nearer, still nearer

The night stretched long after a painfully quiet Sabbath.  The stillness made the events of the previous day pound in repeat through her heart.  It is very likely she didn’t sleep all night.  By early morning, still before any light of day, she just couldn’t bear it any longer.  She got up, got dressed and went to the only place she really wanted to be – the last place she had seen her Savior – laid in a new tomb.

When she got there, the stone had been rolled away and even in the darkness, she could see that the tomb was empty!  A surge of panic and fear shot through her.  She ran to Peter and John to tell them that His body had been moved, and she anxiously looked to them for help to find Him.  They ran back to the tomb ahead of her and found just what she had discovered – an empty tomb.  Just as perplexed, but beginning to believe what Jesus had told them about His death and resurrection, Peter and John returned home.  She was alone again, but couldn’t leave.

She stooped to look in the tomb again and this time it was filled with light!  Two angels sat where Jesus’ body had been!  They asked why she was weeping.  “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”

She hadn’t missed a single step of her Lord’s journey.  She had traveled with Him, cared for His needs.  She had been close enough to hear His final words from the cross, to see Him take His last breath, and to watch as Joseph and Nicodemus prepared His body and laid Him in that new tomb.  She just wanted to be near Him.  She always took notice of where He was and did everything she could to be close to Him.  Now she couldn’t find Him – and she was heartbroken.

For some reason, before hearing the angels’ response, she turned and noticed a man standing behind her.  In the early morning light and through her tears, she couldn’t make out his features and assumed he was the gardener.  “Please, if you have taken away my Lord, please tell me where He is and I will go and get Him.”

“Mary”

She heard Him say her name and immediately she knew it was her Savior!  Only His voice could sound like that.  Only His heart could communicate so much by just speaking her name.  Grief had clouded her vision, but she recognized His voice speaking to her!  She was too overjoyed to worry about the how or the why, she simply fell at His feet, her beloved Teacher.

We don’t know much about Mary Magdalene, only that Jesus had cast seven demons out of her and from that time, she rarely left His side.  She was eternally delivered and impacted by Jesus and she overflowed with love and devotion to Him.  She just wanted to be near Him – she sought Him out.  Even when He died, she took careful notice of where His body was and went to the tomb to be as close to Him as she could be.  When she saw Him again, she fell at His feet and clung to Him as if she would never let go.  Jesus gently but firmly redirected her, “I have not yet ascended to My Father – Go, tell My brothers that I am alive!”

It just seems that every choice Mary made may have been through a few key filters…

Does it get me closer to Jesus?

Does it keep me near Him?

Does it help me know Him better, recognize His voice more clearly?

How else can I serve Him?

There is *nothing* and *no one* like Jesus!  I can’t get enough of Him … ever!

Passion for her Savior led Mary to the tomb that morning.  He was her first and maybe only priority!  And He met her there.  He gave her a precious gift – she was the first person to see the Risen Savior!  He spoke her name!  He touched her heart.  As her Teacher, He was slowly helping her understand that although He would be ascending to the Father, His Spirit would still be with her.  She would no longer need to cling to His physical body.  As her Lord, He gave her what might have been her very first assignment, to “go and tell.”  He was gently leading her away from paralyzing grief to new joy that would fuel her service for Him!

Mary’s encounter with Jesus on Resurrection Sunday touches me deeply.  I am reminded again that our Savior is so incredibly personal.  His interactions with us communicate volumes in a word.  He knows us individually and meets us exactly where we are to reassure our hearts and lead us to the next step in loving and serving Him well.

Mary’s devotion to the Lord challenges my heart.  How often do I put my own decisions through her filters?  Really it comes down to this – how much can I say “no” to so I can spend more time with Him, so I can seek Him out?   To hear His voice more clearly, to get to know Him better?  What a tender and precious train of thought – not to brow beat me away from less desirable choices, but simply to draw me to the better choice every time…. closer to my Savior… nearer, still nearer to JESUS!

Read more here! – Luke 8:1-3 – Mark 15:37-47 – John 20:1-18 

Psalm 73:28 “It is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the LORD GOD, that I may declare all His works.”

Psalm 34:18 “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those whose spirits are crushed”

closer to Him

Nearer still nearer, close to Thy heart

Draw me, my Savior – so precious Thou art!

Fold me, oh, fold me close to Thy breast

Shelter me safe in that “haven of rest”

 Nearer still, nearer, while life shall last,

‘Til safe in glory my anchor is cast;

Through endless ages ever to be

Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee.

 – Lelia N. Morris (1898) –

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