Today’s Scrip-Bit 18 July 2021 John 20:15a.

John 20:15a.     Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?

Oh my people, a new day has opened, and with it, as always, comes the Lord’s new mercies and compassions! Wow! What a wonderful God we serve and worship! And today being Sunday, His Day, we are gathered together, by whatever means, technological or in reality, with the lifting of some of the pandemic restrictions, to give Him thanks and praise and glorify His holy name. 

So please join with me in opening with a song of worship, one that’s ever so reassuring and comforting to a believer’s heart and soul. It’s titled ‘In the Garden (He Walks with Me).’ We are talking about our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ there, and the analogy seems to be linked to the Resurrection morning when Mary Magdalene surprisingly encounters Jesus in the garden close to where He had been buried. 

The author, American born, Charles Austin Miles (1868-1946) originally trained as a Pharmacist, but according to the Hymnary.Org website ‘in 1892, he aban­don­ed his ca­reer as a phar­ma­cist and wrote his first Gos­pel song, “List ’Tis Je­sus’ Voice” which was pub­lished by the Hall-Mack Com­pa­ny. He served as ed­i­tor and man­a­ger at the Hall-Mack pub­lish­ers for 37 years. In his own words: It is as a writ­er of gos­pel songs I am proud to be known, for in that way I may be of the most use to my Mas­ter, whom I serve will­ing­ly al­though not as ef­fi­cient­ly as is my de­sire.’ 

Now, hopefully, most of us believers could, and would make some such life-defining statement re our work for Christ. (smile) Anyway, ‘Inspired by the gospel of John, chapter 20, this hymn celebrates the joyous companionship its author experiences with Jesus as he walks through the garden.’ So let’s sing it now in a bright soulful manner. Let joy ring out from our hearts and souls, as we walk and talk with our Saviour. 

‘I come to the garden alone, While the dew is still on the roses, And the voice I hear falling on my ear, The Son of God discloses… And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other, has ever, known! He speaks and the sound of His voice, Is so sweet the birds hush their singing, And the melody that he gave to me, Within my heart is ringing . . . 

And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other, has ever, known! I’d stay in the garden with Him though the night around me be falling. And He bids me go through the voice of woe, His voice to me is calling… And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other, has ever, known! (Repeat) 

Oh friends, how beautiful, how reassuring and comforting it is talking to our Lord and Saviour! That brings us to this further commentary on the Hymnary.Org website. ‘One occasionally hears stories of someone who disappeared and was assumed dead suddenly reappearing to their family and loved ones in a joyful surprise. 

Imagine how much greater Mary Magdalene’s shock and elation was when Jesus, whom she had seen dead and buried three days earlier (Mark 15:40, 47), suddenly called her by name and she turned and saw Him, very much alive and in person (John 20:16). This hymn elaborates on the emotions she may have felt in that moment, when her grief was turned to joy.’ 

Can we imagine Mary’s joy and relief? I don’t think so nuh. To be able to truly appreciate that moment and the overwhelming joy that comes from it, one has to personally experience it. It’s like when we say to someone else: ‘Oh, I know what you’re talking about, or going through.’ But we really don’t, or can’t, unless we have experienced the same experience (smile) or something very similar. 

However, putting all of that aside, I think it is worth recounting the story as told by John in the Good Book. Some of us only draw out the Resurrection Story on Easter Sunday, but it’s something that should constantly be on our minds, because without the Resurrection of Christ, there would be no salvation or eternal life. It is possibly the most important aspect of our faith, because if Christ had not risen from the grave, His birth and crucifixion would have been useless. 

Anyway, back to the story. There is Mary, standing at the empty tomb that Sunday morning, filled with grief, crying her eyes out, when the two angels who sat at the head and feet of the tomb ask 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. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back (turned around), and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 

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 (carried him away), tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say Master (Teacher). 

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not (do not cling to me); 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. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.’ (John 20:13-18) 

What an awesome experience my fellow saints. Can you imagine the disbelief, doubt and confusion that ran rife through that crowd of scared believers?  No more or less than what still runs rife between us two thousand years hence. But let me not show contempt for our faith, or lack thereof. (smile) Instead, here are some explanations from the scholars on Jesus’ words to Mary. 

‘20:17. Touch me not is a present imperative, forbidding the continuation of an action already begun, “Stop clinging to me” is a helpful paraphrase. Compare with verse 27, where, one week later, we are told He encouraged Thomas to touch Him. I am not yet ascended: “Do not worry, I am not leaving immediately.’ 

But He had to leave eventually, so that the Holy Spirit could come to indwell all believers thereafter, to lead and guide us in paths of righteousness. And I want to close with this marvellous idea, today would be a good day for us to take a quiet walk somewhere, and contemplate the words of our hymn, as we walk and talk together with Christ about our life. There could be no finer walking or talking partner. Much LOVE!

…when fears and doubts assail…Christ is always there to hear…and help us prevail…                                                                                            

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Today’s Scrip-Bit 5 April 2015 Matthew 28:6 ‏

Matthew 28:6.    He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.                                         

 HAPPY  EASTER ! 

Oh Friends, it’s Easter Sunday… and the promise has come! Yes my people, the promise has come! It certainly didn’t tarry long; for Jesus Christ is risen…He is risen… Jesus Christ is risen indeed my faithful brethren!

And all God’s children burst out in joyful song: ‘He is risen, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Christ is risen! Let the whole world sing, Christ is risen, Christ is risen from the grave! He is risen, He is risen! Oh Christ is risen from the grave! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Let the whole world sing, Christ is risen from the grave!’

Oh what a joyful day in Christendom my people, for Christ’s resurrection means that He has conquered, He has mightily defeated once and for all time hell, death and the grave! He has put Lucifer and all his evil cohorts to flight, has them running for their very lives! Oh what a wonderful Lord and Saviour is our Jesus! He sacrificed His sinless life for us unworthy humans…Glory to God!

That means a whole lot of wonderful things are now open and readily available to us. We’re talking about blessings like atonement, reconciliation, grace, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, LOVING-kindness, eternal life, wisdom and understanding – or as the Rasta breddren say, ‘overstanding.’ For how can it be good if it’s under eh? Hn, hn! It has to be over to be better than average.

Yes Friends, however you want to put it, this Easter Sunday morn is a most beautiful, exciting, wonderful and promising time in the life of mankind! Even the Father is flashing a big happy smile, because He now has His BELOVED Son back, and a whole new set of adoptees because of it. Wow! The world is now a much better place!

Oh my people, let’s certainly enjoy the time, but please don’t get too carried away, because Lucifer and his wicked minions are still around, hungry and looking for any available soft spot to invade our spiritual lives. So during this weekend’s celebrations, let’s once more invoke Granny’s words of wisdom: ‘Sonny boy, please, please remember that drunk or sober, to mind yuh business!’

Oh Friends, I’m not trying to cramp your style, or restrict your celebrations, but it’s just that when we get to celebrating, especially such a joyful occasion as Jesus’ resurrection, we tend to go overboard, and that’s when Lucifer is going to trip us up and make us fall. And we definitely don’t want that at any time at all. So please be careful, do observe a modicum of circumspection in your celebrations. (smile)

Now let’s hear what the Good Book has to say about this joyous, most auspicious occasion. I’m going to try and combine the gospels so that they read sequentially. And as the scholars note: ‘All four Gospels essentially agree in reporting the facts of the Resurrection. The variety of details in each account supplement rather than contradict one another.’  

Sometime during the early morning hours of the Resurrection day things got moving, as Matthew tells us:  ‘And behold there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door (of Jesus’ tomb), and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment (clothing) white like snow. And for fear of him, the keepers (guards) did shake, and became as dead men.’ (Matt.28:2-4)

The scholars inform us that ‘The earthquake and the angel who rolled away the stone, did not come to let Jesus out of the tomb, but to reveal that it was empty and that He was already gone.’

Now Mark joins the story:  ‘And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came upon the sepulchre (tomb) at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great (large). (Mark16:1-4)

‘And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come see the place where the Lord lay.’ (Matt.28:5-6) ‘But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee, as he said unto you. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed:’ (Mark 16:7-8)

‘And they returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest… And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.’ (Luke 24:9,11) But ‘Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple (whom Jesus LOVED), and came to the sepulchre (were going to the tomb). So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.

And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And the napkin (face cloth) that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together (folded) in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and he believed. For as yet they knew not (understood) the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.’ (John 20:3-10)

The scholars explain: 20:8-9. Believed. For as yet they knew not: They believed Jesus was alive, not yet knowing the details of His resurrection.’

‘But Mary stood without  at (outside of) the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept , she stooped down , and looked  into the sepulchre. (This was Mary’s second visit) 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. 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.

And when she had thus said, she turned herself back (around), and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 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 (carried him away), tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself and said unto him, Rabboni, which is to say Master (Teacher). Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not: for I am not yet ascended unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things to her.’ (John 20:11-18) 

The scholars explain: 20:17. Touch me not is a present imperative, forbidding the continuation of an action already begun. “Stop clinging to me” is a helpful paraphrase. Compare with verse 27, where one week later, we are told He encouraged Thomas to touch Him. I am not yet ascended: “Do not worry, I am not leaving immediately.”

Oh Friends, I know that that was not perfect, but I do hope that it gives you some continuity in your reading of Jesus’ Resurrection.  Now get thee out to church and celebrate, worship, and praise our wonderful God and Saviour, for the great gifts of salvation and eternal life that came our way on this special day. Enjoy yourselves with your friends and family too, but remember don’t overdo it. Happy Easter! Much LOVE!

…the greatest words ever spoken…He is risen…Jesus Christ is risen indeed…