April 28, 2011
John 20:15, page 1696
“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.”
The Post-Resurrection Ministry of Jesus
“Why Are You Weeping?”
In Mark 16:9, page 1592, we read that Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection. The details of that appearance may be found in John 20:11-18, pages 1695-1696. On the first day of the week, Sunday, early in the morning, a group of women went out to the tomb of Jesus to anoint His body. When they arrived, they saw the stone had already been rolled away. They expected to take care of a dead body, but instead Jesus stood alive before Mary.
Seeing and Believing. In John 20:1-10, page 1695, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb, found it empty with the stone rolled away, and she ran and reported the news to Simon Peter and the disciple Jesus loved. Mary said: “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him” (John 20:2, page 1695). Notice that Mary Magdalene did not understand that Jesus had arisen, but she thought His body had been moved. So often in our lives we see all the spiritual facts, and assign a purely human explanation to God’s miraculous activity around us. Peter and the other disciple rush to the tomb, and the other disciple arrives first. When Peter arrives, they both enter the tomb, and see the linen wrappings there, and the face-cloth which had been lying on His head. The face-cloth was rolled up separately in a place apart from the rest of the wrappings. Now, having seen all the evidence of resurrection provided by the garments, and the particular point to show that the face cloth rolled up in a separate place, they believed (John 20:3-8, page 1695). Before seeing, they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. When we think about sharing our faith, and we talk about the resurrection of Jesus, remember that all the facts prove His resurrection. Remember too that God does not need historians or any man to prove Him correct, because He acted then, and He is the truth, the way and the life. He does not depend upon men for proof, but rather God furnishes proof to men so that: (a) they may be without excuse for rejecting Him and (b) for believers to have more faith in God and His loving power. After seeing the empty tomb and believing, the disciples left the tomb.
Why Are You Weeping? As Mary stayed behind at the empty tomb, she saw two angels in white, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying (John 20:11, page 1695). The angels said to her: “Why are you weeping?” and she replied: “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Mary needed more proof to believe. She obviously had not reached the belief that Peter and the other disciple displayed. She was still concerned that the body of Jesus had been taken somewhere, and she did not know where. Mary turned around, and saw Jesus, but did not recognize Him immediately. Imagine her tears and sorrow flooding her heart. She had loved Jesus, and now could not find even His body. In her mind, someone had taken it. We do not all come to faith in the same way, and each of us needs special help from God to believe. Watch how Jesus helped Mary believe, and how Jesus loves to comfort people like you and me. Jesus starts by asking her the same question as the angels: “Why are you weeping?”
Whom Are You Seeking? Jesus followed His first question to Mary with a second right behind it: “Whom are you seeking?” Jesus loves to ask questions, even when He already knows every answer. He questions us so that we may love Him more. He asks questions designed to focus our attention upon His particular point. With her tears and sorrow, Mary did not immediately recognize Jesus standing right there. She thought He was the gardener and asked, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will taken Him away.” Mary really loves Jesus, and still seeks His dead body. The living, resurrected body, however, is standing right in front of her. Seeing is not always believing.
Mary!. Sometimes one word makes all the difference. In this case, Jesus said just one word to bring faith in resurrection to Mary. Mary Magdalene loved Jesus, in part, because He had cast seven demons out of her (Luke 8:2-3, page 1611; Mary Magdalene has travelled with Jesus, some of who contributed to the support of Jesus out of their private means). She really knew what it was like to be tormented by Satan, and then delivered by Jesus and loved by Him. At the empty tomb that morning, He called her name, “Mary!” and she turned and believed. Something about the way He said it, or the voice itself, or both, opened Mary’s eyes, ears, and heart to the Lord Jesus. She called back: “Rabboni!” She began clinging to Him, and Jesus said to her: “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, My God and your God'” (John 20:17, page 1696). Jesus distinguishes his relationship with the Father from Mary’s relationship with the Father. Both have the same Father, but Jesus had the relationship of unique Son of God, because He has always been God, even before He became God in the flesh, Immanuel. Mary was adopted into the family of God, because of God’s love for her and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Jesus emphasizes their close fellowship with each other, and also their fellowship with God. When Jesus uses the term “My God,” Jesus does not mean Jesus Himself is not God. On the contrary, Jesus always recognized Himself as God, but He emptied Himself of the outward display of His deity, and took the form of a human bond-servant, in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:7, pages 1836-1837). Jesus was always God (John 1:1-14, pages 1653-1654). As part of the plan of salvation, God the Son willingly humbled Himself, took the form of a man (and was really a man like us in all ways with real flesh and blood–Hebrews 2:14, page 1871), suffered, died, and was resurrected. Jesus submitted Himself to the will of the Father, so that all things may be submitted to the Lord Jesus, who then will be subjected to the Father, so that all things may be subjected to the Father, so that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:24-28). Essentially, however, Jesus consoles weeping Mary with the promise of God’s eternal care, ministered to her directly through His abiding presence with her. Jesus has triumphed over death, and she does not need to weep over Him any longer. She has found Her Savior, alive and will. She will seek no longer for a dead body. Mary then left, and went and announced these things to the disciples (John 20:18, page 1696).
So we begin to learn about the Post-Resurrection Ministry of Jesus.
● Jesus ministers His comfort one person at a time. Perhaps you need to listen to Jesus call your name today. He knows it, and wants you to hear His voice calling you today.
● Jesus knows about our tears and cares very much for them. The cure for all tears comes from Jesus Christ alone. When we feel separated from Him, He comes to us if we listen to Him and read His word. Ponder this passage about how tenderly Jesus approaches and comforts Mary.
● Jesus brings the hope and certainty of living forever with Him. We love a resurrected Savior, who triumphs over death, because it could never conquer Him, the matchless Prince of Life.
Application for Today
Today I want to listen to Jesus calling my name, and urging me to follow Him. I will feel His love, and read His word. Will you be listening, reading, and following Jesus today? Will you hear His tender voice calling you today?