Posted on Wed, Apr 19, 2017
April 15, 2017
Gospel Text: John 20:1-18
The Resurrection of Jesus
20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2 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.’ 3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 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.’ 14 When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ 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.’ 16 Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because 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.”’ 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
Tonight you have heard the story of God’s faithfulness from texts from Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and even though the Gospel writer, St. John. It took hundreds, if not thousands of years for all of these prophesies to come together. But the moment Jesus breathed his last, and the curtain in the temple was torn in two, all of history came together at that moment, and a new history began with the resurrection of Jesus. In between the time Jesus died and rose again, we were in darkness. It was a time of true limbo, alone in the universe, hanging between life and death.
This is the day we await the resurrection morning. I have just read the Easter Gospel according to St. John, and it is life giving, but I want you to think of it as a dream Mary might have had the evening before Jesus said he would rise from the dead.
Can you imagine what must have been going through her mind that night? She clearly remembered that Jesus promised to rise from the dead on the third day, and the next morning was that very same ‘third day.’ Do you think she slept that at all that night? There were probably feelings of confusion but there must have also been feelings of anticipation or at least the possibility of resurrection! Everything Jesus had promised before had come true… and she herself even witnessed the truth that Jesus indeed has power over death… but then again, she saw the suffering, the humiliation, the blood, that spear, the hyssop, and the words he screamed out, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani!” These are images, sounds and smells that she will never ever be able to purge from her mind…
What would she dream that night? What would she hope for? Maybe she wished it all was a dream and she could wake up back home in Nazareth in her family home to the familiar sounds and smells of her village… but that truly was just a dream, she had seen too much, she had followed Jesus to too many places, she saw people healed, restored, welcomed and even brought back from the dead… but the day before she also saw her son killed, like a bandit on a cross… he was dead. He was dead, and his body was now in a very cold tomb, closed by a huge rock.
But I bet she did go to bed remembering Jesus’ promise and thinking, “He has to rise!” That hope of resurrection, even among the suffering, threats and rejection, must be true! Hope is all she has now, and the hope that Jesus offers is so different from any hope a human being could offer.
So, in her dream, she dreams that when she wakes up, or at least gives up on the thought of trying to sleep, she packs up the spices and supplies and goes off to the tomb. She goes to the tomb with a hint of hope, but no real expectations. But when she saw the stone that sealed the door had been pushed to the side and the entrance was now clear … what could have happened? She begins to cry at the entrance of the tomb. She thought she was alone, but suddenly from the corner of her eye, a man approached and asks her, “‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking? ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking? Out of shear reaction, she says, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” That is the natural question to ask, but then she suddenly makes a familiar connection between the gardeners voice and the voice of Jesus… and then she hears the words her heart and soul long to hear, the resurrected Christ calls her by name! “Mary.”
If only that will be the experience she has when she gets to the tomb in the morning.
We are like Mary, we sing songs of resurrection because we know there will be resurrection, but we will also be like Mary when we gather here again tomorrow to hear that greeting we only use one day each year, “He is Risen!” and we answer, “He is Risen Indeed!”
Try and sleep well tonight. We know the end of the story, Easter will come.
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