Reader: “Peace be with you, ”
Response: “and also with you. ”
Scripture: John 20:11-20
Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.
“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”
She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
“Mary!” Jesus said.
She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).
“Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.
That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord!
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
As we saw yesterday, Paul omitted a reference to Mary Magdalene as a witness to Jesus’ resurrection. John’s gospel gives us Mary’s account in today’s pericope. The above passage describes her second trip to the tomb. She had been there shortly before and discovered it was empty. She ran back to Peter and John to tell them Jesus was gone. The two men had come and seen the empty tomb and went back home! Mary stayed as described in the passage you just read. Put yourself at the tomb sitting invisibly on a rock on the side watching this encounter unfold.
Mary is standing by the entrance crying and she looks in the tomb for a second time. This time, there are two angels in the tomb, one sitting on the stone slab where Jesus’ head had been placed, and the other where his feet would have been. Imagine her shock when they ask her why she was crying. Notice her response was very natural. (My guess is that she was so self-focused on the missing body of Jesus, that she hardly grasped her unique encounter with angelic beings and she simply “went with it.”) In essence, “Somebody took the Lord’s body and I don’t know where they put him.” The angels didn’t respond and so she turns to leave, at the same time realizing another person has arrived, but she isn’t really focused on the man as her mind is preoccupied with finding the dead body of Jesus. He also asks her why she is crying but then asks her also who she is looking for. In somewhat of a fog, she presumes he’s the gardener and wants to know where he put the body. She is focused on finding the body! (For the Jews, proper burial of the deceased was of utmost importance and robbing graves was common, hence her concern.) Jesus calls her by name and she turns stunned to realize it is Jesus in his resurrected flesh. A living Jesus was the last thing she was expecting! (There are other accounts where the resurrected Lord is unrecognized―E.g.Emmaus, miraculous catch of fish.) Have you noticed how straight forward and “matter of fact” this whole account is? Nothing about this retelling is imaginary or magical. It is an historical record of the resurrection event written by an eyewitness who was present in the story. John makes the resurrection of Jesus very clear. Every person is confronted with the question, “Is this true and do I believe it? Do I receive what Christ has done for me?” Walk today with this same living Lord. Don’t be so consumed with the circumstances of the day that you miss the “Gardener” standing right beside you.
Music: “In the Garden” Alan Jackson
Almighty God, who through the death of your Son has destroyed sin and death, and by his Resurrection has restored innocence and everlasting life, that we may be delivered from the dominion of the devil, and our mortal bodies raised up from the dead: grant that we may confidently and whole-heartedly believe this, and, finally, with your saints, share in the joyful resurrection of the just; through the same Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord.