My Father and Your Father, My God and Your God

My Father and Your Father, My God and Your God

Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you
from God, our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. My dear
brothers and sisters in Christ, the text for this morning comes from the Gospel

This is a special lady, Mary
Magdalene, because of what God chose her to proclaim to His blessed apostles in
that locked room who were gathered there because of their own fears. God took
this woman out of whom he had driven seven demons and placed in her lips the
very words to speak to His apostles. Words that she did not have to make up in
her own head. Words that she did not have to figure out and find the right
construction. Words given to her from the lips of her Lord. No different than
you or me. We don’t have to come up with new jingles to speak to someone about
our faith, but merely the words that God has already given us, things that He
has accomplished in us and through us and to us by these proclamations. These
are the things that continue to extend the kingdom in this world.

Now, our doors are not locked as
they were nearly two thousand years ago, but the doors of the church were
locked for nearly three hundred years after Christ had ascended into Heaven. For
the church was a persecuted lot, accused and ridiculed and mocked, crucified
and burned at the stake and thrown to lions and wild animals in the great
arenas of Rome. All in fun and jest. But we are gathered here because we’re
different and set apart from the world, just as the church has always been. And
though we live in a day where we can still remember the grand days of old when
the church was the favored child of our nation, it is no longer so, and it is
becoming more and more apparent that what we are gathered around here to
confess and believe is markedly at odds with the rest of the world. Markedly at
odds with the rest of the world as it was in the first few centuries and as the
church has always been. And that’s not a difficult burden but a very difficult
burden to bear because we are set apart. But the same thing that empowered
these apostles to go forth from that closed room with fears in their hearts was
God’s Word delivered to them by Mary, and it is the same thing that God uses
for you and me gathered here in a nation and in a world that totally disagrees
with what we are proclaiming and preaching, believing and confessing to be
true. It is what empowers and emboldens us to leave here.

But notice how God does these
things. That is very important indeed, for we all wish to have that emboldened
courage. We all wish to have the ability to speak loving and kindly, but to
speak clearly and succinctly of truth that there may be confidence brought
about and wrought by such truth. The kind of stuff that is substantive, not a
spiritualizing philosophy, but flesh and blood substance like the resurrected
Lord revealed Himself to Mary and to these blessed apostles. Flesh and blood.
Not spiritualizing. Not philosophizing. Not memory making, but real concrete
flesh and blood. The same kind about which Job wrote and confessed. “Yet in my
flesh I shall see God. Yea, with my own eyes I shall see Him. How my heart
yearns within me.”

So when she sees the Lord, she does
not recognize Him because she’s so overwhelmed with grief and sorrow. Many of
us have been blinded by such grief and sorrow over many things. I had a phone
call that kind of shook up my house about a good friend of my beloved bride, a
high school and even church friend with whom she grew up, whose son who was the
same age as our son took his own life because of the many demons that he
struggled with inside of his very mind and heart. That does cause one to stop
and ponder. It causes one to look at and shake your head and….Why? That’s the
kind of world we live in, but it’s nothing new, is it? The church has always
existed in such a world with tragedy and grief that overwhelms us, crushes us
seemingly, and leaves us not recognizing God’s great grace and gifts. And
instead of coming with pomp and circumstance and a trumpet’s horn does Jesus
quietly reveal Himself and gently to Mary by merely speaking her name,“Mary.”
She grabs hold of Him because she does not want to lose what finally her
physical eyes have seen, but having touched and embraced flesh and blood, mind
you, resurrected flesh and blood, does Jesus point her to something that’s the
same but different. Different in that He will not reign in the world and in the
church in the same way that He reigned for those thirty-three years in a
physical form to be seen, touched, and handled and tasted. Same in that He has
and will continue to rule the world, but especially manifest in the church, in
the room where the church gathers with resurrected body and blood. Something
you can taste, touch, see, and hear just as Mary and the apostles did.

That’s the kind of comfort that God
wishes to proclaim to you in the midst of grief and things that do not make
sense and overwhelm us. It is not mythological. It is not a fairy tale or
merely something to remember. It is real. As real as the person whom you have
an arm around or sit next to and feel warmth from the flesh. It is as real as
the sound of their voice in your ears, as the shape of their body before your
eyes, and the smell of their own perfume or cologne or just the smell of them
like a little boy or little girl that we love to put our noses to their heads
and smell that soft baby smell. That is Heaven, brothers and sisters. That is
how Jesus revealed Himself to His holy apostles through Mary’s proclamation,
first and foremost.

And the message He told her to
proclaim, “Go tell my brothers,” it’s the first time and only time that God in
the flesh refers to His believers as brothers and not friends as He spoke
earlier. If he refers to you and to me as brothers, we are then sharing a
common Father. Common in the fact of our faith. By nature for Him, it is His
Father. By faith and grace, we call Him our Father. Same thing. He is my God
and your God. By nature, He is His God. By faith and grace, we call Him our
God. And if we are brothers, then we will inherit what our Brother Christ
Jesus showed Himself to be to Mary, a flesh and blood resurrected person, God
in the flesh. Not a specter or a ghost, but a real live person, and in the same
way that He revealed Himself to Mary, so He revealed Himself to the disciples
when He appeared to them in the locked room for fear and spoke words of peace
to them that they would be comforted by not only the words of proclamation but
by flesh and blood that they would touch and see and hear, just as we gather here
to hear those same words preached to us, to touch Christ our Lord and to taste
and hear Him who comes to us in flesh and blood and not in abstraction but an
incarnation that brings comfort to His people, the church, and sustains us, the
bread from Heaven during our pilgrimage in this God-forsaken world.

This is your and my hope that we
leave here with and are comforted by. And as Mary left the Lord’s presence with
confidence and trust, though she had physically let go of Him, so we, though we
leave this place, are still comforted because here is where we have heard our
Lord speak our names and speak words of peace to us, where our Lord lays upon
our lips and our mouths His very self to bring us that which alone brings peace,
which is forgiveness. And where there is forgiveness, there is Christ, and
where there is Christ, there is life. And where there is life, there is always
great joy and peace.

John’s Gospel is the only Gospel
that contains this great proclamation of Mary to His blessed apostles. Later on
in that same chapter is read that which we sing before we have the Gospel
reading read to us. “These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is
the Christ, the Son of God. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.” Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your
hearts and minds on Christ Jesus to life everlasting.