Mercy: "Mercy Rising"

Pastor Terry Inman

04-16-17

 

Today we will put an exclamation mark on our 40 DAYS of MERCY series. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is all about Mercy!

So let’s call today’s talk…Mercy Rising!

Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene a woman he had freed of seven evil spirits. Then Jesus told her to tell Peter, a disciple who had just denied he ever knew him, at his trial. Now that’s incredible mercy!

 

Later Peter writes, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1Pet. 1.3)

 

Here’s how we are defining, MERCY. It is undeserved forgiveness and unearned kindness. The Resurrection is all about mercy for all of us!

 

Let’s read this story from the book of Mark. “When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it. (Mark 16.9-11 NIV)

 

I saw an article online this week that said 30% of so-called Christians don’t believe in the Resurrection. Sounds like fake news but it’s understandable that we all have doubts. Thomas needed evidence.

 

Mary didn’t believe her own eyes at first. Then she heard him call her name. He was the same Jesus that had mercifully changed her life!  

 

Hollywood typically casts Mary as a recovering prostitute who had some kind of romantic attraction to Jesus. Some revere her as a saint others consider her a female disciple. Someone even theorized that she was photo-shopped out of Leonardo da Vinci “Last Supper” painting. Easter eggs are even attributed to her. According to legend following the death and resurrection of Jesus, she met the Roman Emperor Tiberius. She held an egg in her hand and exclaimed, "Christ is Risen!"

 

The Emperor laughed, and said that Christ rising from the dead was as likely as the egg in her hand turning red. Before he finished speaking, the egg in her hand turned a bright red and she continued to proclaim Christ.

 

Our kids are having an Easter egg hunt today after church. Where did this custom come from? Some say it’s pagan, but eggs are a symbol of new life and rebirth. Early Christians spread the tradition of painted eggs from modern (Iraq-Iran), to Russia through the Orthodox Church.

 

Mary Magdalene may not live up to all these legends but the truth is—her simple story stands as a powerful testimony to God’s incredible mercy!

 

Some biblical scholars connect her with the “sinful” woman who appeared at a dinner hosted by a Pharisee. She poured expensive oil and tears over Jesus feet. In deep gratitude for his mercy she kissed them and dried them with her hair.

 

This was more than the typical foot washing. Jesus’ religious host perceived it as the inappropriate behavior of a woman of the streets.

 

Jesus chided his host for neglecting hospitality. He did not wash his feet, give him a brotherly kiss, or anoint his head with oil. Jesus said of the woman. “I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little." (Luke 7.47)

 

The bible does not specifically state that Mary was a prostitute, but it is very clear that Jesus did free her from life-controlling evil spirits.

 

The bible says. “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” (Acts 10.38)

 

Mary Magdalene is a model; of all who have been under life controlling influences and experienced God’s forgiving and freeing mercy!

 

According to Luke, Mary and some other influential women who had also been cured of evil spirits and illnesses were followers and supporters of Jesus and His disciples.
(Luke 8:1-3 MSG)

 

One of the highlights of our recent trip to Israel was visiting the recently excavated ruins of the synagogue and marketplace of Magdala, a small village along the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

 

Mary was probably a successful beautician there. The Hebrew Talmud mentions a Mary of Magdala who was a “braider of women's hair". One of her clients may have been her close friend and follower of Jesus, Joanna. Joanna was the wife of Chuza, King Herod’s personal assistant.

 

Mary of Magdala was very influential. She passed on Jesus mercy to many!

The Gospel of John goes into a little more detail of Mary’s encounter at the empty tomb. She was sobbing as she bent over to look in the vacant cave. She was stunned to see a pair of angels in white now occupying the space where Jesus body had previously been placed.    

 

They asked her an obvious question, “Woman, why are you crying?” Dazed by grief she responded, “They have taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where they have put him.” (John 20.13 NIV)

She turned to what she thought was a gardener. He called her “woman” a common way to meet a stranger. “Why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Again she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” (John 20.15 NIV)

 

Jesus spoke her name, “Mary”! Her familiarity quickly returned. She turned toward him and cried out in common Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (Teacher).

 

She threw herself in the dirt holding on to his feet. Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20.17 NIV)

 

He wasn’t brushing her off. He was just saying, “I will be closer than ever”.

I am now returning to “our” Father. You can have His love living in you!    

 

The bible says “A NEW DAY will dawn on us because our God is loving and merciful.” (Luke 1:78 NIV) Circle the word “merciful” in your notes. Let me share our definition of mercy again. MERCY is undeserved forgiveness and unearned kindness.

 

Let’s consider a couple questions. First, when do I need God’s mercy in my life? Second, what difference does it make? How is it going to change me? How does my life get any better? What are the results?

 

There are hundreds of ways God’s shows us his mercy. Today lets conclude with just three. When we are ashamed. When we are angry. And when we are afraid we need His mercy.

 

Mary Magdalene lived her life in shame until she met Jesus. Having demons in your life isn’t exactly affirming! Now you may not have demons but they may have you. Something dark may be dominating your life.

 

If there is anything that seems out of control in your life, you may be subject to some form of dark harassment. The bible calls Satan a thief.

He attempts to steal life from us. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10.10 NIV)

 

We are all like Mary Magdalene, a bit broken but very blessed.

 

The Apostle Paul describes God’s incredible mercy towards us…

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.

 

All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.(Eph. 2:1-3 NLT)

 

It doesn’t end there. Here’s the mercy! “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.

(Eph 2.4-5 NLT)

 

God wants us to trade our shame, our anger, and our fear for His great mercy. So, how to we receive His mercy? We simply express our heartfelt hope in Him and His resurrection also gives us new life!

 

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom. 10.9)

 

He has an incredible plan for us. He wants to us to trade our shame our anger our fear for his mercy! I want to lead you in an expression of faith in our Resurrected Lord now.

 

“Dear heavenly Father thank you for mercy. Thank you for sending your Son the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive my sinfulness and give me your mercy. I receive you Jesus as my Lord. I give you the lead in my life now.

I receive your gift of new spiritual life now and forever. AMEN

 

Welcome to God’s forever family. Happy Easter! Mercy is Rising!