The Leadership we Need

Even the best of human leaders will eventually disappoint us and fail. Where then can we look to find the right leader?
Let’s understand what right leadership is and where it is to be found.
Sermon Plan
We will look at John 10:10-18 and its description of a Gentle Shepherd.
Indictment of National Leadership
In Ezekiel 34 is an indictment of political leadership, the shepherd kings of Israel, who feed themselves. The people are scattered. Self-indulgent leaders bring national disaster. They covet wealth and ignore the needs of the flock. Our national leadership crisis is caused by an oligarchy, “the fat and the strong” who neglect the starving sheep. Selfish leadership has created a national crisis. The powerful take the bulk of our national wealth. Tax law protects them and burdens the weak. Like selfish animals they leave fouled water behind. Ezekiel prophesies a new government with good leadership. Yahweh will be the good shepherd in Israel. The prophesied new king will be a descendant of David who will do what a shepherd should do, feed the sheep, creating abundant life for all (John 10:10). Yahweh will be Israel’s shepherd, God with us.
The Abundant Life
When we read that Jesus came that we may have life to the full, the abundant life, we may read into the passage a purely materialistic abundance. We may assume that this passage means accumulating things, when it actually refers to an abundant life (John 10:10). An abundance of things can actually detract from an abundant life. Jesus said that we ought to be on our guard against greed because life does not consist of an abundance of possessions (Luke 12:13-21) but in being rich towards God. So, what is the abundant life? It is a life filled over and above our necessary dullness. It is a superior life, a life that is remarkable, one that is lived with greater honor. It is life devoted to the things of God, a life guided by Jesus the Great Shepherd.
Addiction to Materialism vs the Abundant Life
What would be our society’s greatest addiction? When we speak of addiction, we may think of alcohol or drugs, but those are not our world’s greatest addictions. Our economy relies upon creating addictions to products. Two of our greatest addictions are unhealthy foods and materialism. Advertising deceives us that material goods make an abundant life and politics deceives us that fixing America begins with a materialistic solution. We are constantly lied to that materialism and degenerate foods will create the abundant life. Yet, Jesus warned against greedy materialism because that is not life (Luke 12:13-21). Jesus came that we might have truly rich and satisfying lives (John 10:10). It begins by being a faithful member of a church community where Jesus is taught. The church is the sheepfold where Jesus gathers his sheep to be protected and fed.
I grew up spending summers on my uncle’s sheep farm. Though I learned a lot about sheep, I did not learn much about shepherding. Later I became pastor of a rural church with many sheep farmers. Though I learned a lot more about sheep from them, I still did not learn much about shepherding until I met Robin. She was a shepherd. There is a difference. Sheep farmers have thousands of sheep, but Robin had a small flock and knew each one by name. Sheep often flee a sheep farmer, but when Robin took a small can of grain and shook it, they came to her and they knew her voice. That’s an advantage of small churches. Jesus is like Robin. He is the Good Shepherd and calls us into his flock to be cared for individually (John 10:11).
Shepherd Imagery
Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd (John 10:11). Ancient shepherds were rugged weather-beaten individuals with rough clothing, carrying a wooden staff in one hand. Israel’s kings were also called shepherds after David who learned to fight by defending his flocks. Even Greek philosophers compared human leadership to the art of shepherding a flock. The Gospel uses the imagery of a shepherd, the sheepfold, knowing the sheep, and laying down his life for them, feeding the sheep. In Greek the word for good is kalos, meaning beautiful as an outward sign of honorable character. Several times Jesus says that he lays down his life for his sheep. He cares for his sheep and knows them. This is a contrast between good and bad human leadership in any field. A leader is good because he lays down his life for others.
Pastoral Reality
Human pastors must sleep, have time for their families, and generally take good care that they do not overwork. In church life, there is always more work to do than can possibly be done by one person. So, every church should remember that we all have one Good Shepherd and the human pastor is not it. Unhealthy churches become dependent upon a human pastor instead of Jesus. While human pastors are shepherds, they are only assistant under-shepherds to the Good Shepherd. They are fallible and can only do so much. By laying down his life for the flock, Jesus showed us the love of God in a way that we could understand. Though living a self-sacrificing life is the model that Jesus left for us, there was only one life required for the salvation of the world (John 10:11).
Devoted Protector
Hired hands are quitters who leave us when the going gets tough. Jesus cares for his sheep, but not the hired hand. There is no greater love than laying down our lives for our friends (John 15:13). What is the danger? One danger is the wolf (John 10:12). False prophets are wolves (Matthew 7:15), enemies. A tactic of wolves is to enter the flock and deceptively appear like one of us, but they eventually attack. Every church has experienced those who only entered to get their way. They did not care for us, but only wanted to feed on us. We were fodder for their appetites, their political agendas, their desire for a following and for control. They were only here to destroy not to bless. The Good Shepherd lays down his life to save the sheep.
The Hired Hand
Who is your pastor? That person is not the Good Shepherd, but a hired hand. That is the terminology used in John 10:12-13. All pastors read those words and say to themselves, “I hope that is not me.” Yet it is all pastors except the one, Jesus Christ. We must face the fact that we are being described here. Even Jesus’ disciples ran away during difficult times. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can any of us stay and fight. Pastors often compare themselves by how big their congregations, how long they have served, how many books they have written or other egotistical comparisons. From this passage success as a pastor is not measured by such silly standards but by standing firm when the wolf attacks. A great pastor is one willing to die for their congregation.
The word pastor is one of the least used words for a church leader in the New Testament, but a very meaningful one. Whereas other words carry meanings like envoy, servant, elder, teacher and overseer, the word pastor means a shepherd. Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:14), and every human pastor is an under-shepherd. In larger churches associate and assistant pastors or a pastoral care group become the hands-on pastors of the flock. Whatever level of pastoral care can be given is vital because there is nothing more important to Jesus than his flock. All pastors know that they are inadequate and totally incapable of providing what Jesus would, yet we count it a privilege to love and be loved by the flock of Christ. It is a privilege to bear scars from years of protecting the flock.
The One True Church
Official Catholic teaching is that it is the one true church. Official Orthodox teaching is somewhat alike. Official teaching of a number of denominations large and small is very similar. Yet, they cannot all be the one true church. Such exclusive thinking is not new. There were times that even Jesus’ disciples were caught up in such mentality. John 10:16 adds something interesting to this discussion. Jesus said that he had other sheep not of this fold or sheep pen. The “one true church” mentality on the human level stinks of politics and egotism. I like to call it “exclusive franchise” thinking. There certainly is one true church, but there is nothing in the Bible that specifically speaks of God having just one exclusive organization of human beings. It appears that God’s flock exists in more than one sheepfold.
Other Sheep Pens
John 10:16 speaks of other sheep not of this sheep pen. He says that it is necessary that he must also bring them, who will also listen to his voice, with the goal that they would all become one flock. These other sheep are not in the fold. They are elsewhere possibly in immediate danger. They need to be brought into the protection of the sheep pen so the shepherd can keep a closer watch over them. What distinguishes these sheep is that they will listen to his voice. How will they hear his voice if we do not preach his Word, what he taught? Christian unity begins among those who will listen to Jesus’ Word. Sheep are not individualistic. There is no such thing as a safe sheep of Christ outside of the sheepfold, the community of believers.
The Great Shepherd of the flock is the example of right leadership. We need no other.

Living the Repentant Life


In honor of President Abraham Lincoln’s call for a Day of National Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer on Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, Christian leaders are calling for Thursday April 30 this year to be America’s National Day of Repentance.


Let us look at the importance of repentance as we examine the lectionary scriptures for this day.


We will look at all four Revised Common Lectionary texts for the day from Luke 24:36b-48; Acts 3:12-19; 1 John 3:1-7 and Psalm 4 and focus on the topic of repentance.

Proof Jesus is not a Ghost

In Luke 24:36b-48 Jesus offers proof that he is not a ghost. The disciples see and touch him, and he ate in their presence. Contrary to the heresy of Marcionism Jesus demonstrated the physical reality of his body. The disciples disbelieved and wondered because of joy or as we would say, it seemed too good to be true. Wondering seems to get in the way of believing. Jesus then ate in their presence. Christians believe in Jesus’ words the Hebrew scriptures as summarized by the saying the law of Moses, the prophets, and the Psalms. He opened their minds to understand the scriptures indicating that we too need divine help to understand the Bible. There are three parts to Jesus’ instructions here: he would suffer, be raised and so repentance resulting in forgiveness must be proclaimed to all nations.

Repentance INTO Forgiveness

The Greek in In Luke 24:47 literally means repentance INTO forgiveness of sins. The purpose of preaching against sin is not to condemn, but to lead people to be forgiven. Repentance that leads to forgiveness is at the heart of the Gospel message. We don’t condemn, but save and forgive. For Christians the opposite of sin is not moral perfection, because that is impossible in any human being and so we must have faith. The entire Old Testament proved that. Law does not work, because we utterly fail in ability to keep law. Repentance is not changing to law keeping, but changing from unbelief to faith in God. Paul taught that the purpose of the law was not perfect obedience, but to expose sin. The goal of Gospel preaching is not better morality, but forgiveness of sin, absolution.

Acts 3:12-19 (Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out)

Political Lies and Twisted Facts

In politics we are used to twisted facts and outright lies. Jesus was crucified in part by Roman and Jewish politics. In Acts 3:12-19 Peter speaks as a fellow Israelite coming from worship in the Temple. He is political in the positive sense of using the wisdom of beginning with common ground. But concluded with a damning accusation: they had betrayed the Author of life. The high priest had manipulated brutal Roman politics for his own selfish purposes. In politics it is common to blame the opposition party or anyone else, but never our own. Yet Peter blamed his own. We too are politicians. We are the Jews. We are the Romans. We are to blame for Jesus’ death. Like politicians we want to avoid personal blame, yet Jesus comes to us and says as to the disciples, “Peace.”

A Miracle at Church

Why do many people avoid church? Is it a place where people are no different to this dark world? Is it a place where people yearn for financial and health miracles, but have no interest in the miracles of repentance and changed lives? In Acts 3:12-19 Peter reminded fellow worshippers that the man they had just murdered came to change the world. Is that message also for us? Do we want churches that avoid the topics of sin and hell? Do we only want pie in the sky messages that avoid our need to repent. Do we want to do any soul searching? Jesus said repent, to change our minds. Easter is a time to remember how the resurrection changed the early church as it can change us and we can experience the greatest miracle of all, changed lives.

1 John 3:1-7 (all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure)

Sons or Children of God

The phrase sons (or children) of God in 1 John 3:1-7 refers to human beings. In Genesis the sons of God married and giants were born. Jesus said that angels cannot marry or give children in marriage, so the phrase sons of God in Genesis also means human beings. We are called children of God because of his love. He adopts us. That is not the ultimate goal. We will be like him. We will live forever. This is called theosis, or divinization, or sanctification. We are being transformed day by day to be like Jesus. As such we purify ourselves. Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit. We are faithful to our spouses, our churches, our employers, our customers and our God. We abide in him who does not sin, and as we do, we do not sin.

Psalm 4 (Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord)


Psalm 4 is one of those Psalms that contain the word selah. What does it mean? It literally means to lift up or exalt. What could it refer to? It could be a pause for praise. It could refer to a pause similar to saying Amen or Gloria. It could also be a musical pause suggesting a moment to reflect on what was just sung. Modern religious fads seek to get rid of any idea of thought and reflection, yet repentance begins precisely in contemplation. Some even go so far as to suggest we should check our brains at the door, which totally contradicts Jesus command to love God with all our minds, as well as our hearts. Repentance (Luke 24:36b-48), a change of mind, is one of the first directives of Jesus to those who would be his disciples. 


A positive change of heart is a turn to God and into forgiveness. It is a lifelong habit of continual growth and becoming more like God every day.

Living the Resurrection Life

After the resurrection a group of people emerged who lived the resurrection life. What is that like?
I believe that the people of God can live differently than the world, living the joy of the resurrection.
We will examine three post resurrection lectionary texts for the 2nd Sunday of Easter Year B (John 20:19-31, Acts 4:32-35 and 1 John 1:1-2:2).
John 20:19-31 (Jesus appeared among the disciples, and invited Thomas to touch his scars.)
Peace & Go with Power
Jesus did and said amazing things after his resurrection (John 20:19-23)? Appearing through locked doors to fearful disciples, he stood among them. 1) Both spirit and flesh, he showed them his wounds. 2) Jesus came to their fears and spoke. 3) He stood with them and stands with us. Jesus spoke of peace, and mission and the Holy Spirit. 1) He spoke of peace first, before mission, before power. Jesus is our peace, through the cross: peace between us and our triune God, between us and other Christians, in our own souls (purifying our consciences) and peace in the world. 2) I send you 3) in power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Receive him when he comes. If people reject God’s messengers, they also reject God, because he will give them power to lead people into forgiveness.
Acts 4:32-35 (Signs of living the resurrection: sharing, bearing witness to the resurrection, and caring for the needy.)
What Acts 4 is Not
What is Acts 4:32-35 and what is it not? 1) It is not atheistic Communism with government confiscation of private property. Here church members shared. 2) This is descriptive. That means this describes a unique circumstance and the church’s loving response. 3) This is not prescriptive. It does not give any mandate for us that we also sell everything. It was entirely voluntary. 4) Generosity is a mandate but the manner in which we are generous varies greatly. 5) Liquidating assets is a short term solution. Where we have a longer horizon, longer term financial devices such as annuities can be a larger gift to the needs of a church community. 6) The modern church is sadly not of “one heart and one soul”. 7) This is an example of a loving community where nobody lacked for any necessity.
What Our Land is Not
Some say that we are a Christian nation. Contrast our national treatment of the poor with the attitude described in Acts 4:32-35. As much as we like to think so, ours is not a land where wealth is shared. Our great grandparents would be ashamed of us. They grew up in an era when it was contemptible to be greedy and selfish. Does Jesus give us any excuse to be greedy in life and hoard? Does Jesus give us an excuse to ignore our individual God-given responsibility towards the needy in our land? Does Jesus give politicians any excuse to ignore our collective Christian responsibility and vote against legislation that would help the poor? We excuse our greed by calling it capitalism and contrast it with communism, but that is a false dichotomy. There is a third alternative, Christianity.
Imagining the Early Church
A family had lost everything. They used to own a family farm, but due to punishing taxation by the Romans, they had to sell everything just to pay the taxes demanded by the occupying army. Without land to grow food, they eventually ended up in destitute circumstances, without a home and without produce. Some family members were able to get occasional work to put food on the table, but their circumstances were dire. Thankfully, they had recently converted to the Way as Christianity was then called, and this new community was a loving one such as no family member had ever experienced. Some of the wealthier followers of the Way had sold lands or houses to provide for the needs of the community (Acts 4:32-35). They did this voluntarily because of the love of Christ swelling in their hearts.
Early Christians lived a very different way of life. Acts 4:32-35 does not describe Communism. That was godless, government theft of property. This is extreme generosity of heart. These Christians were generous with their possessions. That is offensive to our modern ears. Preachers of a false Gospel and our politicians promise us more things, not less. This passage does not present a bunch of rules, but an example. The old covenant gave us many rules. The new only demands love. There is one mandate: love. The Holy Spirit gently leads our hearts if we let him, not a set of do’s and don’ts. One thing unites the world across political ideals in America, China, Russia and Europe: predatory greed. We are called to turn from the world’s way. Our mandate is: love thy neighbor. How will we choose to?
Not a Needy Person Among Them
Many Christians criticize moral failings of the world, but never mention greed? Are we just like the world when it comes to greed? Is a litmus test the early church? Does our approach to material wealth resemble anything the Bible says, or does it more closely resemble the world? Do we still associate greed with hellfire or do we pride ourselves on the size of our bank accounts? Do we excuse greed by hiding behind the constitution and capitalist ideals? Do we ignore any and all passages of the Bible which teach us to the contrary and label anyone who dares threaten our materialism as either Communist or Socialist when in reality it is nothing more than true Christianity? Can we imagine a world like the early church (Acts 4:32-35) where there was not a needy person among them?
A Fabulous Inheritance
Imagine that we had word of a fabulous inheritance worth tens of billions. How would we look upon the things we now own? Would we see our furniture, cars, homes as just so much junk in comparison? Would we hang on to them? Would we perhaps begin giving them away, knowing that what we are about to receive is so much more valuable? Would we begin looking at family and friends being so much more worth than any of the things that we own? Would we think of ways that we could give back to our communities? Could that be the attitude that early Christians had as described in Acts 4:32-35? Could it be that when we clearly see the fabulous inheritance that we will have in God’s kingdom for eternity, that the things of earth grow strangely dim?
1 John 1:1-2:2 (Signs of living the resurrection: confession, forgiveness, and overcoming.)
In 1 John 1:9 we are told that If we confess our sins, he will forgive us and cleanse us. He loves us and offers us forgiveness. Who is this God who offers sinful humanity forgiveness? John proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Some rejected his baptism. They rejected God’s purpose for them (Luke 7:30). Jesus teaches us to forgive as God has forgiven us. Forgiveness is God’s gift even to our enemies. What is forgiveness? In Greek it means to let go and to pardon. Why do we find it hard to forgive? Forgiveness is about restoring lost relationships. It is an unearned and undeserved gift. Who do we find it difficult to forgive? God still provides us and our enemies food, clothing and rain. He gladly covers our sins and forgets them.
Diversity and Fellowship
God’s forgiveness should change the way we look at people. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. 1 John 1 teaches that if we walk in the light we fellowship with one another, not avoid one another. Why do we criticize others for sins or mere differences of opinion? Political correctness demands that everyone has the same opinion, instead of free speech and respect for differences. Do we criticize or show respect? Do we seriously think someone of a different opinion is not worth having as a friend? Would we seriously disown a son or daughter over a difference of opinion? Do we value good relationships with all people? Are we keenly aware of our own moral failings? Are we really in a position to judge another sinner? How important is a peaceful, loving church to us?
Assurance of Salvation
The theme of I John is assurance of salvation (1 John 5:13). What is true Christianity? True Christianity is that human beings can have fellowship with God. The apostles examined the risen Word of life with their own hands. Christians walk in the light which exposes their sins. They are not defensive, but confess sin. Confess? The prefix con means with and fess means to admit. We could say that we fess up agreeing with God’s opinion of our sins. We admit with God that we did wrong. We do not hide our sins in darkness, but bring them into the light of truth. 1 John 1:8 says that if we say that we HAVE no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. How can we be cleansed? The blood of Jesus cleanses us.
God wants us to also leave the past behind and live the resurrection life.

Woman, Why are You Crying?

The story setting is early on that Sunday morning after Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:1-18). This time of year, Jerusalem can be just over 20°C (about 70° on the old scale) during the day. Early that morning it may have been about 10°C (50°F), so Mary probably wrapped herself up against the cool early air as she headed towards the garden tomb. At that hour on a Sunday morning the streets may have already seen a little activity as there were many guests in town for the 8 day Passover festival.
That Sunday was going to be the day of the wave sheaf offering, the only hint of Christ’s resurrection in the entire Old Testament festival tradition. Mary was still in shock and grieving the horrific death of Jesus. What she would soon discover sounds too good to be true, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Every now and then we hear of someone who does not like other people at church. But, the apostles did not get to choose who the other apostles were and we don’t get to pick who our church friends are. They are chosen for us by Jesus. If we had to choose, we may not have chosen someone like Mary Magdalene to be a part of our church at all. She grew up in Magdala near Lake Galilee, that’s why she is often called Mary the Magdalene or just Mary Magdalene. Magdala was like many towns that were heavily taxed by the Romans. To survive the poverty caused by the heavy taxation, brothels were commonplace.
Mary’s name also suggests that she was single, but there is no Bible proof for the popular legend that she was a prostitute. She has been confused with the Mary who wiped Jesus’ feet and was from Bethany (John 11:1-3) not Magdala. Some have suggested that she may have suffered some kind abuse at the hands of Roman soldiers and that is why she became crazy. She may have been called in our language names such as Mad Mary or Mary the Schizo. Insanity and demon possession may not be the same thing, so let’s just go with the Gospel accounts and leave psychological and demon speculation to the experts.
The story tells us that she was possessed and tormented by seven demons. Often times when we know someone in our community who is crazy, they have no friends. Perhaps Mary was like that too. Some people fear those with demons and mental illnesses. In Mary’s case, it was she who was living in fear every day and probably had a lot of sleepless nights as well. Perhaps she even thought of suicide at times to stop the torment and the pain. Rejected by family and friends, her only company may have been the demons which tormented her day and night.
Many of us are in some ways like Mary, imprisoned by the invisible bars of emotional pain, possessed by habits we can’t break, tormented by the memories of past sins.
Then one day, a wonderful voice broke into her dark and depressing nightmare. Mary heard the voice of Jesus call her. MARY! He told her he had driven the demons away. Nobody else had been able to help her. It seemed to her that for the first time in her life somebody really cared. Somebody actually loved her!
The dark cloud that had surrounded her life was gone. The pain in her body was gone. A new energy surged through her soul. It was a moment she would never forget.
From then on, perhaps morning became a special time for Mary. No longer did she awake after a nightmarish sleep to a dark reality. Now she greeted the sunshine with joy. Perhaps she wondered at first if the demons would return, but when Jesus heals someone they have life again.
She became a faithful follower of his teachings. While others followed him, she was all the more motivated. He had given her new life and she wanted to serve him in gratitude.
Other women followed Jesus too. Mary developed special friendships with Joanna and Susanna. Like Mary, these women too had pledged to support Jesus in any way they could. He may not have had finances left over from the gifts of the Magi. Jesus was not a wealthy man. He had an itinerant ministry where he walked everywhere. Luke 8:1-3 indicates that these women gave Jesus financial support, so Mary must have had some financial means.
Mary of Magdala is mentioned more often than some of the apostles. St Augustine called her the Apostle to the Apostles. She may have also taken care of some of the food, lodging and hospitality for the disciples in various towns. Jesus had met her deepest need and she was only too glad for him to do the same for others. Jesus healed many men and women of physical and spiritual sicknesses. Even the demons obeyed him. People were excited about Jesus and the kingdom that he preached.
Then Jesus entered Jerusalem and the excitement was enormous. People came out to see him. Crowds cheered and waved tree branches. They shouted “HOSANNA!” and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” The disciples also joined in the celebration, with singing, dancing and cheering. They anticipated him freeing them from Roman oppression. Perhaps at Passover Jesus would announce himself as their king. They were so excited.
But then everything changed. Joy and celebration gave way to fear and crying. Women are often more able to sense a man’s mood. Perhaps they sensed Jesus’ sombreness in his eyes and voice. But like all the disciples, perhaps they too refused to believe what was about to happen.
Then Mary along with the other women heard that Jesus had been arrested. Perhaps they watched from a distance as they took him to be executed. Many Jewish leaders had been plotting this for months. They falsely accused him of treason and blasphemy and led him to Jewish and Roman authorities. The charges were just lies trumped up by those who just wanted to eliminate a threat to their own positions in the community. Jesus did not defend himself. Why?
Maybe the Romans would give him better justice than the Jews? But they were no better. Roman guards physically abused and mocked Jesus. They whipped him and spat on him. That was a crime. Jew or Gentile, they were all guilty of his suffering. Even the Roman leaders Herod and Pilate gave him no justice, nor did they even question the atrocities committed by their own soldiers. The Romans then turned Jesus over to a lynch mob to be crucified.
Mary Magdalene was there as they nailed him to a cross. Murderers crucified him next to other murderers. Yet, Jesus had healed the sick and the lame. He had performed great miracles and cast out demons. Even the wind and sea obeyed him. How could this the Son of God die?
The soldiers mocked him to save himself. Mary believed that he could, but he did not. Why? Jesus had delivered her from her demons, but he would not deliver himself. Why?
And he died...
The disciples died inwardly with him. His suffering ended, but their suffering under the Romans remained. What was it all about?
Mary walked with them as his lifeless body was placed in a tomb. Night was falling and the Sabbath was beginning. But that Sabbath was not a rest day, not inwardly, not in their souls. Perhaps many of them believed there was nothing more to live for. Sabbath was supposed to be a day of worship as well as rest, but Mary could not worship. She was too confused. What did it all mean. At the first hint of dawn’s light she headed for the garden tomb.
It was still too dark to see inside the tomb, but not too dark to see that the stone covering the entrance had been rolled aside. Mary wondered who could have moved it. Had someone stolen the body? She ran to the disciples, breathlessly explaining what she had seen to Peter and John. They then ran to the tomb to see for themselves. John looked inside and believed. The two men returned to their accommodations.
Then Mary Magdalene returned to the tomb and not sure what to think she began weeping. She was stricken with deep despair. Dejected and confused she could only cry.
She saw two men sitting on the long stone shelf where his body had laid. She was so grief stricken that she hardly noticed they were bright shining angels.
They asked her, WOMAN, WHY ARE YOU CRYING?
It must have seemed like a stupid question to Mary. Had these two men taken the body? Turning left and right she answered that someone had taken her Lord and she did not know where. Turning, she saw Jesus standing there too but did not recognize him at first. Was he a caretaker?
The man asked her, WOMAN, WHY ARE YOU CRYING? Who is it you are looking for?
Who are these people? Don’t they understand Mary’s grief? She asked him if he had carried away the body. She was not interested in punishing him only in retrieving the body of the one who had released her from her demons. He had then mentioned her name and seven demons left her.
Then the man in the garden said one word, MARY.
She turned to him and cried out in her language, RABBONI! Teacher!
All it takes is one word from Jesus and all our worries are gone. Mary went from grief to joy in a split second. As he spoke her name before and released her from her torment, so again he spoke her name and her torment was gone.
She just wanted to fall at his feet and grab his ankles, but he cautioned her that he had not yet ascended to our Father in heaven. He commissioned her to go to the disciples and tell them.
Mary was the first to hear that famous phrase, He is risen. She was the first to bear eyewitness to the risen Christ. That is why she is sometimes referred to as apostle to the apostles.

Adapted from “No Reason to Cry” [Robinson, Haddon W.; Robinson, Torrey (2003-03-01). It's All in How You Tell It: Preaching First-Person Expository Messages (pp. 126-127). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]