Called by Name

Called by Name

Called by Name
John 20:1-18

Mary Magdalene was heart-broken. She had experienced her share of heartache across the years, but nothing came anywhere close to the grief she felt over what had happened during the past two days. Jesus Christ, her friend, teacher and redeemer had died a cruel and unnecessary death. First there was the arrest, then the beating and finally the humiliating crucifixion. She had witnessed with her eyes his death two days earlier.

Now, on the first day of the week, as the tears streamed down her face, she peered into the tomb and saw two angels sitting where Jesus’ body had been placed after his death. After a brief conversation with them, she turned and encountered Jesus. Maybe she did not get a good look at him. Or perhaps the tears prevented her from seeing him clearly. Regardless, she did not recognize him at first. Then he called her by name. 

When she heard Jesus say “Mary”, she realized who he was and turned to him, saying “Rabbouni!” Hebrew for teacher. And her life was changed forever. Indeed, she went from the garden tomb to the disciples to tell them, “I have seen the Lord.” She did not stop with that news, but also reported to them all Jesus had told her. In fact, according to Christian tradition, she continued to share the Good News of Jesus Christ for the rest of her life on this earth. 

Friends, our lives change, too, when we hear Jesus calling us by name. We do not always recognize him in the multitude of ways in which he shows up in our lives.

Especially in times like ours when there is so much background noise and fog. In 2022 there are many reasons we strain to clearly hear and squint to clearly see. This is why we must make every effort to raise our awareness, clear our vision and attentively tune our listening.

Perhaps we miss seeing Jesus in the kind acts of other people, the beauty of creation or through the countless small miracles that are a part of daily life. Maybe, like Mary Magdalene, we are so preoccupied with other matters that we fail to realize his many ways of being present in our lives. Then we hear him calling our name.

It might be as we are serving other people, while worshipping God or seemingly out of the blue. Though we may not always hear an audible voice, we sense Jesus speaking to us. He calls us by name, reminding us that he is our friend, teacher and redeemer. Then he sends us to tell others about God’s love for all humanity.

On this Easter Day, Jesus is calling each of us by name. I invite you to join me in listening attentively for Jesus’ voice, today and everyday. And join me in telling others of the Good News of Easter. As we do, our lives are changed forever. Amen and Amen.  

Reflection Questions: 1) Where might you elevate your awareness to pierce the noise and fog so you never miss Jesus calling your name? 2) What helps you to hear Jesus call your name? 3) To whom are you feeling led to talk about God’s love?


Debra Wallace-Padgett

The Reverend Dr. Debra Wallace-Padgett was elected a Bishop of the United Methodist Church at the 2012 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. At the time of her election, she was the lead pastor of St. Luke United Methodist Church in Lexington, ...