“Epitome of Unassuming Grace”

“The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre (tomb), and seeth the stone rolled taken away from the sepulchre. 

Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.

Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple (John), and came to the sepulchre.

So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.

And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the lines clothes lying, yet went him not in.

Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,

And the napkin (face cloth), that was about 9around) his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together (folded) in a place by itself.

Then went in also, that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.

For as yet, they knew (understood) not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. 

Then the disciples went away again unto their own homes. 

But Mary stood without (outside) at the sepulchre weeping; and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre.

And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been.

And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

And when she had thus said, she turned herself back (around), and saw Jesus standing there, and knew not that it was Jesus.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seeketh thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto to him, Sir, if thou hast borne him hence (carried him away), tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

Jesus saith unto her, Mary, She turned herself, and saith unto him Rabboni, which is to say, Master (Teacher).

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the first day of the week, when the doors were shut, where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

And when he had so said, he shewed (showed) unto them his hands, and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. 

Then Jesus said to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 

And he when he had said this, He breathed on them, and said unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit (forgive) they are remitted (forgiven) unto them: and whose soever sins  ye retain, they are retained.

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

The other disciple therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except (Unless) I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 

And after eight days again his disciples were within (inside), and Thomas was with themthen came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 

And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet they believe. 

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciple, which are not written in this book.

But these are written, that ye might (will) believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might (will) have life through his name.” John 20:1-31

Even with the millions, billions of words in our human language that could be used to describe Jesus, there are still none that would ever completely describe His grace.

The grace that He extends to us as we try to find our way, as our human thinking tries so unsuccessfully to understand the absolute miraculous

I love so much about the accounts above, they all suffered the same doubts, as all humans would, when faced with his death, a death that most witnessed with their own eyes, and as we are told, they had not at this time, understood, exactly what had been foretold to them.

It has often been asked why He revealed himself to Mary first, and I love what I believe to be the answer, and I love it because it is just such a perfect example of who He is.

Mary needed him the most,

Jesus sees us from day one, our entire life, all the pain, sorrow, and sufferings that many go through, and often some more so than others.

And some do seem to be stronger, while others carry wounds that in order to be healed require a touch so gentle, that it can only come from the Master’s hand.

I also love the verse taht tells us Jesus wept, he wept because Mary and Marth were crying, they were crying because there brother Lazarus died, but Jesus knew that He was going to resurrect Lazarus from the dead, He was crying because it broke his heart to see his daughter weep.

He wanted to comfort Mary and dry all those tears by letting her know that He indeed lived.

Notice also when He appeared to the disciples, he knew that they would be confused and afraid, the first word he says is peace, and while they did not ask for “proof”, He invited them to feel his hands and side.

He wanted them to be reassured in his peace.

And even though we quite often hassle Thomas in our day by calling him “Doubting Thomas”, many would have felt the same, again, knowing that Jesus had been crucified.

But Jesus knew what Thomas had said, and even more so He knew what Thomas needed in order to believe.

And at no time are we told in scripture that Jesus questioned them as to How could they not believe what they had been told, or that he in any way chastised them or belittled them for being human, and having doubt.

Quite the opposite, as scripture says this: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men (humans) liberally, and upbraideth not (without reproach)and it shall be given him.” James 1:5

That means wisdom and understanding of anything, any are, any question.

And that is with the promise that God will in no way make us feel silly, or chided for our need to understand or the need to have our faith strengthened.

Jesus is beautiful and Holy  and there are so many stories in the Bible about just that, His grace toward us, so many examples of letting humans speak their minds, asking for something, while he all the while knows the desire of their heart that they are getting around to asking.

Because for some reason as humans we feel like we have to convince him of the reasoning why we are asking for whatever it is we are asking, but this is not what he asks of us, he just asks us to ask him and believe,

He is so gracious, just as the verses above that He will give us whatever it is that we need to believe, and to strengthen our faith or any other obstacle that need eliminated so that we are not hindered in our walk with him.

Have faith in that today and whatever you need, He has more than enough grace to give it.

Thank you for reading. Love & peace to you till next time! Mention of which, please join me over the next thirty days, as it was on my heart to do a short post, each day, on His teachings.

Starting with this one, so we’ll take a refresher on the Word, straight from The Word’s words!

Φλογιζω NBJ 2022/Rev. N. Brown Johnson

“Nothing to prove”

“The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.

Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre (going to the tomb).

So they ran both together; and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.

And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying: yet went he not in.

Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie.

And the napkin, that was about his head (the face cloth that had been over Jesus’ face), not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together (folded) in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.

For as yet, they knew (understood) not the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 

Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

But Mary stood without (outside) at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre.

And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

And they said unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing there, but she knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou hast borne him hence (carried him away),tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. 

Jesus saith unto her, Mary, she turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master (teacher). 

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

And when he had so said, he shewed (showed) unto them his hands and his side, Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.

Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you; as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost;

Whose soever sins ye remit (forgive), they are remitted (forgiven) unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. 

But, Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was NOT with them with Jesus come. 

The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and out my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

And after eight days again his disciples were within (inside), and Thomas with them; then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 

Then said he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless (unbelieving) but believing. 

And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed. 

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through (in) his name.” John 20 1-31

I love that last verse! “But” these are written… so we can have the choice to believe the Bible accounts and that we can have that choice to accept eternal life, simply by choosing to believe for ourselves, that Jesus was indeed born as a man on this earth to a virgin mother, led a completely sinless life, while subjected to all the traps and snares of this world, even more so than us, and yet without committing one sin.

Something no human can do, and Jesus was constantly bombarded by those demanding that he “prove” himself to them, even as he was suffering, dying, on the cross, they still demanded, “IF you are the Son of God, come down” and so many today have quite the same attitude when they chose to not accept salvation, it is often said, “Well, when God calls I will get saved,”

Bad idea, because God already called, the very first time any of heard the name of Jesus and the message of salvation, we were called and every single say he allows us on this earth that we are aware of the teachings of Christ, we are still being extended that invitation to eternal life.

And when we give all the excuses and somehow think he should chase us down and beg us to serve him, we are not interested in serving God out of love and worship of him, we are in reality acting just like the Pharisees and Jews when they demanded proof of who he was and is, and God answers to no one.

Thomas, poor Thomas, even today, his name is still associated with disbelief, as we refer to perpetually skeptical people as “Doubting Thomases” and doubt often comes from the enemy because he does not want you to believe, and mix that up with human rebellion, people often spend their whole life in misery, looking for happiness, peace, and the meaning of life, searching for “something” while refusing to accept the very thing they seek because they want it on their terms.

Jesus also enlightening us to our blessed state, as he told Thomas, we are blessed because even though we have never saw the Lord, was not present at his crucifixion, never walked Jerusalem with him, did not watch him cast out devils, heal the sick, give sight to the blind, or raise the dead, we still believe, we have chosen to believe and  in that we are blessed.

Once we chose to believe, even when we have not seen him or touched his nail scarred hands or saw the marks from the crown of thorns, we know he is there and we know he lives and we know because he lives, that he lives forever and because he lives, as the Bible tells us, so shall we.

Even though we did not see firsthand all his miracles while he walked earth, we can see the miracles he sends today and we can one day see the resurrection, the resurrection of all who have died in him, as those who are “asleep” in God will be gathered together with him in that glorious day.

This scripture was not originally part of this post, but as I write, it is on my heart, to share this, one more time, 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18:

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first;

Then they which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to MEET the Lord in the air; and so we shall ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

This is the hope, this is one of those many blessings that we are given, the promise that living on this earth, remaining faithful to the Lord, or dying, being buried, cremated, or even, heaven forbid, something so cataphoric that there isn’t anything even left of our earthly bodies, still God will repair and raise those bodies back up.

And you notice in the accounts of Pharisees’ and those of that day, constantly demanding that “proof” of Jesus, and Jesus had nothing to prove to them, but yet when Mary wept, so distraught that she just answered the angels when they asked why she cried, even though they sat positioned as those that adorned the mercy seat, as this was a complete mirror, and yet, she never questioned any of it, she was so distraught and devastated and someone once asked why did he come to her first, and in my mind, like a kid at school, raising their hand, shouting, “I know! I know!”, I do know and many of you do too, and the person asking knew, they just, I believe, wanted people to really, really think about this, she needed him the most.

They were all traumatized, devastated, and their lives turned upside down, going from walking with the one who walked on water to being in total horror, hiding as they knew those who killed Jesus could come at any moment to take their lives also.

And such a dependence on him, and rightfully so, but where would they turn when the one that they had turned to was, in their grief stricken minds, now gone forever.

And while the others hid, Mary sought, she thought nothing of the soldiers, or nothing of the Priests, or the impending doom and death that could have very easily beset her, all that was going on in her mind is that his body was gone and she loved him, adored him, and was determined to find him.

And he came to her.

As we are promised, we will find him, when we seek him with our whole heart.

But this world, and especially the Great Babylon, that demands “proof” of his existence and “proof” of his return, do not seek him, they only use the need of “proof” to excuse their disbelief, thereby in their thoughts, excusing them from adhering to his commands that were given to all mankind, but as we know, there will be no excuses, either we believe or we don’t.

He will bless belief by revealing himself but he will never “prove” himself to appease unbelief.

He has nothing to prove, he is God and he does as he chooses and if we refuse to accept his death and resurrection as the sacrifice for our sins, then we can certainly not blame anyone other than ourselves.

Believe or not, as the old saying goes, one day he will make “believers” of us all, even those whos refuse to repent will still know and see him with their own eyes, and for many, that day will be too late.

So today, if you love him, seek him all the more, as the world grows colder and more belligerent, let your love and devotion to him grow that much stronger, the greater their denial let your proclamation sound louder, be like Mary, she didn’t care that the disciples thought she was insane and refused to believe her report, she didn’t care who was at the tomb, she didn’t care how far she had to go or how she would get there, all she knew is that she had to find her Lord, and that is all we need to remember in these last days, it wasn’t about him and the disciples, or him and the Pharisees, or what the Priests, Pilate, or anyone else thought, said or did, it was all about her and her relationship with him and she was beyond blessed for that.

Love & Peace till next time, thanks for reading!

Φλογιζω NBJ 2021/ Reverend Nina Brown Johnson