Child of Weakness

Sunday, April 5, 2015, 8:08 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus Paid It All.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 20 (Selected vv. ESV).

As I read over the words to the song "Jesus Paid It All," and then I read this story of Jesus' resurrection, and of the responses of Jesus' followers to his resurrection from the dead, I was struck with the thought of how, in the song, the writer said he heard the Savior say, “Thy strength indeed is small; child of weakness, watch and pray, find in me thine all in all.” Then, as I thought over what that meant, I realized we were given three examples here in John 20 of children of weakness who had little strength, who needed to find their “all in all” in Jesus Christ. So, that is what I believe the Lord would have me focus on this morning.


Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’ followers, had just witnessed her Lord and friend put to death on a cross, although he had done no wrong. She knew he was dead, and that his body had been laid in a tomb. This was her reality. She was grieving the loss of him and of the manner in which he had just died. Now his body was missing, and she didn’t know where it was. This upset her greatly. For her, this situation of Jesus’ missing body just added “insult to injury.” She was confused and distraught. So, she ran to tell Peter and John.

Peter and John then ran to the tomb to check out her story. Sure enough, they found that Jesus was not in the tomb, though they did find the strips of linen lying there. Peter, who was the only one of the two to initially go into the tomb, also saw the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Then John also entered the tomb, and seeing, he believed. Yet, neither of them understood from scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead. They still didn’t get it. Then, they went back to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. ~ Jn. 20:11-18​

Being that I am a woman, and I am one who deeply loves my Lord, I empathize with Mary’s emotions. Mary didn’t see the big picture. She was looking only at what she could see and witness with her own eyes, and that was her present reality. In her grief, she could not see beyond what had just happened to recall Jesus’ own words concerning what he had told them would take place. Of course, I am assuming here that she was present for some of these conversations which Jesus had with his followers, and/or that she was told of them, concerning what he had said about his death, resurrection and his going back to the Father.

Now Mary looked inside the tomb and two angels of God spoke with her, and she responded to their inquiry. Then, she saw Jesus but she did not recognize him; she did not realize it was him. Jesus then spoke with her, but she thought he was a gardener. It was not until he spoke her name that she knew it was him. When she realized it was him, she cried out “Teacher.”

I can feel that emotion of Mary’s in my own being right now. I know it from personal experience. No, obviously I was not there when Jesus died and was resurrected from the dead, but I do know what it is like to have my hopes and dreams dashed and to be so caught up in my own grief that I fail to recognize Jesus in my circumstances. And, then when he says, “Susan,” and I see that it is him, and he comforts me with his love, I weep with joy, for my hope has been restored. Now, although I don’t understand it all, I am reminded of his words to me previously, some of which I had forgotten in my grief, and I understand and am reassured of God’s absolute sovereignty, care and direction in my life. And then I am able to share with others what I have learned and have experienced concerning Jesus’ love, mercy, grace, forgiveness and his watch and care over us all.

The Disciples

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” ~ Jn. 20:19-23​

Going back for a minute to the previous section, Peter and John, although they were very close to Jesus, had ministered with him day and night for over three years, and had listened to him tell them of what was coming, more than once, still didn’t get it. They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead. So, although they believed he was no longer in the tomb, and maybe they even believed that he had risen from the dead, their understanding regarding Scripture being fulfilled was limited or weakened by their finite thinking and reasoning. So, perhaps they went home to think through or to pray through what they had just witnessed.

After Mary saw Jesus, and she had talked with him, and him with her, she obeyed what Jesus had told her to do. She went and told Jesus’ disciples what Jesus had said to her. I just love how Jesus honored women, and how he used them to spread the “Good News.” He even used them to give out his words to men, not in the sense of having any authority over men, but just sharing with them Jesus’ words, plain and simple, in obedience to their Lord.

So, at least two of the disciples had physically seen that the tomb was empty and that Jesus’ body was not there. And, they had the witness of Mary that she had seen Jesus and of what Jesus had told her to tell them. Yet, they were still fearful of the Jews, so when they gathered together, they locked all the doors. So, when Jesus came to them, he said “Peace be with you,” because “peace” is what they needed right then. They needed to see Jesus and to know that he truly had risen, just as he said he would, and to be reminded of what he had told them, that he would not leave them as orphans but he would send the Holy Spirit to be in them, and that he was sending them out into the world to make disciples of Christ of all people, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey Christ’s commands.


Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” ~ Jn. 20:24-29​

Some people take more convincing than others. Some trust easily while others feel they need proof to believe. Thomas was the kind that required proof. Jesus was patient with Thomas, though, and he gave him the proof he was seeking after. I don’t know that we can build a doctrine around that, though. What I mean is that Jesus also said that unless we come to him like little children, i.e. with child-like faith, we will not see the kingdom of heaven. Yet, maybe some people will gain that child-like faith when some of their barriers to belief are satisfied and/or are dismantled. What I mean is that sometimes people have emotional walls built up inside them due to past hurts in their lives, and so they have great difficulty trusting anyone, most especially God, perhaps. So, God must break down those walls (barriers) first, and then they are able to trust him with child-like faith. And, perhaps we need to be patient with them and with the Lord, trusting in the Lord for their salvation.

So, whether we are like Mary, and we are caught up in our own reality, and in our own grieving process, so we fail to recognize Jesus in our circumstances, or whether we are like the disciples who just didn’t get it, and who did not understand how Scripture was being fulfilled in their lives, or whether we are like Thomas, and we have, perhaps, erected emotional barriers in our own lives to having child-like faith - barriers which must be dismantled before we can fully put our trust in Jesus - Jesus loves us. He cares about us.

Jesus is acknowledging our weakness, and that we are lacking in our own strength, and thus he is calling to us to watch and pray, and to find in him our “all in all.” He is our all-sufficiency to meet every need in our lives. We just have to trust him. Not one of us is perfect. Not one of us has arrived. But, by God’s grace to us, through faith, we can have that child-like faith to trust him, to follow him wherever he leads us, to know his power to change our hearts, and for us to be able to give our all to Him who gave all he had for us.

Jesus Paid It All / Elvina M. Hall / John T. Grape
… your sins… they shall be as white as snow… Isaiah 1:18

I hear the Savior say, “Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all.”

For nothing good have I whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white in the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

And now complete in Him my robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side, I am divinely blest.

Lord, now indeed I find Thy power and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots and melt the heart of stone.

When from my dying bed my ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,” shall rend the vaulted skies.

And when before the throne I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down all down at Jesus’ feet.

Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.