“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, ‘Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to Him, ‘Rabboni!’ (which is to say, Teacher). “ (John 20:15-17 NKJV)
I can only imagine the anguish Mary and the disciples were going through. Their leader and teacher, Jesus, had been executed. They had every right to believe that the Jewish leaders were coming for them next, and no one had given Jesus a proper burial. Mary, and, according to other gospels, other women of the group went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’s body for burial. Instead, when they got to the tomb, not only was the stone rolled away, one of their worries, the tomb was empty. Peter and John didn’t believe the testimony of the women, so they ran to check it out. They left shaking their heads, and Mary stayed outside the tomb, crying. When the angels that were now in the tomb asked why, she noted that Jesus had been taken away. When Jesus asked the same question, she didn’t realize who He was, yet, and asked about Jesus’s body. Then Jesus called her by name and she realized that beyond all hope and belief, Jesus was alive.
This incident at the tomb, speaks volumes about our faith as Christians. The first, most obvious one, is that the tomb was empty. Jesus was not there. The stone was rolled away so that it would be obvious. Second, the disciples were NOT expecting the resurrection. They thought someone else had taken Jesus. The third thing I see is a hint of what heaven will be like. Mary turned and looked at the person she supposed was the gardner…she didn’t recognize the resurrected body of Jesus. Either it was that different, her eyes were blurred with tears, or she didn’t see Jesus because she wasn’t expecting Jesus. I think His resurrection body was different enough that she didn’t recognize Him – just like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Whatever the situation, it’s obvious that neither Mary nor the other disciples expected to see Jesus when they went to the tomb. One of the objections to the resurrection that people posit is that the disciples stole the body to fool people into believing that Jesus had risen. The truth is that they were as shocked by the resurrection as anyone. However improbable the story of the resurrection is, it is more logical to believe that Jesus rose from the dead than to take any other position. And if Jesus rose from the dead, how can you do anything other than follow Him?
Lord, the tomb was empty, but You were there to let Mary and then the disciples know that You had risen from the dead. Speak to people in our world today and let them experience the power of the resurrection in new lives filled with love, joy, and grace.