Word of the Month

Easter blessing

April 2007

The Lord is resurrected! “Jesus lives, with Him live I,” it says in a hymn. The resurrection of Jesus as portrayed in Holy Scripture was accompanied by many peripheral events which are very significant and have a great deal to tell us.

While reading the Easter story, I was struck by the events around the time when Mary Magdalene came to the tomb of Jesus and saw that it was empty. At first she began to despair, but then she saw someone whom she took to be the gardener, and spoke to him: “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away” (John 20: 15). This showed how much she loved the Lord. Then the supposed gardener revealed Himself – He did so with a single word: “Mary!” (John 20: 16). This address touched her soul deeply. It must have been like balsam for her to recognise that this was the Lord! What unexpected joy and happiness it must have brought this woman who had been so despondent at not having been able to find the Lord earlier.

Mary Magdalene thought it was the gardener who stood before her. She could not imagine that it might be the Lord. Her view had been directed at the earthly. It was only once the Lord touched her soul with this single word that she was able to see clearly again and gain a deeper insight.

Is it not at times the same for us? In the divine services we may perhaps only see “the gardener”, or the human being. It is not a given that we will immediately recognise that it is the Lord who stands behind the man. We often see far too much of the earthly, that which is before our eyes – the gardener, so to speak – and do not recognise that it is the Lord who has come to meet us in the person of the ministers.

After this encounter Mary Magdalene returned to the disciples and testified that “she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her” (cf. John 20: 18). Now there was no more talk of any gardener. How beneficial for us if we are able to say: “I have seen the Lord, and not merely a human being,” when we speak with the ministers or after having been in a divine service.

It is good if we can recognise the Lord even in adversity, in things that are not to our liking. This requires a special way of looking at things. And it requires a sensitive soul. We must allow ourselves to be touched by the word of the Lord. Jesus Christ did not give a long sermon at that moment. A single word sufficed to open Mary’s eyes. May we also be receptive to the activity of the Lord and feel it even in simple words. Let us then open our souls in the firm belief: This is the Lord!

That is what Easter signifies for us, namely that we recognise the Lord in His activity – be it through a pastoral care discussion, the divine services, or a family visit. May we too be able to say: “I have seen the Lord and this is what He told me!” From every divine service and every encounter with the ministers let us take along that which the Lord tells us. I am quite aware that the ministers have shortcomings. But if we can say: “I have seen the Lord and He has spoken these things to me,” then we will be blessed. That is Easter blessing.

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)