When Jesus Calls Your Name

Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).   John 20:16

Of the four Easter accounts in the New Testament, the one in John’s gospel is the most personal to me.

When I think of all the times when I stood in the presence of Jesus the Christ, but was entirely unaware of his presence, that is to say, when I did not recognize him as such, I know only too well the conflicting emotions raging through the hearts of Jesus’ disciples.

Peter and John are scared, confused, and bewildered by what they see and hear and touch, and yet cannot believe.

Mary Magdalene, on the other hand, meets the risen Christ but is so overwhelmed by her grief that she does not recognize him for who he is. She takes him to be the gardener and wants to know what had been done with her Lord’s body. Only when Jesus directly speaks her name does she become aware in whose presence she stands.

What power there is in a name! I tend to think our parents put considerable thought into naming us. And even if we end up with a popular name that is shared with many others, there is only one of us, and our common name becomes special precisely because of who we are as a unique person.

Mary is one such familiar name in Jesus’ time (as is the name Jesus coincidentally), but there is only one Mary, the Mary who is in the cemetery that first Easter morning. And all Jesus has to do for Mary to recognize him is to call her name.

I find it interesting that Mary seems to have her back turned on Jesus, for when he speaks her name, “she turned,” and as she turns around, she knows immediately who it is that spoke her name.

There are moments when I am desperately looking for God but cannot find him because my back is turned. And God, who does not play “hard to get,” gently and tenderly calls me by name, and I turn toward him, and am found. 

Thanks be to God who knows you by name, who loves you, and who calls you and walks beside you!

Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!

Pastor Daniel Hofmann