George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
Turning Back to See
She turned herself back, and saw Jesus--Joh 20:14
The Love of Mary
We must remember that Mary in the garden was eagerly seeking for the Lord. She was filled with a love that would not let Him go. Others might leave the garden in despair: Mary must still haunt the sacred precincts. It was dark, and the soldiers were about. This was no place for a solitary woman. "But," says St. John, "there is no fear in love," and the love of Mary swallowed up her fear, and she was alone in the garden, seeking Jesus. Right in front of her there was a grave, and Mary scanned it, but Jesus was not there. In the grave were two shining ones of heaven, but the shining ones were not enough. When the heart loves somebody very much, not even the shining presence's of heaven can take the place of the beloved. Then Mary heard a rustling in the grass. It was not in front of her; it was behind her. Instantly the angels were forgotten--might not this be the footfall of her Lord? And then, in words that seem but incidental, yet are fraught with an infinite suggestiveness, we read that she turned herself back and she saw Jesus.
Turning Back to the Old Testament We See Jesus
Think how true that is of the Old Testament when we recall how the Old Testament was written. Holy men of God, we read in Peter, spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Now, when a man is moved by the Holy Ghost, there is much in his utterance quite beyond his grasping. If that be true of the deepest words of genius, how much more of the words of inspiration! Men speak to their own times and their own countrymen, but if they be moved by the Holy Ghost their words have issues they can never follow. So David wrote his Messianic Psalms. So Isaiah wrote his fifty-third chapter. Moved by an inward passion they were preachers: moved by the Holy Spirit they were prophets. And now we, like Mary in the garden when the sun was rising on resurrection morning, turn ourselves back, and we see Jesus. It is His love we see in Canticles; His triumph in the Messianic Psalms. It is His bruised form that meets us in Isaiah; His sacrifice we find in the slain lamb. "Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself."
Turn Back and Become Like a Little Child to See Jesus
Again, think how true this is of the spiritual wakening of the soul. Take the matchless story of the prodigal. When he came to himself in the far country, he did not go forward on a further pilgrimage. He did not press on into more distant lands, in the hope that there he might be satisfied. He turned himself back, and found his soul again. "Except ye become as little children ye cannot see the kingdom," says the Lord. No one becomes a child by going forward. One only becomes a child by turning back to simple faith and to unworldliness and to the trust which every child displays in the providence and provision of a father. No wonder Nicodemus was astonished when the Lord said, "You must be born again." How could he, a grave and reverend seigneur, turn himself back into his mother's womb? And then one thinks of Mary in the garden, longing for a glimpse of the Beloved, and she turned herself back, and saw the Lord.
The Church Needs to Turn Back to See Jesus
And what is true of individual life is true also of the larger life of Christendom. Whenever Christendom has been refreshed and quickened it has been by the way of Mary in the garden. The Church has never been revived by novelties: it has always been revived by turning back to a simpler faith, to a lost vision, to a rediscovery of the Lord Jesus; to something which is as old as Calvary and which has been lost to view in the dull years till it shines again on resurrection morning. Luther did not deal in novelties. He sent the Church forward because he turned her back to the forgotten doctrine that the guilty sinner is pardoned and justified by faith. And then one thinks of Mary in the garden, when right in front of her there was a sepulchre, but she turned herself back, and she saw Jesus.
In Retrospect, You Can See Jesus
Think lastly how true this is of the year drawing to a close. Is not a time like that given for looking backward? The present has a strangely blinding power. It is always difficult to read today. Today is so compact of little things that one can scarcely see the forest for the trees. It is never harder to trace the love of God and His wisdom and the ordering of His providence than in the detail of the passing day. Like the man who stands too close to the oil painting, we stand too close to today to see its meaning. We very rarely fathom anything in the actual moment of its happening. But surely many who read this are just like Mary on resurrection morning when she heard the footfall of the Lord behind her. They recognize that Someone has been guiding, though at the time they could not understand things. They recognize that mercy has been busy, though at the time it was all dark to them. In the hour of retrospect and memory, catching like Mary the rustling of their yesterdays, they turn themselves back, and see the Lord.
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