Sunday, April 16, 2017

Reflections for Easter: A New Label

Gut-wrenching grief, anxiety, fear, loneliness, despair. 

These are all emotions that may have washed over the women as they made their way to Jesus tomb that Resurrection day. It was their tradition to anoint the body with spices. It was a way to bring closure to death.

They must have walked with heavy steps and dread. Their eyes were red and swollen from weeping. All of their hopes had pinned on this one man who claimed to be the Son of God. They had seen him die one of the most horrendous deaths known to man. And now he was gone. Their hopes died with him. How could they go on without him?

Imagine their shock when they reached the tomb and saw the heavy stone rolled away from the entrance. Time stood still. What was going on? Was this another ploy of Herod and the Jewish leaders to trap Jesus’ followers. Would there be Roman soldiers inside ready to arrest them? Would Jesus body be disturbed because of grave robbers?

When they finally looked inside the empty cave, two men in gleaming white stood there. In their terror the women fell to the ground and heard the words, "He is not here." "He is risen!" "Why are you looking for him here?" "Didn’t you understand what he said?"

One of these women was Mary Magdalene. She had been a woman cursed and her life before she met Jesus was one of sheer torture. She was afflicted with the possession of seven demons. Who knows what their affect was on her life. It could have been physical, mental, emotional, moral, or all of these combined.

Yet, Jesus had looked at her and delivered her from this oppression. From the moment of her deliverance, she was a devoted follower of him. However, she still carried that label. Even after her deliverance, she was known by the disciples as Mary, of the seven demons.

People know us by our sin. They shun us, talk about us, judge us, ignore us. Jesus knows our sin, but he also knows us by what we can become. People see our impossibilities. Jesus sees our possibilities.

Let’s see the labels of those that God chose to be part of his story while here on earth.

"Unwed, teenage mother"
"Poor blue-collar worker"

In Luke 4:17-19 Jesus says, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."

Jesus came to set the captives free and his ministry on earth was to those he came to set free. He also used them to share in His ministry.

The point of the resurrection is that death, which is finality and the ultimate prison was broken when Jesus rose. He was set free from the confines of death and in so doing, he broke the chains that enslave us all. As a result, your labels are gone. When you turn to follow him, you are no longer known by the label that imprisoned you.

I love the words of the song, Cry out to Jesus by the group Third Day.

Because the tomb is empty, we have hope. 

Because he is not there, we have grace and forgiveness.

Because of the resurrection, there is rest for the weary.

Because of the risen Savior we have mercy and healing!

Because of God’s love we have a new label – beloved, chosen, forgiven, renewed, precious, and wanted.

He is risen!  Alleluia!