INI + AMEN.
Easter in July! That’s what the Christian Church celebrates in July whenever it celebrates St. Mary Magdalene day. Easter. Jesus risen. He was dead, and now He’s not. We know that because of Mary, what she saw, what she heard. She saw and heard Jesus. But then He says something a bit odd: “Don’t cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father.”
“Don’t cling to Me in one geographic spot,” Jesus says. You don’t have to go to Jerusalem or Galilee or the Middle East to find Jesus. That’s because He’s not only risen, but ascended “and sits at the right hand of the Father,” His Father, your Father, too. “Ascended and sitting at the right hand of the Father” means that Jesus is far above all heavens and earth. “He lives and reigns to all eternity” and rules over everything—all time and place.
Risen and ascended, Jesus now has “all authority in heaven and on earth.” And so He isn’t just one place, but He’s wherever He’s promised to be. That’s what happens here. We can trust Jesus here in Bremen, because He’s at work in our midst. His Word is heard, baptism is done in His name, sins are absolved in His name, and His body and blood are given according to His Word.
Mary Magdalene day points us to all of this. Mary Magdalene is an example for us, too. Not because she does anything great, even though she tells others what she saw and heard. No, she’s an example for us because of what the Lord Jesus did for her.
((2. Jesus saved, forgave, and promised to resurrect Mary Magdalene.))
Now, what exactly did Jesus do for Mary from Magdala, which sits on the shore of Galilee? Well, first of all, He saved her. He saved her from the devil, from his power, his kingdom, his demons. Seven demons to be exact. That’s what Luke tells us. “Certain women [were with Jesus] who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities. [One of them was] Mary Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out.” (Lk 8:2) Yes, Mary had been possessed by seven demons, but Jesus cast them all out, saving her, making her His own.
But Jesus didn’t just save her from the devil. He also forgave her. She was a “sinner,” a prostitute. Magdala was known for such things. After being exorcised by Jesus, she comes and wipes His feet with her tears, her hair, and costly oil. This is a sign, Jesus says, “I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much…And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven…Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:47–50)
Finally, she’s the first witness of His resurrection. A promise that Jesus would also raise her from the dead, as He promises: “I am the resurrection and the life.”
Easter in July. Jesus raised from the dead. Mary Magdalene an example of Jesus’ saving, forgiving, and resurrecting. And those three things. He does for you, too.
((1. Jesus saves, forgives, and promises to resurrect you.))
Jesus has saved you. He saved you by dying and rising for you, of course, but now He delivers that salvation to you, salvation from the power and kingdom of the devil. He did it in the waters of Holy Baptism. In the water and the Word, He cast out the demons from you. In Holy Baptism the Father “delivered us from the domain of darkness into the Kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col 1:13-14) We are united to Jesus in Holy Baptism.
Jesus forgives you, too. All your sins forgiven. The ones you do daily and much. Maybe not as bad as Mary Magdalene. But if hers are all forgiven, then yours are, too! All forgiven! That forgiveness is also in the gifts. Jesus has authority to forgive sins, and He sends pastors out with His same authority to forgive sins. There is forgiveness for our sins, and only Jesus’ forgiveness will remove them from us so we actually stop doing them.
Jesus resurrection is yours, too. It is and will be yours. It is already in Holy Baptism, for you were baptized into His resurrection. Jesus continually delivers that promise again and again in His body and His blood, along with the promise of forgiveness. (“For where there is forgiveness of sins there is also life and salvation.”) Jesus wants you to have resurrection to eternal life with Him and so, “This is My Body; This is My Blood; given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” and “whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life and I will resurrect him on the Last Day.” We trust Jesus’ Word and Promise and thus receive the benefit.
Easter in July! What a great gift! Jesus risen from the dead. Dead on the cross for you. Buried for you. Raised for you. Mary’s an example to us. Not just because she actually told other’s what she heard from Jesus. She’s an even greater example of what Jesus did for her, and what Jesus did for her, He does for you.
Saved. Forgiven. Raised from the dead. That is and will be you. That’s what Mary was and will be, too. You are saved. Not just in Jesus’ death and resurrection, but in His death and resurrection given to you in Baptism. Forgiven—that’s ̨Mary and you. Just like Jesus says, “I forgive you all your sins. Depart in peace.” Risen from the dead. That’s Jesus’ promise. A promise seen in His resurrection, but also delivered in the Supper of His body and blood.
JESUS SAVES, FORGIVES, AND WILL RAISE YOU FROM THE DEAD. That’s what today’s all about. What Easter’s all about. Some may just go to their homes, like Peter and John. Yes, Jesus appeared to them and called them back, but there’s no promise He’ll do that for you. He’d let you go. He’d give you what you want: home, farm, sports, work, R&R. He’d let you avoid His Word and Sacrament. And He’d let you have just what you wanted, just the way you live, all the way to a resurrection apart from Him forever. Lord, have mercy!
But Jesus’ promises still stand. JESUS SAVES, FORGIVES, AND WILL RAISE YOU FROM THE DEAD, and we trust those promises, cling to Jesus who made them, and receive Jesus’ Word and Gifts because in His Word and Gifts Jesus is there giving His Salvation, His Forgiveness, His Resurrection from the dead. Mary’s. Yours. Forever.
INI + AMEN.