Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

The Little Commission

Mary's and ours.

John 20:11–17

But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”

Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”

She, supposing Him to be the gardener, 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, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”

What’s wrong with clinging to Jesus? What’s His point here?

The answer may be in the next words, “but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’

This isn’t The Great Commission; it’s more like The Little Commission.

Mary is to spread the good news to a specific group, and Jesus needs her to do it right away.


Just as in many other interactions with the risen Lord, Jesus isn’t immediately recognized. Mary thinks He’s the gardener. He might even have been the one who moved the body. So, in her confusion and her grief, she asks Him about it.

But the “gardener” says her name, “Mary!” and that opens her eyes. Now she gets it and is prepared to carry out The Little Commission.

We’re all part of The Great Commission, but it’s useful to think of our roles as little commissioners. That’s the point of recognizing our personal mission field. I’m not bringing the gospel to the whole world; I’m bringing it to the people I’m called to bring it to.

Thus, my little commission doesn’t match yours. Each person’s task is unique and the right methods for you might not be the right methods for me. Obviously, there are some common elements, but prayer that asks for direction is critical to being useful to the kingdom.

No two Christians have exactly the same job.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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