Who Will Roll the Stone Away? ( by Carley Evans )

Early in the morning on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Salome bring spices to the grave site of the Lord to anoint His body. Along the way, one or perhaps all of them ask, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb?”

The women know a large stone covers the entrance to the tomb. They see Joseph of Arimathea wrap Jesus’ body in linen, place it in the tomb, and roll a stone against the entrance. The women know a huge barrier stands between them and the body of Jesus. Yet, they are prepared for the anointing. They carry the spices with them.

Perhaps they figure the three of them will be able to move the stone. At any rate, they continue on. Perhaps it doesn’t occur to them that they might move the stone. Perhaps Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus and Salome approach the grave site believing the barrier will be removed for them.

How many times do we face a huge barrier between ourselves and our objective for the Lord? How many times do we just stop moving forward, give up, go home? How many times do we ask, “Who will roll the stone away?” and fail to anticipate the positive answer from God.

Father God, help us anticipate in faith Your removal of all obstacles to Your will for us. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

For the Mighty One Has Done Great Things for Me ( by Carley Evans )

Mary excitedly tells Elizabeth, “My soul glorifies the Lord.” (Luke 1:46, NIV) She declares, “From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is His Name.” (Luke 1:47-49)

Mary glorifies God, not herself even after Elizabeth says, “Blessed is she who has believed what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” (Luke 1:45) And even after Elizabeth says to Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” and asks why she is so favored “that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42-43)

Mary redirects Elizabeth to recognize God’s handiwork. After all, God has been mindful of Mary’s humble state, and has done great things for her. He has extended His mercy; He’s performed mighty deeds; filled the hungry with good things and remembered to be merciful forever. (Luke 1:48,49,50,51,53,54)

Elizabeth’s unborn child who will grow up to become John the Baptist leaps in her womb when he hears Mary’s greeting. At the same moment, his mother Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit. And all this long before the day of Pentecost.

Thank You Heavenly Father for choosing these two women to bless beyond imagining — one to bear the Baptist who will prepare the way and the other to bear the Son of God, who is the Way. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

The New Man Forever ( by Carley Evans )

Bear with me — the following is pure speculation. To some extent this is my understanding of the fall of mankind:

Oddly enough, Eve ate the forbidden fruit first because she was deceived by the serpent. On the other hand, Adam was not deceived. He apparently preferred to please his wife over pleasing God.  In this manner, he sinned. When he did, his very DNA — his genetic make-up was altered. His entire nature changed — he suddenly had what Paul refers to as the sinful nature. Did the same happen to Eve? Something happened to her — her childbearing became painful and her relationship with Adam changed. Her DNA was altered, yes, but was it altered in the same way as Adam’s?

Roman Catholics, as I understand their traditional belief system, say that Mary, the mother of God, had to have been conceived immaculately — as was Jesus — in order to keep her baby from inheriting the sinful nature from His earthy mother. Today, it occurred to me that perhaps the sinful nature is carried on the Y chromosome and not on the X chromosome. Perhaps the sinful nature is inherited through Adam only, and not through Eve at all. The Word of God implies this interpretation could be true. Our sinful nature is always described as ‘the old man.’ Paul writes that all people die because of one man’s sin, the sin of Adam.

The first problem, of course, with my argument is that women are condemned as well as men. The second problem with my argument — and with that of the Roman Catholic Church — is Mary’s life resulted from the joining of Y and X chromosomes, so she had a sinful nature as much as the next person. Perhaps Mary was only a receptacle with the Holy Spirit providing both the sperm and ovum, so to speak. Therefore, Jesus was born without original sin as the new man.

Like I said, this is pure speculation. And may not be of any value to you, the reader. But the fall defines us completely — explains our separation from God, our eternal torment without the intervention of Jesus Christ. That the sinful nature is a very bizarre concept to many intellectuals naturally leads me to ponder. As long as I recognize I am speculating, I feel relatively safe. The key factor is that the change in our DNA makes perfect sense — explaining everything about us. Jesus’ DNA was fundamentally different; as such He was fully human — the perfect human — and fully divine.

At one time, Adam was the perfect human being. He fell into sin, and his nature changed. Jesus had a perfect human nature, and He did not fall into sin. Rather, He withstood temptations and remained perfect; and so is the new man forever.

Full of Grace

At breakfast today in a local cafe, I was glancing at the magazine ART and ARCHITECTURE, looking over beautiful images of Mary, the mother of Jesus, from a book entitled, at least in part, “FULL OF GRACE.”

In Scripture,”full of grace and truth” are descriptors of “the Word” who “is made flesh, and dwells among us.” He is the “only begotten of the Father.” (John 1:14, KJV) “Highly favored” and “blessed among women” are descriptors God — speaking through the angel Gabriel — uses of Mary, the mother of Jesus. (Luke 1:28)

The Word of God is made flesh within the body of the most blessed, favored woman of all time, Mary. She is possibly only thirteen when God the Holy Spirit “comes upon” and “overshadows” her so “that holy thing which is born of [her] is called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

Therefore, when Roman Catholics pray “Hail Mary, full of grace, blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus;” these Christians are — perhaps unwittingly — stating that the grace, with which Mary is filled, is indeed the Son of God. This grace is not hers; she is not full of her own grace. Rather Mary is full of God’s grace for she is full of God Himself.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for overshadowing Mary and filling her with Your grace so that the fruit of her womb became our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May we worship You, and You alone. In Jesus’ Name, amen.