learning from mary

Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her. “Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.” “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”). John 20:11-16

Before she saw Jesus, the tomb was empty.

Before she experienced the joy of the resurrection, the tomb was empty.

I haven’t thought about the sorrow of the empty tomb much before – not the same sorrow of the death of Jesus, but one of confusion, perhaps panic…”where is he?!”

…and then Mary turns.

In this process of turning, the emptiness of the tomb is replaced with the sight of Jesus, whom she soon recognizes after he calls her by name. He says her name and she knows. She knows who he is, where he is, that the tomb isn’t empty because he was stolen or taken away from her. The tomb isn’t empty because he left her, the tomb is empty so that he can be closer to her.

Jesus doesn’t give Mary a general greeting, tell her forcefully “Hello! I’m here! Why are you crying?! Why don’t you trust me?!”

He says “Mary.”

Maybe it was the fact that he said her name. Maybe it was the sound of his voice. Maybe it was the combination of both, or maybe it was recognizing his face. I’m not really sure what made Mary know that it was Jesus. What I do know is that in that moment the empty tomb was no longer empty with reason for panic but empty for the purpose of life. What I do know is that Mary turned, and when she turned, her tears were wiped away because she saw Jesus again.

I believe in the risen God, but sometimes the empty tomb stares back at me. When my roommate asked me why I was crying, I said something similar to Mary’s words “They have taken away my Lord and I don’t know where they have put him.” 

He says “Alyssa”

What does it look like today to decide to turn? To believe in resurrection, to see an empty tomb, but turn around and see the Lord standing there, calling me by name? If I relate to Mary at the beginning of this story, I want to relate to her at the end. Jesus says “Mary,” Mary cries out “Rabboni!” which means teacher (vs. 16).

She tells the story of who she has seen, that he is in fact, alive. I too want to tell the story that he is risen. He is risen indeed.


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