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Beautiful Encounters (Erin Davis)The Encounter That Changes Everything

Program Audio

Photo of Erin Davis
Erin Davis

Watch this series on video here.

Leslie Basham: Last month we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus. Why the big celebration?

Erin Davis: What’s the big deal about the resurrection? Why does it matter that Mary encountered a risen Savior so many years ago? Because it’s the one piece of the puzzle that makes everything else make sense.

Leslie: Erin Davis is about to explain why. This is Revive Our Hearts for Wednesday, May 14, 2014.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss:  It has been such a joy to have Erin Davis with us over these past several sessions, teaching us about some women in the New Testament who encountered Jesus and how those encounters changed their lives. Erin’s a real significant part of Revive Our Hearts. She ministers to young women through the Lies Young Women Believe blog.

That is a crucial part of our outreach because we’re reaching young women with issues and challenges and struggles that you would hardly believe. They’re saying some things on those blogs that us as older women are thinking, Oh, wow. They’re very raw, very out there, very open, and God’s given Erin and her team a lot of wisdom and a lot of compassion to reach out and take the hands and help the hearts of these young women.

Erin’s going to be a part of the True Woman 2014 conference in October in Indianapolis. Erin, you and Dannah Gresh—who’s coauthored Lies Young Women Believe with me, and who has been an important discipler in your life years ago—you’re both going to be there doing the Teen Track. Tell me why you’re looking forward to being with the young women.

Erin: Well, I think some people think that the Teen Track is inside of the True Woman conference, but we like to think that True Woman wraps around the Teen Track, because we have a lot of fun in there. But we don’t shy away from truth or important issues. We’re adding live worship to this next one. And we do play some games, and we do enjoy each other very, very much.

We hope that girls walk out of those sessions loaded with God’s truth and knowing very much what to do with it. I look forward to it every single year—it’s one of my favorite things to do.

Nancy: You’ve been at all of the True Woman events we’ve done, since 2008. Speak to the woman who’s never been to one of these events and she’s wondering, Why in the world would I go to that?

Erin: I know there are a lot of things we can do and a lot of ways we can spend our money. I know that as women it’s very hard to carve out a weekend of our lives for something like that—something we can think of as optional. But I absolutely do not think it’s optional.

If you’re going to continue to pour into your family and to those areas of ministry in which I hope you’re serving, you have to occasionally feast on the Word. I speak at a lot of ladies’ conferences. What separates True Woman for me is that it’s the Word, it’s the Word, it’s the Word! It is great teachers, but they aren’t just people who tell great stories. They are all people who are closely tethered to the Word.

Certainly, we have some fun and some great worship, but I’ve never been to another women’s conference where there is so much of God’s Word downloaded into our hearts in such a short amount of time. So, I certainly wouldn’t miss it, whether I was one of the participating speakers or not. I would encourage any woman listening to carve out the time and figure out a way. They won’t regret it.

Nancy: Great. Go to ReviveOurHearts.com, and you can find all the information for the True Woman '14 conference coming up. It’s not too early to sign up. We’re asking the Lord for a sell-out house of about ten thousand women for that event—but it’s not just an event. It’s an opportunity for us to get our hearts into the Word, in tune with the Lord, and then to go forth from that place and be the women in our homes and churches and communities that can honor Christ, bring glory to Him, and will be a part of a movement of true women of God in this country and around the world.

Erin will be there; I’ll be there. Joni Eareckson Tada, Janet Parshall, Mary Kassian, and Angie Smith will be there this year. Also, Lauren Chandler, Pastor Jim Cymbala, Keith and Kristyn Getty, the Chicago Tabernacle Choir, and more. It's a great chance to connect with other women who are seeking the Lord and want to be His true women.

That’s coming up in October, and again you can get all the details at ReviveOurHearts.com.

We come today to the end of this series with Erin as our guest teacher, and it’s been a joy to me to sit on the front row being blessed and ministered to. I know what it’s like to be up here, having studied and prepared, and then pouring out. But it’s been a joy to me to get to sit and take in from another true woman of God, who’s done the work and is feeding us as she’s prepared these great “meals” from the Word of God.

We’re looking at women who encountered Jesus. The studies are based on a book Erin wrote, Beautiful Encounters. It’s all about how the presence of Jesus changes everything in our lives as women. We come today to a women, last but not least, one of the great beautiful stories in God’s Word.

Lord, as Erin opens the Word, we pray You would open our ears, open our eyes, open our hearts to know and see and love Jesus more. We pray this in His sweet name, amen.

Erin: I’m not a sports fan, unless you count cheering for my sons at Little League baseball. I could not tell you who plays for what team or even what season of sports it is, most of the time. But I do understand game-changing moments. It’s that moment when an unbelievable play is made, or a shot is blocked, or the next big star is pulled up from the bench and achieves an unbelievable play.

Maybe it’s that moment in a play when the villain is finally vanquished or the mystery is solved. A game-changing moment is that moment that shifts the entire outcome of the story. And there’s just something about a game-changing moment that makes us all want to stand up and cheer.

In this series, we’ve been looking at beautiful encounters, women in the New Testament who had a collision—an encounter—with Jesus, and it changed everything for them. These stories aren’t really about these women—we don’t even know some of their names. But like all great stories, they’re just kind of a canvas upon which a greater story is told. Ultimately, every story is about the beautiful character of Christ.

Today in this session, we’re going to look at a game-changing moment—an encounter that literally ripped history into two pieces. There was the time before this encounter happened, and then there was the time after this encounter happened. It should make us want to stand up and cheer. It’s the story of the encounter between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

Now Jesus and Mary Magdalene had lots of encounters throughout the Gospels, so we’re going to have to kind of spend a little bit of time mining her story until we get to that game-changing moment, but I hope you’re on the edge of your seats, because it’s a good one.

Mary Magdalene knew from her first encounter with Jesus about game-changing moments. Her first encounter with Jesus marked a dramatic turning point in her own life—so much so that she became among Jesus’ most devoted followers. After His death, Mary had another dramatic encounter with the Savior. It was a moment that would change everything for her, but it sent shock waves out through all of time, and I hope that it will be a moment that changes everything for you.

In fact, whether we recognize it or not, it was a moment that was a game-changer for all of mankind. Let’s look at a little bit of Mary’s story. First, before we get there, Luke 8:1–2 gives us the first glimpse we get of her. As with so many of these stories, there are a lot of details missing. We don’t know a lot about her family or her home, but we know what we need to know, which is what her life was like before Jesus, and what her life was like after Jesus.

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out.

So here we get everything we need to know about Mary’s life before Jesus. She was oppressed by seven demons. Mary’s life after Jesus—she is set free. She is likely moved by gratitude to stick right by Jesus’ side, and that’s where we find her throughout the rest of the Gospels. She follows with Him in this pack as He ministers, as He performs miracles, as He does many of the things we’ve seen Him do in this series. She was a witness to a lot of that.

We don’t know how long Mary had been oppressed by demons; we don’t know what that looked like in her life; we don’t much at all about Mary Magdalene. But we do know that Mary’s life was completely transformed by Jesus’ power and His grace. For Mary, meeting Jesus changed everything.

Fast forward in the story of Christ to the day of the crucifixion. Remember, from the story we looked at in the last session (Salome’s story), that Scripture told us in Mark 15:40–41 that Mary Magdalene was among a handful of women who stayed very close to Jesus during the crucifixion. The passage says,

There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.

John 19:25 says,

But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

Mary literally stood at the foot of the cross as Jesus was dying. The disciples, they turned tail and ran, but these women pressed in. They were brave women.

My baby Judah (I told you he has some kidney problems), when he was just four weeks old, we had to go to the hospital for some really invasive tests. So you imagine this four-week-old baby—and it was gut-wrenching. It went on for hours and hours and hours, and he literally screamed for hours and hours and hours, and I stayed right there with him.

I held his tiny hand, and I sang hymns to that baby boy until my throat was sore. In fact, Jesus was there with me, too, of course. He showed such great compassion for us in that moment. Here was this little guy and he was crying, and the nurse that was there kept saying, “Mama, are you okay? Are you okay?” And I was. I had such strength in the moment.

The nurse started singing to my sweet baby boy "Come Thou Fount," which is my favorite hymn. So, Jesus was sweet to me. You could not have pried me away from that baby with a team of horses. I was staying. I never let go of his tiny hand. I never stopped singing hymns into his little ear. He finally stopped screaming and fell asleep. As I sat there holding that little baby’s hand, I started to think of Mary.

Certainly she experienced a much more gruesome ordeal than I did that day with Judah, and in many ways I guess I was comparing apples and oranges, but she did not flinch. She did not run. Because she loved Jesus and because He had done so much for her, she planted her feet at the foot of the cross. She determined that she would do whatever she could do to minister to Him while He was being crucified.

What occurred to me at that moment was that Mary got to comfort the Comforter. What a sweet, sweet thing—those brave women who said, “We will stay; we will fight; we will minister to this One we love as He suffers.” Though difficult, it was a sweet privilege for those women to comfort the Comforter in His greatest hour of need.

But this is not Mary’s encounter with Jesus that changed everything. Jesus died on that cross while Mary watched. None of those women watching expected that to be the way things went down. At any moment, I’m sure they expected Him to pry Himself off that cross, and He did not.

Even though they didn’t understand it, and they didn’t know how the story was going to end, they watched. He died, and they stayed there until His body gets laid in a tomb. And we know from the last session that Mary and some of the others got busy in their “new normal,” operating under the assumption that Jesus was going to stay dead. Now, He had told them that He wasn’t going to, but they didn’t get it. 

So they started operating in this new normal: “Our Savior is dead, so we’re going to get busy doing the things we need to do.” In John 20:1–2, we read the amazing account of Jesus’ resurrection. They brought spices, and they continued to do the things they needed to do to take care of the One that they loved.

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him."

I see so much humanity here, in Mary Magdalene. She probably tried to sleep, but couldn’t. You know . . . one of those nights where you just toss and turn and just can’t fall asleep. Finally she just gives up the fight, and she’s going to go to the tomb.

The Bible says it was still dark, the sun isn’t even coming up. She thinks, I can’t sleep anyway. I’m just going to get up. I’m just going to be near Him. I don’t know what else to do. She’s the first one there, but Jesus’ body is gone. Even though He had taught His disciples that He would be resurrected, they didn’t understand it.

At this point Mary seems to have no thought of the resurrection. She panics. She just runs and says, “He’s not here; I don’t know where he is.” She runs and tries to find the other disciples. She just kind of  loses her mind for a little bit because this feels like adding insult to injury.

A few days earlier she had watched while they killed Him, and now she can’t even find His body. She sees an empty tomb, and she assumes He’s gone forever. She does what all women would do in that situation . . . she wants to tell someone, right? That’s what we all do. That’s the way we process information. She wants to tell.

So she runs, and gets the disciples (who probably still have sleepy eyes, because Scripture tells us it’s not yet morning). She goes and says, “You gotta come. He’s not there. I can’t find Him.” So, they get up, and they run. The disciples come and they see for themselves. They peek into the tomb, and they do some investigating. Women like to talk about it—men like to investigate, try to get something done.

John 20:6 tells us,

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.

Now, I’m so glad Jesus had a mother, and she clearly was a good one because she taught her boy to pick up after Himself and fold His clothes. Did you see that? Right there in the middle of the resurrection story! The disciples went in there—and He had folded up his cloth and laid it off to the side. That gives me great hope.

Anyway (I don’t know if you’re supposed to tell jokes in the middle of the resurrection story, but that struck me)—so, His  burial clothes were folded there in a neat pile. The disciples decided to poke around in there a little while longer. Eventually, they just went back home.

The Bible tells us they didn’t understand. They come ,and they do what they can. There’s not much they can do. And we don’t know. They head back down the road. But that’s not what Mary Magdalene did. It was not good enough for her to poke her head in there and say, “Well, He’s not in there—I don’t where He is.” She could not bear the thought that He was gone.

They were facing another round of hopelessness here. They had witnessed the trial, where Jesus was wrongfully condemned. They knew about the crucifixion, even though the disciples had not all stood there and watched it. And now they thought his grave had been robbed. Again, the disciples kind of back off and hide away.

John 20:10 says they went back home—but not Mary. That’s not who Mary Magdalene was. That’s not the reaction she had after her encounter with Jesus. She was going to stay; she was going to figure it out; she was going to find Him.

Let’s look at John 20:11–17:

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.”

Any time I hear criticism that the True Woman movement is anti-woman, I want to point to this story, because this passage describes an extremely emotional Mary Magdalene. She can’t stop crying. There is nothing “together” about Mary Magdalene.

She reacts strongly to both the empty tomb, and to Jesus when He appears to her. She begs others to help; she is distraught; she is expressive; she is dramatic. I like her! She is all girl, through and through, in this story. Jesus is not afraid of any of it. He is not afraid of her emotions, and He doesn’t shy away from her.

He doesn’t tell her to get it together or to suck it up or try to get her to be something other than who she is. She’s tender toward her. He certainly could have appeared to someone else. Maybe the disciples would have handled this situation more stoically or logically, but Jesus chose to appear to Mary first.

Just how in the first session of this series, Anna got to be the first woman to declare the divinity of Jesus, and now Mary Magdalene gets to be the first person to declare the resurrection of Jesus. I don’t really understand how anybody could look at this book and say it’s anything but pro-women. God loved women. He used women to do really amazing things, and here He uses Mary Magdalene to tell the beautiful, amazing, life-changing, game-changing truth that, “Oh yes, I’m not dead. I beat it. I conquered it. Nothing can hold Me, nothing can conquer me; I’m resurrected. Go and tell!"

He gives her this huge assignment. She wants to hold on to Him . . . “I just want to stay here for a minute Jesus. I can’t believe You’re here! I just want to soak this in. Can I just stay here?” And He’s quick to say, “I’m not just here so we can have a little bit more time together. I’m not just here so we can have a few more adventures. I’m going to the Father. I’m going to My Father, who’s your Father. I’m going to your God, who’s My God, so I need you to go and tell.”

And this is the story I’m sure she told over and over and over. In fact, I’m sure she didn’t tell any other story as long as she lived: “Jesus was dead. His body was in the tomb. It was sealed with the stone. I saw it. My Friend, my Savior, my hope, it was buried. Everything was dark for a few days. It was hopeless! I didn’t know what was going to happen . . . but then! There was a game-changing moment. He wasn’t in the grave; He wasn’t dead. He was alive! Hope wasn’t buried. It was resurrected!”

Mary’s encounter that day was an encounter with the living God. He continues to be alive and well and sitting on His throne. Mary got to be the first to know the answer to a question that our culture is still asking. In a million ways they are looking at us church, and they are saying, “Is your God dead?” And Mary got to hear the answer first. “He’s not dead. He is risen!”

Why does it matter? Why does it matter if He isn’t dead? What’s the big deal about the resurrection? Why does it matter that Mary encountered a risen Savior so many years ago? Because it’s the one piece of the puzzle that makes everything else make sense.

In our other sessions we looked at Lazarus—raised from the dead; Jairus’ daughter—raised from the dead; the widow of Nain’s son—raised from the dead, and now Jesus—raised from the dead. Jesus has victory over death. That is a game-changer. He may never raise you or someone you love from the physical grave, but it should change everything—that death cannot hold Him; the grave cannot chain Him; nothing can stop Him.

All of us were dead once, all of us were in the grave. I’ll get choked up, because when you understand the gospel, it changes everything. When you understand the resurrection, it doesn’t just  become Easter morning feel-good stuff anymore. That’s why Mary was so impacted by seeing Him in that moment.

The first part of Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death.” Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins.” Just like the adulterous woman, the penalty we all need to pay is death, and we were all dead in the grave because of it. We might not have realized we were in the grave, but that doesn’t change the fact that we were dead.

But just about the time the sun started to come up on Easter morning, Mary Magdalene got a glimpse of hope. Death didn’t have the final say. Jesus was alive! In John 5:24, Jesus was talking when He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”

It’s my prayer that you will encounter Jesus. He’s the God who changes everything. That’s why Mary Magdalene’s story is my favorite story in this series. The rest of the stories show us things about God that are really neat, and impact us, but nothing is more powerful than the fact that He raised from the dead and He reigns now.

Nancy: Amen. Thank you so much, Erin—and so many things to ponder about that story. First of all, once you’ve experienced that life-changing encounter with the resurrected Christ, you can’t just sit around and while away the rest of your life. You’ve got a mission, and it’s “Go tell!”

Some of us are sitting around whiling away the rest of our lives, because we’ve forgotten the amazing power of the resurrected Christ. Mary had experienced this power back when she was this woman who was oppressed by demons. She had been set free. She had a personal testimony. Now she knew that this Christ who had salvaged her life had given His life for the world. He could salvage their lives as well.

She does. She fulfills that commission to go and tell. Sometimes I think, Why we don’t go and tell more? First of all, maybe we don’t have a personal testimony. Maybe we’ve never experienced His life-changing power ourselves. We’re still oppressed by our sinful habit patterns and the devil, and we don’t have a new life in Christ. You can’t share something with somebody else that you don’t have yourself.

So, as you’ve been listening to this series of women who encountered Jesus, maybe you’ve never had this personal relationship. You know it in your head; you’ve heard these stories; you’re a good church person, but you haven’t encountered Jesus.

Then, I think sometimes we have encountered Him, but we’ve just lost the wonder and forgotten how amazing it is that Jesus is truly alive, having first given His life on the cross to pay for the sins of the world. Now He’s alive! Erin got a little weepy as she was telling this, and we should all get weepy. There’s a lot of weeping in these stories—Jesus weeping, other people weeping—and sometimes our own hearts are so dry because we’ve just forgotten how amazing and wonderful this is.

Erin, I love that last verse that you read from John 5 about the one who hears His Word and “believes in Him who sent Me,” Jesus said, “has eternal life. He does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life.” Here we have Jesus who passed from death to life, but He says, “the one who believes in Me—the one who is in Me—will have eternal life.”

We’re born dead in trespasses and sin. He wants to bring us to life. I’m just thinking there may some in this room, some listening to this program today, who have never passed from death into life. Just give a word of encouragement, of exhortation, Erin. If God’s Spirit is convicting hearts—you’ve never had a personal experience with Jesus that has changed your life—what do you do?

God’s Spirit is speaking to some people, I think, in this moment. Give a word of encouragement to them, Erin.

Erin: I think God knew that, and knows that, and that God sent the rescue helicopter for you. I didn’t know that this series was going to wrap with the gospel. I knew we were going to wrap with Mary Magdalene, and I kept wondering how I was going to “land the plane.”

And I remember how, when I was finishing my notes, I thought, Of course, it ends with the gospel, because the Lord knows there are people listening who need to hear the gospel for the first time—or the millionth time—and He wants them to know that He wants them to move from death to life. Grace is available to them.

So, I would just say that God knows that. He wants you to know from His Word that all the things we’ve talked about—compassion is available to you; grace is available to you; satisfaction is available to you, and moving from death to life—is available to you.

There’s nothing fancy or magical you have to do. Pray to Him right there where you are, and then I would certainly encourage you to tell someone what God is doing in your heart.

Nancy: Why don’t you pray for those right now who are hearing. And if you do know Jesus, why don’t you join us in praying right now for those who are hearing, who just need the faith to say “yes” to the Lord Jesus. Pray for those to take the step to say, “I believe, and I want to receive that gift of eternal life.” God is maybe speaking to their hearts right now. Would you just pray for those right now, Erin?

Erin: Jesus, we are thankful that Your tomb is empty, and we are thankful for all that means for our lives. But there are so many around the world that either don’t know Your story, or don’t understand how it applies to them. So, we pray for those who are still dead in their trespasses because they haven’t turned their lives over to you.

Would you continue, Lord, to still woo them. We pray that they would turn their lives over to You and accept You as their Savior, and understand why the empty tomb is so significant. We pray they would be moved and changed and then sent out because of what for You did for them on the cross—and then several days later when You resurrected. We thank You for all You have done. In Your holy, holy, holy name, amen.

Nancy: Amen.

Leslie: We’ve been hearing from Nancy Leigh DeMoss and our guest teacher, Erin Davis. Nancy will be right back.

Today’s the final program in a series called "Beautiful Encounters." Erin’s been helping us get to know eight women who met Jesus. If you’ve missed any of the series, I hope you’ll hear all the episodes at ReviveOurHearts.com. You can download the audio, or order the series on CD. Nancy?

Nancy: Well, I’m so glad we’ve been able to hear from Erin Davis over the past-week-and-a-half. Nothing matters more than encountering Jesus. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. As we close today, I want to ask if you would consider helping Revive Our Hearts spread the truth that is setting women free.

Earlier this month, we started telling you about a matching challenge for first-time givers to Revive Our Hearts. That’s because some friends of this ministry are matching every first-time gift, up to a matching challenge amount of $70,000. When you make that gift, we’ll send you a book I’ve written called Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free.

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s participated in this challenge so far. That’s an important part of our overall goal during the month of May, where we’re asking the Lord to provide a total of $435,000 or more.

That’s important because at the end of May, we close our books on another fiscal year. Meeting this goal will help us end the year in the black so we can keep our current outreaches going. If we exceed that goal, it will allow us to expand our outreach in a few key areas where there are some more opportunities to reach even more women with this message.

So as the Lord prompts, would you take  a moment to pray and ask the Lord to provide all that He knows is needed during this month of May? And then if the Lord prompts you, to make a gift to help meet that need? You can make a donation at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can mail it to us at P.O. Box 2000, Niles, Michigan 49120.

If you’d prefer to just make a quick phone call, the number is 1–800–569–5959. Thanks so much for your part in helping Revive Our Hearts speak the truth that sets women free.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. When you contact us with a donation of any size today, we’ll say thanks by sending you the workbook Beautiful Encounters by Erin Davis. Today’s the final day we’re making this offer on the program, so let us hear from you.

Tomorrow, Janet Parshall asks, “Are you really asking for God’s will to be done?” Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts, with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.

Topics: Women of the Bible

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