By Rebecca Stoltzfus, President
Scripture: John 20:1-18 (NRSV)
We emerge from the Holy Week journey this year as we emerge from the winter of the pandemic. We read the Easter story with familiar joy. Yes! The Lord is risen indeed!
This year, will this sacred story sink deeper into my bones and into my heart? Or will it slide by, like another day in quarantine?
Mary Magdalene’s encounter with Jesus comes at the end of a terrible and indefinite time of not knowing what would come next. She was living the story in real time. She did not know how the next chapter would unfold.
When she comes to the tomb of her beloved teacher that morning, the risen Christ asks her: “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
I wonder why Jesus asked her this question. Surely he knows why she is crying and who she is looking for! Is this a rebuke? Is she not supposed to be crying? Jesus told a lot of funny stories. Is this his sense of humor? No. I think he is sincere.
Like Mary, we are living a story in real time, not knowing how the next chapter will unfold. We are hurt, we are dazed, we are needy.
What if Jesus is asking each of us in all sincerity this morning, “Why are you crying? Who is it that you are looking for?”
I want to receive this question and answer it sincerely. There is power in stating aloud what we need. Jesus surely knows this. After all, he has been through this astonishingly vulnerable human journey that we’re on.
Into our deep neediness he asks, “Why are you crying?” He asks not because there is anything wrong with our tears. Our tears are holy, as were Mary’s tears. He asks because he wants us to tell him, in our own words, what we need.
“The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil 4:5-6)
Let the loving question of the resurrected Christ sink deeply into our hearts and lives today, as we celebrate the Easter story. Why are you crying? Who are you looking for? The Lord is near.
Scripture: John 20:1-18 (NRSV)
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. 2So 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. 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.
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 around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for? 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.