In our church context, whoever preaches on Sunday has the opportunity to write up a little devotional for some aditional study and reflection. Here is my last sermon and the follow up devotional.
ENCOUNTER: Read Mark 15:33-41
The more I study Mary Magdalene, the more I am blown away at what an incredible woman she must have been. I love how much she served Jesus, I love that Jesus gave here the distinct privilege to be the very first herald of the resurrection. And I love the irony of religious people who have often struggled with women and their roles in the church, have given such a high honor, not to Peter, or James, or John, but to Mary of Magdala.
For as much as I love these things about Mary. What has impacted me the most this week as I have studied her life and reflected on her place in the life and ministry of Jesus, it is her presence at the crucifixion and in the preparation of the burial spices that caused me to do some additional reflection.
You see, the crucifixion was the lowest part of Jesus' earthly ministry. It was horrifying and heartbreaking. It caused huge panic among the male disciples, to the point that they all scattered. But for the women who followed Jesus, for Jesus' mother and the closest and dearest of friends, this was a time to share in their sorrow and grief.
Think about how incredible it was for Mary Magdalene to have such proximity to Mary, Jesus mother, in one of the most inner circle events of someone's life. Being witness to the death and preparing the burial spices was reserved for the dearest and closest friends. And of all the people to have this sort of proximity to Jesus and to Jesus' mother, it was Mary Magdelene.
And it is this proximity and intimacy that I long for in my walk with Jesus as well.
Unfortunately, for me, when I think of intimacy and proximity to Jesus I think of it as all goodness and grace. All things that will fill my cup and fill my soul and allow me to be fulfilled in all things. But the more I discover the scriptures, I am finding that those people in closest proximity of Jesus and of his heart, often experience more of his broken heart. Like Paul says in Romans, we can not share in his glory, without sharing in his sufferings.
All this to say, I am so impressed with Mary Magdelene and love how much she loved Jesus. And because of her faithfulness was able to serve Jesus' ministry and to serve him personally, even to his death.
Intimacy is a difficult journey. But for all the challenges it is with people, and for all the challenges it is in our walk with Jesus, it is trully what changes lives!
May we be people who long to live in close proximity to Jesus and to others so that we can share in both their sufferings and their glory!
BE REFLECTIVE: What is a spiritual practice you can incorporate into your life that will deepen your intimacy with Jesus? What is an activity you can do to increase your proximity to Jesus and the places He is at work? What are the barriers holding you back from these two endeavors?
BE A BLESSING: An overwhelming theme throughout scripture and Jesus states so clearly we can't miss it, "Whatever you do for the least of these, you do unto me." If you want to be close to Jesus and his work, then who is a "least of these" that you can get close to, bless, and minister to. And by doing so, you will have put yourself in proximity to the work of Jesus. (Fun experiment)
BE TOGETHER: Proximity and intimacy are difficult to do. In fact, if we can't do it with real life people, then we probably can't to it with God. Proximity and intimacy take practice, time and trust. Who is some real-life person that you can actually move closer to and intentionally deepen your relationship with?