Mary - Day 9
"But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 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.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” 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.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for 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.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her." - John 20:11-18
I have always found it bewildering that Mary Magdalene mistook Jesus to be the gardener. Why couldn’t she recognize him? In fact, the resurrection narratives contain much to be bewildered by. Rather than dispel this mystery (which is a part of worship, after all), let’s leave it alone and take a look at the way Jesus reveals himself to his grieving friend.
Not with an earthquake or a blinding light, but by the mere whisper of her name: “Mary.” That’s all, and her eyes were opened to see the Truth. Why her name? Why did that, above all things, reveal his identity? We would do well to think of Jesus’ words earlier in John, when, referring to himself as the Good Shepherd, Jesus said, “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (Jn 10:3). The scene before us is nothing less than Jesus calling a sheep by name, and that sheep recognizing both its own name and the voice of its Shepherd.
Jesus knows Mary in a way that even Mary doesn’t know Mary. And it is with this divine intimacy that he pronounces her name. And it is with that same divine intimacy that he calls our names, an intimacy that is entirely familiar with us: our conception and birth, our first sins and first steps, the deep wounds beneath our shallow words, the ugly sins behind our pretty masks, the fears and hopes we’ve held since childhood. But the thing that makes his calling irresistible is that, in spite of his familiarity with our sin and weakness, it is spoken in a tone of grace that bids us come as we are.
Mary knew there was only one person in the world who could speak to her like that – her Shepherd, her Teacher. She turns to him in complete shock and cries in her native language, “Rabboni!” And by his next words, it would seem that in her joy she couldn’t help but leap upon him in an embrace. His words may sound harsh, “Don’t cling to me,” but his reasoning is profound: “for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” Then she may cling to him, when he has ascended to the throne of God.
I have heard it said, “If only I could have been there, known him in person, followed him in the flesh. Then I wouldn’t have such a hard time knowing Jesus.” This passage, however, says the very opposite. Only when he is as we know him today – invisible but made present by the Spirit and the Word – only now may we truly cling to him, in a sense that Mary Magdalene never imagined.
Leave a Reply.
This blog is written by the authors of Cypress Press, meant for the creative illustration and application of God's Word.