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John 20:10-12, NIV10 Then the disciples went back to their homes, 11 but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
May 5, 2012Peter and John went home. Mary stayed. Once she was alone, Mary cried. Her love for Jesus and her grief were showing. Wearing her down. Alone, she didn't have to project a good, strong, brave image of herself. With no one else around, she let the tears flow.
She went again to look into the tomb. and this time she saw angels. This was odd. They were not there earlier. Peter and John had not seen angels. There were two of them, seated where the body had lain, one at the head and the other at the foot.
People reading this or hearing Mary's account would wonder if this were her imagination. All those tears in her eyes blurred her vision. All the love in her heart blinded her head to the reality of the situation. She may have had these same thoughts..
John 20:13, NIV13 They [the angels] asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?" "They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him."
May 5, 2012Not only did Mary see angels, she had a brief conversation with them. They exchanged questions. Mary, why are you crying? The angels knew something Mary did not yet know. They have taken my Lord away and I don't know where they put him. In other words, do you know? Can you help me?
John 20:14, NIV 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
May 6, 2012Here's where Mary realized she was not alone in the garden that morning. By this point in the story Mary was not behaving in her usual manner. Distressed that the body of Jesus was not in the tomb where they had laid him on Sabbath's eve. Bearing all the uncertainty of not knowing and not having any recourse to finding the answers to her questions. Suddenly seeing two bright angels and talking to them. And now finally being startled by a stranger who invaded her private space. It would not be an exaggeration to say she was in a high state of anxiety. How much more could she take!
John 20:15-17, NIV 15 "Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."
16 Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father."
May 7, 2012More questions directed to Mary. Actually the same question asked by the angels just a few minutes earlier. Mary why are you crying? The implication is: Mary you should not be crying; there is no reason for you to be crying. Which sounded very strange and not at all comforting to someone as distressed as Mary was at this moment.
Thinking the questioner was the gardener, she explained her concern, asking where he had put the body and expressing her desire to have the body in her care and keeping. That's when Jesus spoke her name. Immediately Mary recognized the voice and reached out to him in relief and joy.
Jesus' response to her actions leaves much room for theological interpretation. All of which takes away from the impact of this resurrection encounter. Mary had found her Lord. He was alive. He had spoken with her. Never mind, what he said. She didn't understand it and neither do we and it doesn't matter right now anyway.
Jesus was standing before her. Loving her once more. Fully known, Mary was fully loved. What more could anyone ask?
John 20:17-18, NIV 17 Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"
18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.
May 8, 2012 Do not hang on to me or to this moment, Mary, but go instead to the others and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"
Again we can argue the fine points of this sentence, but better to step back and view the big picture. Jesus is going home to his beloved Father in heaven. To the one he called his God and we also call our God. That was the message Mary Magdalene was to take to the disciples.
But when she got there, her bottom line was very simply, "I have seen the Lord." Which is the testimony of everyone who has had an encounter with Jesus. It's her opening line, and then Mary added all that had happened to her in the garden that first Easter morning.
Jesus was going away. Mary and the other disciples were staying. They were to go and tell. That was 2,000 years ago. Things still stand pretty much the same. Jesus is physically apart from us. He went away. We are here. And our instruction is to go and tell what we have experienced, and how we have "seen" the Lord.
Jesus is alive. He is not in a tomb, dead nor stolen. He has gone to his Father. Christianity has this wonderful twist. It is a resurrection faith. Death is like a comma; resurrection is the exclamation point. Death is swallowed up in victory. Defeat, failure, decay--these things are never the final word. Because He lives, we too shall live. It's a message that spans across the ages and into our daily lives. Like Jesus said, a kernel of grain falls into the ground and "dies", but then it arises into a new life much greater than before.