“Pure Religion and Undefiled”!

 

10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

11 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,

12 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.

13 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.

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

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

16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

17 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. Jn. 20:10-17

Jesus told Mary, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” Jesus was on a mission. In fact He was on the greatest ‘ministry’ that will ever be carried out on earth, and probably in heaven.

It would appear that Jesus had just resurrected and He was on His way to Heaven. He was on His way to do something that we cannot possibly describe in human terms: He was about to present His own blood to God the Father as the sacrifice God was awaiting in order to forgive humankind’s sins, past present and future (Heb. 9:12).

Jesus was about to ascend to God the Father! He was about to perform the greatest act of all time, the presentation of His blood to God.

The mission Jesus was on was so important and it was so far removed from the human realm that He could tell Mary, “Touch me not!” And it is the very act of revealing Himself to Mary at such a spiritually ‘sensitive’ time that brings the profundity of it all out.

Why would Jesus who was on this very sensitive heavenly mission reveal Himself to Mary at that particular moment? He could have let the angels deal with her, and they would have ministered to her satisfactorily.

But there are small things that Jesus notices, which we sometimes don’t. Just as He was about to ascend, Jesus saw Mary weeping. He saw deep into her heart, and He felt her grieving. And no, Jesus would not leave a grieving Mary. Jesus must have told God the Father, “Father, I know this is way outside the assignment at hand, but please bear with me; I need to minister to someone here.”

God is love. I am aware of preachers today who are so ‘holy’ they are no earthly good. I saw one self-styled prophet in my country telling someone on live TV, “Go look for another pastor to deal with your problem, if you are not ready to reveal your need in public!” The man was thinking more about his ‘prophetic’ ministry than that sister, whom he pushed away so rudely. His ministry involves ‘confirming’ what people tell him, and he makes sure every detail is clearly filmed on TV. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

But God is not about theatrics or vain glory. God is love. Jesus felt Mary’s grief, and it touched His heart. And His love for her was so much that He could not just leave her there grieving. He revealed Himself to her and in that manner offered her the biggest comfort and consolation she could ever imagine!

And He loved His disciples so much He just had to give Mary a personal message for them.

What heart do we have towards people? Are we so very ‘holy’? We couldn’t possibly be holier than Jesus was at that very moment that He ministered to Mary; and we couldn’t possibly have a more important ‘ministry’ (towards God) than Jesus had at that particular moment. And yet at that very moment (and probably breaking every rule in heaven) Jesus thought of Mary and His disciples above everything else! What love! What ministry!

Let us be men and women who carry the heart of Jesus. Religion without love is dead. Actually, the Apostle James ties a holy life to our actions towards those who are in need or suffering. In James 1:27 he says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

That’s the heavenly combination: living a holy life and ‘visiting the fatherless and widows in their affliction.’ It is not one without the other. The two complement each other.

[Below: No ‘ministry’ is greater than feeling someone’s heart]

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