  It’s like Jesus, being One with the Father, in saying “It is finished” was saying, “See!  I told you.  I told you I’d come rescue you…”

And He did.

Matthew

Curveballs

John 19:25-27

25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, Woman, behold, your son! 27 Then he said to the disciple, Behold, your mother! And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

What a life Mary lived!  Can anyone say “emotional roller coaster?”  I guarantee that it looked nothing like she thought it would back when she was just a teenage girl engaged to her future husband Joseph.  Can you imagine her giddiness?!

“I’m going to marry that cute carpenter, and he’s going to build us a beautiful house because, HELLO, he’s a carpenter!  How handy is that?!  He’ll build me pretty benches to sit on outside!  When we start having children, he’ll build me a beautiful rocking chair, and a baby bed, and you name it!  IT’S GOING TO BE GREAT!!!”

Curveball 1:  “You’re going to have God’s baby…”

Luke 1:28-32

28 And he [the angel Gabriel] came to her and said, Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you! 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 

Probably wasn’t in her plan, you reckon?  She was going to conceive in her womb “the Son of the Most High!”  Hang on.  She wasn’t even married!  How would that work?  Well, God can do anything, and she would somehow conceive a child while still a virgin.  It didn’t matter that she didn’t understand it.  She was ready to serve the Lord.

Luke 1:38

And Mary said, Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word. And the angel departed from her.

So, yeah…  “My kid’s God.”  Can you imagine that on Mary’s minivan?  The other moms’ vans were like, “My kids a Terrific Kid,”  or “University of Jerusalem Mom…”  Anyway, I’m sure that jostled her life plan a bit.  But this was good too, though, right?!  I mean, raising God’s Son had to have its perks.  Could you imagine never having to discipline your child?  Every other kid in the world has to be taught to BE GOOD.  Jesus was ALWAYS GOOD!  When other boys were learning their dad’s trade, Jesus was teaching truth to men old enough to be His grandfather.  It was a curveball for sure, but she managed…

Curveball 2:  “He’s gone.  You’re husband’s dead…”

Wait.  Where do you get that?  Well, Joseph’s profound absence leads only to this conclusion.  Scripture says that Joseph was still in the picture when Jesus was on his own at the Temple at age twelve.  Then he vanishes!  Think about it.  He stood by Mary when the world thought she had fooled around and gotten herself pregnant.  Do you really think he wouldn’t have been there for her the rest of her life, and especially now in the most GUT-WRENCHING moment of her life?!  Read the passage again…

25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, Woman, behold, your son! 27 Then he said to the disciple, Behold, your mother! And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

No Joseph.  The only male associate of Jesus at the cross was the apostle John.  Believe me, in a culture that elevated men, if Joseph had been there, it would’ve been recorded.  Also, when Jesus said, “Woman, behold, your son,” and to John, “Behold, your mother,” He was telling John, “Take care of mom.”  She wouldn’t have needed to be looked after in such a way if Joseph was still around.

No one imagines saying goodbye to the love of their life.  If anything, when the thought crosses their mind, they quickly think of something else.  It’s painful!  The heart yearns to be with that special someone forever, and Mary’s heart was no different.  Her life took a miraculously unexpected turn when she conceived the Son of God in her belly.  It took another unexpected turn, a much more painful one, when her husband died.  Not what she had planned.  Not even close.  She had Jesus, though.  God told her that He was going to sit on David’s throne and rule forever…

Curveball 3:  “Crucify Him!”

How had her life, which once held such promise, wound up here?  “He’s a good boy,” she must have thought.  She must have frantically wondered, “WHY?!”  She was essentially with her Son as He was on His deathbed, and she couldn’t even comfort Him.  How hopeless and helpless she must have felt!

But she was FAITHFUL!  She DIDN’T HESITATE in submitting to God’s plan for her life!  With scalding tears streaming, she could’ve shaken her fist at God, asking, “Is this what I get for a life of obedience?!”  However, scripture records no such tantrum.  She was hit with so much.  Is it any wonder she was the one who was given the stewardship of parenting the Son of God?

Even after surrendering our lives to God, we aren’t promised ease.  Sadly, we live in a sin-broken world.  It’s hard, and it often hurts.  Time and again, it seems, Mary was knocked off their feet while living for God.  However, God fulfilled the promise He made to her way back in her visit with Gabriel…

“…the Lord is with you!”

And He had been.  He’d grown into a man under her roof!  And even as He hung there dying, He was still looking out for her.  “John, take care of mom…”

He’d be back.  That anguish would be replaced with rejoicing, and Mary’s faithfulness would be rewarded.  When Jesus could stay no longer, He sent Himself to her in the Person of the Holy Spirit!  And that promise is still in effect for those of us who are striving to live surrendered to Him.  Such devotion doesn’t equate to lifelong ease; that wasn’t the promise.  He promised to be with us in the midst of life’s curveballs.  Remember that.

THE LORD IS WITH YOU!

Matthew