Many people testified to having seen the risen Christ but none of those accounts were more powerful than that of Mary Magdalene who was one of the first to find the empty tomb. Along with several other women she went to the tomb early on the Sunday morning once the Sabbath had ended. Finding it empty she and the others ran back to the disciples – calling Peter and John to come and see what had happened. John 20:9 tells us that after peering into the empty tomb, the men left confused, because they: “… still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.” Mary Magdalene remained outside the tomb crying. Her eyes so filled with tears that she didn’t recognize Jesus when He first spoke to her.
15 He asked her, “Woman, 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.”
I think we are often a lot like Mary for in the trials of our lives Jesus might be speaking to us and yet we do not recognize Him. Jesus asked Mary two questions and though she didn’t really answer either of them they are important and we need to think about them. He asked: why are you crying, and who are you looking for?
In our own lives when face some loss or some terrible disappointment we need to ask ourselves the same questions. Why do we weep? And what do we look for? Are we seeking that which was lost, or are we looking for Jesus, the Risen Lord? For in that moment of our deepest trial, just as He did with Mary, Jesus wants us to turn away from the emptiness of the tomb and turn to Him!
Our tomb experience may not involve a physical death. It could be any number of things: like the end of a relationship, the loss of a job, or perhaps a failed exam. We may have had to let go of a dream – our hopes for the future – and we find ourselves hopelessly grieving what might have been! It is then that Jesus wants us to confront the reason for our grief. He wants to reassure us that we are not alone and He wants us to turn away from the tomb (that thing which we have lost) and turn to Him knowing we still have a future and a hope in Christ! Very softly, Jesus is calling our name also.
As Christ called out to Mary and she recognized His voice “she turned towards him” and He revealed to her that she couldn’t cling to what had been. Things would be different from now on. He was returning to His Father in Heaven but He would use her in new ways! Mary was told to take the news of His resurrection to the others – and in that we see the final proof of the truth of the resurrection!
In that day women, even Jewish women, were held in low regard. Legally, they were not allowed to give testimony and yet Christ first entrusted the news of His resurrection to a woman! If the disciples had made the story up, or if the accounts had merely been turned into a myth there is no way that they would have chosen a woman to be the first one to bring news about the Risen Lord. The disciples would have rather given that job to one of their most prominent men – to Peter, or Nicodemus or perhaps even Joseph of Aramathea who had been on the Jewish ruling council, for they would have been more easily believed!
But the Lord chose a woman and all the Gospel writers did was report the truth of what had occurred.
May God bless you