I see you. You’re tired, stressed, pulled in a thousand different directions. Some of you are grieving losses that the world cannot fathom, losses of childhood, innocence, family, friends, jobs, marriages, and hope altogether. Mary Magdalene must’ve been the same way.
I can just imagine her, heading to the tomb…reliving every gruesome moment of His death, watching as they nailed Him to the cross, weeping with His mother as she likely collapsed under the weight of what the soldiers and the crowd were doing to her Son. Listening to the cries of the Lamb of God.
I bet she relived every moment…the moment that He saved her…the moment that He pulled her out of the darkness and released from her the demons that controlled her mind. I wonder if she smiled to think of the new life that He gave her or if she was too torn with grief to even consider it.
But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; 12 and she *saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 And they *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She *said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and *saw Jesus standing there, and 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.” 16 Jesus *said to her, “Mary!” She turned and *said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher).
John 20: 11-16
How could she not have known that she was speaking to Jesus? Was it too dark in the tomb? Was she too sleepy or upset? Did she miss the angels sitting there? How many times had she heard Jesus’ voice? How could she have missed Him standing right in front of her?
Maybe a better question would be, “How often do we do the same thing?”
When we go to church, we expect to meet Jesus. When we are praying or reading the Bible, we expect to meet Jesus. When we go to work…do we expect to meet Jesus? When we’re doing the dishes, cleaning the house, and trying to get our children to stop fighting, do we expect to meet Jesus? Perhaps Mary didn’t recognize Jesus because she wasn’t expecting Him.
And this thought makes me ponder how many times a day I miss Him. How many times is He prompting my heart, but I am not truly listening. How many times do my own griefs and troubles drown out the sound of my Shepherd’s voice?
But then He calls her attention; she recognizes Him; and I can just imagine the excitement in her heart. He is standing before her, alive! I don’t know about you, but I would fall straight down on my face, too. I would never want to leave his presence, and I don’t think she intended to. You see, Mary’s relationship with Jesus was based on His physical presence. She needed to be physically near Him…and who wouldn’t want to be? But we can’t miss what Jesus tells her next:
17 Jesus *said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene *came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.
John 20: 17-18
Stop clinging to Me.
Stop clinging to Me?! But Lord, isn’t that what you want? There is no place that I feel more refreshed and whole than at Your feet! I love my quiet time and my small group and my coffee/prayer talk with my Christian friends and my pastor’s sermons and my…
Stop clinging to Me…Go and tell what you have seen.
And there we have it: the missing piece. In a world that is starving for authenticity, starving for the Truth of the One who can save them, we have chosen instead to sit and soak on all that we are “learning” rather than share what we have seen with the lost.
Don’t misunderstand me: there is NOTHING more important than our intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing! But if no one ever hears the Gospel, have we really fulfilled our purpose?
We imagine America as a “Christian” country, but according to Pew Forum’s 2014 poll, only 25% of Americans are evangelicals. Only 13.1% of the entire world is evangelical Christian. Considering that 108 people die every minute in our world, I’d say we have work to do.
So this brings us to the subject at hand: how do we move beyond the boxed up version of Jesus in our prayer closets and recognize Jesus’ prompting in our daily lives? How do we truly share Him with others and move from a mindset of “me” to a mindset of missions?
First, we must EXPECT to meet Jesus…in every moment of every day. We must pray for open eyes and an open heart. We must train our ears to hear our Shepherd’s voice, even in the most unexpected places. And we must realize that there is so much more to the Christian life than simply overcoming our own trials. We must look at the bigger picture: the Kingdom.
And we must share what we have seen. No, Jesus didn’t “need” Mary. He would’ve appeared to the disciples either way. But He allowed her to be part of what He was doing, and her obedience grew her own faith and prepared the way for His appearance to them. This set the standard for what He requires all of us to do–go and tell! I once heard a missionary say, God calls; the Holy Spirit convicts; Jesus saves. Your job is to tell the story. We see the same principle at work here. Mary was commanded to tell what she had seen, and Jesus followed. Oh that the same would happen for us– that we would share our stories only to have Jesus Himself show up!
19 So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and *said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
John 20: 19-21
I can’t even fathom the awe of the disciples when Jesus appeared. I’m sure they were eager to see Him establish His Kingdom, the one they believed would be on the earth. But Jesus’ Kingdom would look different than they expected, and His instructions would be simple ones: Share the Gospel.
He showed them His hands– the same ones that were pierced for our transgressions. The ones that were nailed to the cross that we should’ve borne.
He appeared to them after rising from the dead– the incomprehensible realization that He not only died for our sins but that He overcame death for us.
He prepares to ascend to the Father, the same one that He says is also now their Father because they have trusted in Jesus. The Father who is now restored to them.
You see, the Gospel is not some long story that we have to memorize. We are all broken, but God didn’t leave us that way. He sent His only Son who lived a perfect life and sacrificed Himself on the cross to pay for our sins. He was buried and arose three days later. He offers us eternal life and restoration with the Father if only we believe what He has done, believe that His sacrifice can save us, and trust Him to be Lord of our lives.
See? It’s that simple.
So how does that translate to missions?
Jesus is sending us. He tells us to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:20), and He tells us to start in our own backyard (Acts 1:8). When is the last time we truly asked the Lord to break our hearts for the lost that are right in front of us? For the lost in our city? For the lost in our country? For the lost around the world?
No one on earth has the exact same inner circle as you. Only you have your family, your friends, your coworkers, your routine, and the people that you encounter every day. Have you considered how to reach them? Have you considered that God has placed you exactly where you are for a purpose bigger than you? Are you complaining about the disgruntled people around you, gossiping about the wild coworker, judging another’s parenting skills, comparing yourself to the ones who seem to have it all together… or are you recognizing that some of these people are LOST?
One thing is certain: being a “good” person is not enough. Posting a Scripture on social media is not enough. Hoping that someone will magically ask you if they can come to your church will likely not happen, and even if it does, there’s no guarantee that they will come back.
YOU must SHARE the Gospel…and you must LIVE it, too. Yes, you!
So that’s a start…because missions isn’t location specific; it’s a mindset.
Then there’s your city, your state, your country, and even the ends of the earth. Because Jesus is worth it. Because He commands it. Because our joy overflows to the point that we can’t help but share our REAL, PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP, not some scripted version of religion. We must share what we have seen, just as Jesus commanded Mary to do.
It’s time to stop sitting and soaking, and go out there and get our feet dirty. Then we should repeat the cycle and soak again…then go and tell again. And this should be the beautiful race that we run because the world is still lost…and it is our job to share the Gospel.
How Can You Get Involved?
- Minister to your family– remember, Jesus commands us to make disciples, not converts! How are you reflecting Jesus’ love to your family members? How are you talking about all that He has done? Who are you discipling right now?
- Work, Kid Stuff, Daily Activities: Identify a few people that you can build intentional relationships with. How can you share with these people?
- What are your spiritual gifts? Are you using them?
- Who can you encourage that is outside of your typical friend group?
- Where can you serve? (Greeting, singing, media, teaching, stocking pews, preparing food, children, youth, college, etc.)
- Sit by someone who is sitting alone and talk to him/her!
- Connections: Participate in community outreach such as writing letters, making phone calls, going on visits, and participating in events that help to share the love of Jesus.
- Foster Care/Adoption
- Pregnancy Resource Center
- International Student Ministry
- Chinese Church
- Family Care Home
- Mercy Ministries
- Kids at the Cross
- Prayer Walking
- Adopt an ASU football player
- Christian Men and Women’s Job Corps
- Prison Ministry
- Children’s Homes
- Forrest City Church Plant
- Spokane, WA church plant
- Seattle, WA church plant
- Alaska church plant
- Brooklyn, NY church plant
- Denver, CO church plant
- Santa Barbara, CA church plant
- Montana “Fry Bread” church plant
- St. Louis, MO- outreach before Pastor’s Conference
- New Orleans- Global Maritime Ministries
- Cote d’Ivoire
- South Africa
- Nicaragua (youth)
Want to know more about any of the CBC opportunities above? Contact Bro. Danny at Word Campus! 🙂