For audio version: https://youtu.be/PgtOtfGNiYg
Prepare to Listen. Let this prayer from Psalm 118 be your joyful cry this Easter as you prepare to read and hear God’s Word: The LORD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation (v14).
Prayerfully Read John 20:1, 11-18
1Early 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…. 11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and 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. 13They 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.’ 14When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus 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.’ 16Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). 17Jesus 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.”’ 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
Overcome with hopeless sorrow, fixated on the missing body of Jesus, Mary Magdalene failed to register that two angels had addressed her. She responded to them, but then immediately turned around and stood face to face with Jesus. She saw him but didn’t know him, and neither did she recognize his familiar voice, as he asked, “Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?” She repeated her request for the missing body. And then Jesus uttered one word, “Mary.” And that’s when she recognized him, when he called her by name.
For a second time the writer says, “she turned.” This wasn’t a physical turning. She was already facing Jesus. It was a spiritual turning, a conversion to the truth about Jesus. This was the true Shepherd who “calls his own sheep by name” (Jn 10:3). She heard him and deep within she knew before whom she stood. “Teacher,” is all she said. Teacher with a capital ‘T’; teacher as in the Teacher above all teachers, including the old teacher, Moses whom Jews still honored.
Mary turned and was converted to Jesus as the ‘new’ Moses. Then Jesus sent her to be the apostle to the disciples, to be the first apostle of the resurrection. Her message was simple, “I have seen the Lord!” Her eye-witness account made her an authentic witness.
This episode begins with Mary in the dark, both literally (v1) and spiritually. She turned, and the rest is history.
What spiritual turning are you being called to today?
Our Lenten journey began with Jesus' invitation, "Come and see." It ends with Mary Magdalene's joyous testimony, "I have seen the Lord." What have you seen during these weeks in John's Gospel?
Respond to Jesus
Lord Jesus, keep calling me by name until I too turn to the truth of who you are and how I should therefore live. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world, turning again and again to Jesus.
Reflection on Scripture has been a constant in my life ever since I can remember. Reflecting on Jesus in the Gospels has become a necessity to get Jesus right. Join me in reading John to see Jesus more clearly this Lent.