What Would Your One Word Be?
By Bernadette de Wit Quaife (Otorohanga, New Zealand)..
(All Scripture quotations taken from the NKJV).
Recently I read an article titled BEHOLD! in which the writer, Rodney Francis, challenged his readers to consider one word that would summarize the Bible in a meaningful way. My word is found in John 20:16 and is the word MARY. Allow me to explain why the word MARY is so special to me.
“Again Mary Magdalene was standing outside the tomb, where the body of Jesus had been laid after it had been taken from the cross. It was the second time she was there. When she had found the stone rolled away, and the tomb empty, she went to find Peter and John to tell them about it. After they had run to the tomb and found that the body of Jesus was gone, Peter and John went back to their homes. Not Mary though. She lingered on near the place where she had expected the body of her Lord to be. She was weeping, she was confused and she could not believe that the tomb was empty. Needing to make sure, she again looked into the tomb. By then, the tomb was not empty. Two angels sat where the body of Jesus had been. They saw how distraught Mary was, and they asked why she was weeping. She told them that, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.’”
She called Jesus “my Lord” because that is what Jesus was to her. Mary was trying to find Him. She needed to be near Him. When she turned around Jesus was standing right in front of her and He spoke to her. Mary did not recognise Jesus until He spoke her name. She thought He was the gardener. Because of her tear-filled eyes she could not see properly. She may not even have looked up but just assumed it was the gardener. Jesus was so different from when she had seen Him last. That time Jesus was marred beyond recognition. Now He had a new, glorified body with only the marks in His hands and side remaining as an eternal token of what it cost Him to redeem mankind.
It was not until Jesus spoke her name, when He said, “Mary,” that she knew it was Him.
Jesus could call the name of anyone who sincerely and diligently seeks Him. He looks for people with a heart so longing for Him that nothing else matters to them but finding Him. Jesus wants to use people who pursue God and the fullness of what He promised according to Matthew 6:33 , “Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”
A person who has been called may at times, like Mary, miss seeing the Lord or things pertaining to God. That can happen when they do not recognise what is right in front of them. It might be an answer to prayer, a provision, a message, or anything else coming directly from the heart of God.
We can come to the Lord, seeking Him even while we are being hindered by our own preconceived ideas. We can look, seek, even seek diligently, and yet not see what we are meant to see. It is possible to seek wholeheartedly yet miss what God has for us, because we may have unresolved issues or even sin in our heart. Sin and hurt - or in Mary's case, grief - obscure our view in the spirit and can partially, or totally, block us from hearing the voice of God. Grief can consume us and keep us from that which we need most. We can have a legitimate grief, which the Lord understands, but one that He wants to replace with His love, through the fullness of His Spirit. He wants to enable us and give us His mandate so that “whatever He says to you [us], do it ” (John 2:5 b), thus we can fulfil our God-given destiny in this world. We not only have to be willing but also be alert, expectant and obedient to Him.
If we are to seek effectively, we need to be able to hear and recognise the voice of Jesus. Then we can act on what He says. We need to hear the voice of our Master, Lord, Teacher, and the Lover of our souls. In order to do this, we need to know His voice, distinguishing it from any other. We need to recognise His voice amongst other voices, hearing Him loud and clear, even when He whispers ever so softly. His voice needs to be foremost, over and above our own internal voices. The negative internal words that seem to have been captured ‘on tape,’ perhaps on many tapes, can repeat themselves in our minds. They can play over and over because we, like Mary, are unable to find the STOP button by ourselves. Sometimes we cannot find the STOP button because our minds are more focussed on the problem at hand than on being committed to finding the solution, regardless of the cost. Other times it could be that we are looking for the answer in the wrong places.
The world would look for a man-made button displaying the word STOP. The world looks to the things designed and developed by man. Its recommendation for Mary would probably have been to see a holistic counsellor, consult a psychologist, a psychiatrist or any other person who had been trained in ways to relieve people’s pain and problems through an acceptable form of treatment from a humanistic perspective. They may even have recognised that Mary had a spiritual need, and referred her to support groups where people explore their feelings and needs, with the objective of finding themselves ‘inside their own self.’ A modern day Mary might have found herself with a stack of self-help books to read too.
The world does not know the EVERLASTING STOP button. That button is called the JESUS button, which can halt the playing of any negative, self-destroying and repetitive internal tapes. This JESUS button does more than put a halt to negative thought patterns though. No matter how many negative thoughts there may have been, no matter how long they have been there, they will be replaced by God-inspired thoughts of truth and love.
Mary was caught in an emotional and mental maze of grief. Her internal tapes kept playing, which prevented her from recognising the situation at hand, and they dulled her to the presence of Jesus.
The enemy knew the situation. The authorities knew that Jesus had said He would rise again. They had heard it with their natural ears and sought a natural solution. They had taken steps to make sure He could not get out of the grave, nor could His disciples remove His body. How mistaken they were, how fruitless their efforts. That which is impossible with man is not impossible with God. All things are possible with God (see Matthew 19:26 ). God’s Word is truth and that which had been prophesied surely had to come to pass.
We need to hear His voice over and above the voice of self and the voice of the enemy. Walls, buildings and even graves may be built to keep us away from the One most dear to us, but all to no avail. Jesus said He came to build a Kingdom built without hands. Nothing that can be seen, neither any powers of darkness can keep us separated from God. We who belong to Jesus are connected within the spirit realm. We alone can block our sense of connectedness. Satan cannot steal it nor break it, but he does his very best to conceal it, sometimes succeeding for a moment, a while or a season - it all depends on us. How sharp is our spiritual hearing? How sharp are our spiritual eyes? How sharp is our ability to see in the spirit?
Mary’s natural eyes may have been blinded, and a lack of expectation may have dulled her general hearing, but her ears were attuned to the voice of her Master calling her by name. When He called her by name, “Mary!” the darkness became light in her and grief gave way to joy. What a moment of joy, revelation, recognition and connection that must have been.
From that connection came direction. Mary was obedient and stepped onto her path of destiny. She became the first person to receive an assignment from the Lord after He rose from the grave. Commissioned to speak forth specific words to specific people, she became the first prophet under the New Covenant, speaking forth the Word of the Lord. There can be no doubt that she also stepped into the role of an evangelist, having seen the Gospel manifested right before her very own eyes. That which a few days earlier was impossible under the old religious system, had become possible in the new relational system, a system that introduced people to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. The old had gone. The new had come.
John the Baptist spoke the word, “Behold!” when the Old Covenant was coming to an end, while Mary was the first to actually ‘Behold’ at the commencement of the New Covenant.
Mary was called by name by the One Who knew her by name, and she responded. She ‘beheld’ Him after she heard Him. She listened to Him and obeyed His voice. She prepared the way for people to receive the Risen Jesus (John 20:17-19 ) after He had established the New Covenant; much like John the Baptist had prepared the way for people to receive the Jesus Who was about to bring closure to the Old Covenant, in order to establish the New Covenant.
Names are more than just names. Each name represents a person created by God. When our name is spoken by the One Whose name is above every other name, and we hear His Voice, there begins a process of change leading to eternal consequences. We ourselves are changed forever, longing to hear His Voice again and again. Now we are willing to wait on our Lord and spend time with Him so we can ‘behold’ the One Whose voice called us personally by name out of darkness into His glorious light.
May we all be ready to hear Him, behold Him and obey Him. All praise be to God Who gives to us so liberally of His Spirit, His precious Holy Spirit, to help us, guide us and connect us with the Lord any time, in any place. May He continue to draw us, and call us to ‘behold’ Him so that we can receive what He still has to reveal to us.