When Resurrection hits home…

Posted: April 7, 2010 in Uncategorized

“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). — John 20: 15-16

Sunday, I had the honor of delivering an Easter sermon. In fact, it was my second Easter sermon as a pastor in the United Methodist Church and I can understand why pastors who have been doing this for much longer than I have get stressed about it. Easter’s a big deal!

During Sunday’s sermon, I was focusing on the Lectionary passage from John 20:1-18 with the account of Mary Magdalene running to tell Peter and John that the body of Jesus had been taken. Even in the text, we are told that the disciples still didn’t get resurrection. After Peter and John look in the tomb (and we are told they believed), they do a strange thing. They go home…

And Mary is left outside the tomb, weeping for Jesus who she still thinks has been taken away. She looks in the tomb, sees the angels and tells them that she’s looking for her “Lord.” She turns around and Jesus is there, but she mistakes him for the gardener and tells him she is looking for her “Lord.”

In my sermon on Sunday, I had a line that said, Mary came face to face with resurrection even if she didn’t recognize it at first.

Then, Tuesday night, I was talking to the Lander Wesley Fellowship, the campus ministry I have the privilege of serving, and that phrase gave me a much different thought. Mary didn’t just come face to face with resurrection when she saw Jesus. She experiences it.

Jesus calls her by name and she recognizes who he is. She uses the term of familiarity. She calls him, “Rabboni!” (teacher). And in the account of Matthew, Mary falls to the ground and grabs his feet.

Mary experienced resurrection here. She was in a situation where there was seemingly no hope. She thought Jesus was dead. She saw him die on the cross. And to add to her dilemma, she believed that his body had been stolen from the tomb. Things were dark and desperate in Mary’s life.

But. But. But…

When Jesus speaks her name, there’s this moment at which everything changes. The darkness and the void of hope turn to light and a world that is filled with hope. Mary’s never going to be the same again.

And I am so glad when I think about it, that resurrection is our story too. During the Lander Wesley Fellowship, we talked about people and situations we had encountered where there seemed to be no hope, but something happened. Something unexpected and unexplainable and the situation changed dramatically.

Resurrection is unexplainable and awesome. It’s totally unpredictable!

Thank you God for resurrection!

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