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). (John 20:15-16)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Mary Magdalene is more terrified and confused than she has ever been in her life. Her Lord has been crucified and now His body is no longer in the tomb. She came there that morning to find a small amount of peace in this world of death and destruction, and now even that is gone. Some graverobbers have stolen away the body of the Lord of Life and now she can’t even commend Him to God above.
Peter doesn’t seem to offer much help, nor does John. Even though they are viewing with their own eyes the empty tomb that Jesus had continually prophesied about, they can’t believe it. Dead men stay dead and full tombs remain full. Even when the angels miraculously appear, it seems as if Mary is too punch-drunk to even acknowledge the miraculous.
So Jesus stands behind her. Was it the tears in her eyes that kept her from recognizing Him? Surely she could tell the difference between her Lord and some gardener she had never met before. Or maybe it is the mysterious miraculous impossibility of it all that keeps her mind clamped down in the rational and the logical.
And so Jesus calls her by name. (There is that “name” stuff again.) And it is in calling her by name that she recognizes the risen Christ. She wants to grab onto Him and never let Him go. She never again wants to lose Him, or to be without Him. But He says, ” No,” for a risen Christ isn’t just for her: He is for everyone. He is going to go away again, and in a little while will ascend to His Father and hers. He does this so that He can send His Spirit and in His Spirit give the Gifts of the Cross, the Gifts of the empty tomb to everyone that He calls by name. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Awake, my heart, with gladness, See what today is done; Now, after gloom and sadness, Comes forth the glorious sun. My Savior there was laid Where our bed must be made When to the realms of light Our spirit wings its flight. (“Awake, My Heart, with Gladness” LSB 467, st.1)
-Rev. Eli Lietzau is pastor of Wheat Ridge Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wheat Ridge, CO.
Audio Reflections speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Come on an adventure with author Eric Eichinger as he unpacks the saga of Jesus’ Hero Journey. You’ll see how aspects of this journey are seen in popular stories, and how God used Jesus to create the most action-packed one with a real Savior for all. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.