It's crazy how a pair of glasses was all the disguise Superman needed. Not even closest friends Jimmy Olsen or Lois Lane knew
that Clark Kent was Superman underneath those specs. Just a little change—and blue tights—and they didn’t recognize him.
We laugh at the silliness of it. But do we do the same thing? Do we always see someone who holds the ultimate power, ultimate justice and ultimate grace? Do we always recognize Jesus?
This week, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, who stepped down from glory to become the perfect sacrifice to redeem us. Without Him, we had no hope.
So even though it’s Christmas, let’s skip ahead to Resurrection Sunday. The 20th chapter of John tells us that on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. But He wasn’t there!
Later, as she stood sobbing outside the empty grave, “she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’
“Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’
“Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’” (John 20:11-16, NIV)
Get this picture. She’s just been through the most traumatic week of her life. What a roller coaster ride. A week earlier, Jesus had been on His way to Jerusalem and the way the crowd greeted him, He was ready to take over the world! It was going to be AWESOME.
Then things went horribly wrong. Jesus was arrested. There was a joke of a trial. He was beaten. Disfigured. Stripped of all dignity. Hung on a cross. Killed.
Everything Mary believed in—or thought she believed in—was gone. She did not recognize what was happening. Would you have had it figured out had you been in her place? C’mon. Hardly likely. This was stuff way beyond anything that had ever happened before, way beyond any concept they personally knew.
It was over.
Now she couldn’t even prepare the body for proper burial. Absolutely nothing was going right.
She unloaded on the gardener: “Where did you take Him? Have you no respect, man? Let me at least clean up that bloody mess and make Him presentable for the grave.”
Mary did not recognize Jesus standing right there in front of her in His resurrected body.
Then He said her name:
I wonder how he said it. With impatience? Scorn? Sarcasm? Rebuke? You know, all the ways we talk to each other.
In my mind, He spoke her name softly, with tender compassion: “Mary.”
And her whole world changed. Again. It was Jesus! She screamed with delight.
How does Jesus say your name?
Does He walk with you when your head’s spinning and patiently remind you of what Scripture says about the circumstances—and Who has overcome the circumstances?
When wind and waves rock your boat, does he stand up and speak peace? When you are just done, done, done with life, do you hear Him cheer, “Get up! It’s not over.”
When you can’t find Him anywhere, do you hear Him whisper your name in a voice full of love and compassion and healing?
Yes, this week is Christmas. But do you know why he was born? To give you this gift: He came to say your name.
(This post originally appeared Dec. 21, 2020, on the Storyteller Squad.)