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038 - The Magdalene

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin
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April 17, 2021 2:35 pm

038 - The Magdalene

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin

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April 17, 2021 2:35 pm

Episode 038 - The Magdalene (17 April 2021) by A Production of Main Street Church of Brigham City

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You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?

Is there something here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink.

Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages. Welcome to More Than Ink. Hey, have you ever seen something that was so shocking you just couldn't quite get your head around what actually happened?

I know, it seems impossible, but it happens all the time. And you might see the details, but it doesn't penetrate. Yeah, and so today when we get into John 20, you're going to have people who look into the empty tomb and they still will not believe.

They just don't get it. Today on More Than Ink. Well, a warm welcome to you this morning. I'm Jim. And I'm Dorothy. And we are literally, literally sitting here at a dining room table, cups of coffee, some water, and the Word. And that's not a bad combination.

Oh, that's the best combination. And we're glad you've joined us on taking a look at this. We're in John 20. We've been working our way through John.

And we're outside of the normal, I guess, what do you want to call it? The Christian calendar? Because Easter is coming on the calendar, but we're pretty close.

Oh well, we're just a little out of sync. But we can talk about this all year long. That's right. We don't have to peg it to the calendar.

That's right. It doesn't have to be Easter, but that was just a couple weeks ago. But anyway, yeah, we're in John 20 and this is the remarkably good news after a very hard weekend for the apostles, the followers of Jesus, after He's crucified, dead, and buried. And for the entire weekend, there's nothing. They hear nothing and they don't know what's going to happen. And so they're sitting around, probably not just sitting around, but they're sitting around and they're waiting for the first opportunity to do anything, which would be right after the Sabbath expires. Right.

And so now at the sunrise of the next day when the Sabbath is finally expired, the action takes place in John 20. I think they probably had been up all night. Oh, they could be, yeah. Because you know, when you have suffered a traumatic loss, your sleep is impacted. They couldn't sleep. Right.

They wouldn't have been able to sleep for kind of playing and replaying it in their minds. And according to Jewish law, they couldn't do anything until the Sabbath was over. So as soon as the daylight dawns, and actually the Sabbath would have ended the night before, but they don't go out until daylight.

Yeah. And actually, if you go to Mark's Gospel, he gives us a little preview of what we're going to look at today. Because in Mark's Gospel, he says that the sun had not come up yet, actually.

So it's very close to the dawn. And I'll talk about that a little bit more later about why some of these accounts talk about when the sun's rising, when it's light, and stuff like that. But yeah, it turns out that what we're going to look at today in the first half of John 20 is the narrative behind Mark's comment that he says that he appeared first to Mary Magdalene. And it's such a straightforward narrative.

Yeah, very straightforward. So he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, but in Mark's Gospel, he doesn't tell us much after that. But John's Gospel does. And John includes details that none of the other writers do.

Yeah, yeah. Actually, actual words out of Mary Magdalene's mouth, which we don't have in any other place. So what a great privilege it is to read John's Gospel, because he really fills in the gap. Most of everything we're going to look at in John 20 for the next two weeks is omitted from the other Gospels.

But it fits with it. So that's why I want to talk later about that. So let's just jump right in and see what happens after everyone's holding their breath over the weekend and maybe everyone can't even sleep, they're staying up at night. You want to start us into verse one of chapter 20? I'm going to read from one through 10, because that's the first part of the story. Now on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early while it was still dark and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, they've taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they've laid him. So Peter went out with the other disciple and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came following him and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who'd reached the tomb first also went in and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not understand the scripture that he must rise from the dead.

Then the disciples went back to their homes. Pretty straightforward narrative. Well, it is. It strikes me there's some really typical male-female things going on here. What? What are you talking about?

Male-female things? You mean like they didn't really believe her until they went and took it up themselves? Well, yeah, she's just a hysterical woman. Right. And Peter being Peter, he doesn't even take a breath.

He just goes right in. Right. I've got to see this for myself. Well, at least they believe her enough to go run to the tomb. Well, yeah. They could have said, ah, no, you're crazy.

Yeah. Well, what else are they going to do? Can you imagine the shock, though, of going, you know, you have seen your dearly loved one buried and going with the thought that you will have a private time to mourn and perhaps to go in and anoint the body properly and then getting there and finding the grave robbed. Yeah, that would be so disappointing. Empty. Oh, disappointing. It would be horrific.

It would, I would come unglued. Yeah, yeah, something's afoot. You know, that's why she makes that claim right there. She says they've taken the Lord out of the tomb.

Right. And I don't know. We don't know where they've laid him.

Where they've put him. Yeah, this is, yeah, it was just really after such a hard weekend. And then this is like, who needs us on top of all that? It's almost like over the whole weekend, it never even occurred to any of them to remember that he had said, but I'll rise again on the third day. Yeah, well, and John tells us straight up. I know, they didn't yet understand it. Verse nine, for as yet they didn't understand the scripture that he must rise from the dead. They just, that was not even fact thing in their head. Well, they had seen him raise Lazarus. They had seen him raise other people from the dead. Right. So they should have, I mean.

But it just didn't penetrate. They had heard him say. Cognitively.

I am the resurrection and the life. Right, right. Do you believe this? And we can look at all this and say, what's your problem guys? But the trauma of that weekend is more than we can even start to imagine. And then to have what looks like a grave robbery on top of it. Right. I mean, that's just devastating. That's devastating. So she comes, by the way, I did want to point out in verse one, it says that she came while it was still dark.

Yeah. Now, if you read the other passages, you'll find them in Matthew 28 and in Mark 16, Luke 24. Those passages, it looks like they're slightly different accounts. But one way to sort of dovetail them all together is to look at the timing of the sun. Because in this particular passage in John, it's the only one that says it was still dark. So when you read these passages, and we encourage you to do that, they're not in conflict.

It's just that it takes a little bit of work to stitch them together. And when you do that, you find out that this account of Mary coming to the tomb alone is actually the first of several visits that morning. And we know that because it was still dark. Right. And she was the first one to come. And Mark says, yeah, Mary Magnum was the first one that he appeared to.

So this is it. Well, and one of the things that becomes very clear when you read all the different accounts is that eye witnesses are zeroed in on different details. Right. Right. And that we don't get conflicting accounts as much as we get details from totally different perspectives.

So that they complement each other. Yeah. It's so, so interesting. And that's one of the things that tells us that this is a real, these are real eyewitnesses account of a real shocking thing. Right. Because each person would fix on whatever detail they were cued up for. Yeah. In courtroom testimonies for witnesses, if you have multiple people seeing the same thing, if they give the exact carbon copy story.

It's exactly the same. That's trouble. And it points you to the fact that they sort of got together and they got their stories straight. Right.

So it would all sound consistent. Right. But if they are slightly different within a certain amount of slightness, then that usually indicates an authenticity about the different witness testimony. If they're contradictory altogether, then you know something's wrong.

But you know, it's interesting when people are remembering a traumatic event, and we have some, a little bit of personal experience with this, sometimes when we replay the events as the years pass, you kind of think, well, now what order did that happen in? Yeah, right. Now, I remember that that happened, but did this happen first or did that happen first? And it doesn't change the outcome. Right. And it doesn't change the facts of the thing. Right. But it does, your memory is affected by your emotion at the time. Yeah, that's exactly right.

But the key issues of what happens are still the key issues. Nobody disputes that the tomb was empty. Exactly. And I think that's one of the biggest takeaways through all the gospel accounts is the fact that no one debated that the tomb was empty. Right.

It was empty. And that, not only was it not debatable, it was inspectable. I mean, anyone could go and walk to that tomb and look and see, you know, there's nobody in here. Well, and no one disputes that the women were first. Right, that's right. Which is really interesting.

The first witnesses, the first people who received not only the information, saw the thing, received the information from the angel or angels, depending on which account you're listening to, and were told, you go tell the men. Yeah. I love that. That might be kind of the man-woman thing here. It's one of the things. Because I think part of the resistance to Mary Magdalene coming is that, wait, where his apostles? Right. If anything's going to break loose, we're going to be the first ones to know.

Right? But from Mary's perspective, it's like, yeah, but you weren't at the tomb. I was. So, you know, I saw it. So the Lord actually honors her in a great, great way. And not only is she a woman, which is a very second-class citizen in ancient cultures, but it's Mary Magdalene.

Yeah. She's a second-class, second-class. She's a second-class, second-class. In fact, in a couple of Gospels, it tells us that, well, the Marquand, in fact, says that she was the one that he had cast seven demons out of. So she had quite a checkered past. People knew her as kind of whacked out from that. And she's the only one of the close followers of Jesus that we have that particular kind of a detail about.

That's true. That of all the people Jesus cast demons out of, she's the only one that we know specifically then became part of his inner circle. Yeah, yeah. And it's very interesting. You know, there's a lot of crazy supposition about Mary Magdalene out there over the years.

Too bad. But if you track her through the Gospels, she most often appears in the lists of the women who accompanied Jesus and supported him out of their own needs. Yeah, yeah, exactly.

She's side-by-side with the mother of Jesus, Mary, who gets high accolades. And that tells us that she may not have been a real young woman. Yeah. She may very likely have been his mother's age. Yeah, that's very likely.

But with a long, difficult life, having been influenced by demons for so much of it. Yeah. So with Mary Magdalene kind of being the center of John's story right here, we need to caution you. Don't listen to too much folklore in public discourse about who she is. Yeah, no, look at the text.

Look at the text. You can use Bible software or a concordance and you can zero in on Magdalene and you can find every place she's mentioned in the Bible. And if it's outside of that, I would kind of question it and say, you know, I think we're getting into folk Christianity. And that actually, her name comes up quite a bit in folklore. Yeah, well. Well, crazy made-up mythology.

Exactly, exactly. But if you just stick to the text, we really know very little about her except that she was in that inner circle of women who accompanied Jesus. And she had demons cast out of her. And she was at the cross and she was the first one at the tomb. Right. And her devotion was great. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it's almost symbolic of the fact that Jesus came to seek and save the lost and boom, she is one of them without question. Yeah.

Without question. So what do you make of the grave clothes? Well, I was going to ask you that. Oh, I asked you first. Well, it's such an interesting little detail. Isn't it? Yeah. And I've heard a lot of things. Not just in this Gospel. Right.

Yeah. But I have not dug into it deeply enough to make a definitive statement about the significance of that face cloth being folded up and put another place. That is an interesting detail. And we could sit here and speculate for days on that. We're not going to speculate.

We're not going to do that. But it's an interesting thing for you to do because it's there quite prominently in John's Gospel. And you can walk around scratching your head saying, well, what does that say?

I'll tell you to me what it says. I mean, simply not just the head cloth, but the whole thing. And if you want to debunk the grave robber theory, grave robbers don't come and take a body and unwrap it. Right. They just yank the whole thing. They just take the whole thing and go. So it's probably one of the most powerful statements against the fact that it was stolen. That just doesn't make any sense. And it's why I find it interesting that Mary Magdalene goes as far as saying, well, someone took the body, but they left all the clothes behind. Right.

Why would you unwrap a body? Yeah. It's nutty. Yeah. It makes no sense. Yeah.

I mean, it seems rather interesting and people have speculated maybe a little bit too far on the grave clothes. Well, but the fact that it was folded and set aside is significant. That's very significant.

That implies personal attention. Yep. Yep. Right. He's communicating something. Yeah. Something very deliberate. Yeah.

Yeah. I mean, it's like if you had guests over for dinner and you gave them linen napkins at the end of the dinner. If they just kind of take the napkin and drop it on the table and go, oh, that's one thing.

But if they sit there and they carefully fold it. It's kind of going, I don't know what that means. But there's something very deliberate. It's a sign of presence. Yeah. Exactly. A mindful handling of details.

Something quite deliberate just happened. Yeah. Yeah.

So you can go that far on that and that's not a big deal. I might just mention in passing the Turin, you know. Oh, the Shroud of Turin?

Shroud of Turin. A lot of people think this is that. I don't know. Well, why don't we even open that box? But it's not even worthwhile talking about.

Yeah. I just know people bring that up when you talk about this entire thing. Because our purpose here is to stick to the text. Stick to the text. What has God ensured got written on the page for us to know for sure.

Because John says at the end of this chapter, I've written these things so that you can know. So let's stay on the page. Yeah. Let's stay on just to what's there. So you want to push on into the next section?

I think we really need to because this is so important. So the disciples, John and Peter, have gone back. Yeah, since they went back to their homes. They ascertain the details and they just went home. They're like, okay, he's gone.

We can't do anything about it. But Mary, this is verse 11. Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. And as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had lain.

One at the head and one at the feet. Isn't that interesting? Peter and John didn't see the angels.

Nope. And they said to her, woman, why are you weeping? And she said to them, they've taken away my Lord and I do not know where they've laid him. And having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, woman, why are you weeping?

Whom are you seeking? Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, sir, if you've carried him away, tell me where you've laid him and I'll take him away. I want to stop there for a minute because those questions that why are you weeping is a significant question because if Mary is one of those who had believed him and he had said, I'm going to die, but I will rise again.

I will come back to you. It's a logical question. The angel's like, okay, why are you here weeping?

Do you remember he told you? And she's still looking for a body, right? And Luke's accountant says that the angels say, why are you looking for the living among the dead? Yeah, because you know, if she actually believed the resurrection was going to happen, she'd be standing out the side of the tomb, dancing around with their arms in the air saying it's happened.

It's happened, but she doesn't. She mourns. So even in asking that question, why are you weeping? It's not because Jesus and the angels don't know why she's weeping.

It's for her to understand. It's kind of a self exploration question. Who are you looking for?

Are you looking for the one who is still dead or are you looking for the one who is living? Yes. So it's kind of an introspective thing. Often God asks us questions, not because he's in the dark, but because you're in the dark. Yeah.

Oh, I can think of a million examples in scripture of God asking people questions and Jesus did it all the time. Yeah. You know, it makes me think of the end of the Jonah account, you know, when it closes that last scene, sitting under where the plant was, and God says, so do you have a reason to be angry? And of course, God knows what's in this heart.

It fascinates me that Mary is weeping and she cannot see Jesus in front of her face because she's looking for a dead body. Yeah. Right. And that's symbolic in a lot of ways that we get so overwhelmed in our circumstances and the trauma of our circumstance that we can't see and we can't hear almost.

It's like that presumption, that false understanding, that false presumption, it blocks out our ability to even hear God and to see him in the circumstance. Until he calls her name. Yeah. Isn't that interesting?

It's so, so beautiful. He says, Mary, Mary, you know, like, look at me. Mary. Yeah.

Yeah. She turned and said to him in Aramaic, Rabboni, which means teacher. And Jesus said to her, do not cling to me for I've not yet ascended to the father, but go to my brothers and say to them, I'm ascending to my father and your father, to my God and your God. Oh, Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, I have seen the Lord.

And that he said these things to her. Yeah. That's great. And this is just amazing to me. Yeah.

Yeah, it really is. And here's Mary Magdalene of all people in the center of all this entire thing. And the other gospels tell us that the women, that there were a couple of women at this point and they fell down and worshiped him. Right.

Right. But John doesn't tell us that. John just tells us that Mary, he called her name and she immediately identified him. You know what that reminds me of? You know the passage about the sheep and the shepherd and the sheep understand the voice of the shepherd. The sheep hear my voice.

Yeah. And Mary calls her name, boom, she gets it, she hears. In the midst of it, it just cuts all the way through the cloud of that trauma, the cloud of those emotions and her grief at this point and feeling like she's been, I don't know, kind of victimized by someone stealing the body of Jesus. I mean she's got all that stuff going on and yet he cuts right through that by just saying Mary. So, you know, once she has locked in and said, oh, you are my teacher, teach me, enlighten me. Jesus says to her, don't go on clinging to me because I haven't yet ascended to the Father. Let's talk about that for a minute. What do you think he means? About not clinging? Yeah.

I have a couple explanations of it, but again, this is where we can talk about this for days. But right after this statement he makes, he says, you know, you need to go tell the apostles. Right. So it could very well be just one simple way of saying, you know, this is not the time and place. You need to go and talk to the apostles. This is not the time to cling.

You need to go and talk to those guys. So it could be in just the most shallow sense, could be a way of his saying, well, you need, you know, not now, you need to go talk to those guys. Yeah, but it's so much bigger than that. It is, it is. But I think that's just the beginning start of, and that sort of makes sense. But the meaning of that word don't go on clinging to me means don't go on hanging on to in order to influence me. Right.

Right. Like Lord never leave me again. Now that I've got you, I'm going to hold on to you. And he says, no, it's not about that because I'm going to ascend to the father.

And he remember I had told you I'm going away, but I'm going to send you a comforter. So you know, he's, I think at the deeper level he's saying to her, don't go on clinging to this physical body because it has to go away in order for the whole plan to work for the spirit to come and indwell you. And I think, I think that's really central to the taking on this is that, you know, if, if, if in their minds, they're forgetting about the fact that he's going to raise and that's a deliberate issue and he dies and then he comes back again, their presumption could be, well, if he's back, then we're back on track, we'll keep doing what we have been doing before. Right.

Just like Lazarus went on living. Right. So he's trying to nip that in the bud and say, no, we're not going to go on exactly like it was before. Things are changing. I am going to the father.

I mean, things will push on, but in a way you don't expect and it won't be physical like this. So yeah, I think that's exactly what it is. He emphasizes my father and your father, my God and your God, like remember I had told you, I'm going to prepare a place for you so that where I am, you can be and the father and I will come to you, make our abode with you. I mean, think back all the things he had said to them a couple of nights before and when they heard him pray, father, I want them to be with me where I am. Yeah. Yeah. So, so she needs to know that we're pushing on in the plan. It's not just going back to the old plan. There's a new plan coming, which includes the Holy Spirit.

I mean all that kind of stuff. I think that's what's going on here and Jesus will say things later to the apostles that says pretty much the same thing, especially if you read the first chapter of Acts. But in this, but as we come kind of close to the end of this, isn't it, isn't it just really touching about in her trauma and the blindness and the deafness of her trauma that Jesus fulfills, you know, what the Psalmist says in 34 about being near to the broken hearted and she's clearly broken hearted here and Jesus doesn't let that get in the way and he does that by just in a very personal, unique way, saying Mary and then explaining to her because she asks, Rabona, you're the teacher, tell me what's going on. Right, right. Yeah, cause this encounter, you know, we tend to think it take 10 seconds to read it, but it probably took a little longer than that. Probably.

Yeah, probably. But it's just such a wonderful, it's just a wonderful touching fill in of just Mark 16, nine that says he appeared first to Mary. Well tell us more about that. And John says, here you go. But isn't it beautiful that Jesus himself, the risen Lord says to her, now you, I'm trusting you, go and tell the men, go and tell the brothers, I'm here and I'm going to my father and your father.

Right. What a tremendous honor. You know, Jesus could that early morning just say, let's go back, I'll go with you.

But he says, I want you to go back and tell him. He gives to her this extraordinary honor of being the herald, the first person in all of humanity, the herald of the resurrection to these guys who were closest to him. That's amazing. It's just a great thing. And again, another evidence that this is something that really happened because no first century writer would ever entrust this kind of legal witness to a woman. Not in a million years. And certainly not a woman of Mary's previous reputation.

So yeah, it's, it's so, so beautiful. You would not write a fictional story like this. It doesn't make any sense. So I would encourage you take your concordance and look up Mary Magdalene or Mary of Magdala and see where she occurs in the gospel stories.

What is said about her. You need to read that for your own eyes and see exactly what is said and what is not said. And then that kind of gives the full flower to this story here. It's almost like the Lord was saving her for this very moment. Exactly.

Yeah. It's just, it's astonishing. Such warmth, such an honor, such a, such great love that Jesus has for in the midst of this.

It's really something else. So we're glad. Thank you, John, for including this person. And you can imagine how appalled they were when she comes and says, I've seen the Lord. And they're like, well, you've seen him, but why haven't we seen him? We're the apostles. Well, it's only going to be a few hours until he comes to them.

That's right. But it is going to be an awkwardly long day until he does so. Well, she probably had to repeat the story dozens of times.

I know. And many people weren't interested, were interested in what she was saying and they had to wait until late in that evening. So I would encourage you to place yourself in this story as you read it, ask, you know, how would I respond? Where am I? What would have attracted my attention? Lord, what do you say to me?

Yeah. Why are you weeping? And indeed in the chaos and trauma of life, Jesus comes to us individually and speaks our name and we respond and say, Robonai, teacher, and I'm yours. So anyway, I'm Jim.

And I'm Dorothy. And we've run out of time, but we'll come back to the second half of John 20 next week. And we're just so delighted that you're with us. And we hope that you read forward with us in John 20, because this is More Than Ink. Bye bye. More Than Ink is a production of Main Street Church of Brigham City and is solely responsible for its content. To contact us with your questions or comments, just go to our website, That was a pretty good take. It was good. In three, two, one.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-30 17:55:34 / 2023-11-30 18:08:27 / 13

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