Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 2 She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
3 Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. 4 They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. 6 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, 7 while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. 8 Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed— 9 for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. 10 Then they went home.
11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12 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. 13 “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.”
14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “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.”
16 “Mary!” Jesus said.
She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).
17 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.
Have you ever needed someone to recognize you? Have you ever needed someone to show up at just the right time and say just the right thing?
Grieving and heartbroken, she thought He was gone forever. He was the man, the Son of God, who she worshiped and loved, but her adoration had been replaced with mourning.
What was Mary to do, but to grieve and visit Jesus’ tomb?
So early in the morning, actually before the sun had met the darkness of night, Mary set out for Jesus’ grave.
But to her surprise, she found the stone over the tomb had been removed and rolled away. Shaken and startled, she ran to find Peter and John to tell them someone had tampered with Jesus’ grave and that His body was missing.
Upon hearing the news, the disciples ran as fast as they could to witness for themselves an empty grave. Peter and John were puzzled when the found the burial linens, but not Jesus’ body. They didn’t know what to do or think, so they went back home.
But no, not Mary – this was not right.
Her Lord and Savior was missing and she wouldn’t rest until His body was returned to its proper resting place.
Mary arrived back at the grave after the disciples had visited and left. She was distraught, but Mary found something that Peter and John didn’t encounter before. She found two angels sitting where Jesus’ burial linens were.
Barely able to see them through the blur of her tears, she exclaimed, “They have taken away my Lord and I don’t know where He is.”
In a state of desperation, she turned back to go outside and ran into a gardener.
She again cried out, “My Lord is missing, I have no idea where He is!”
The gardener looked at her… and simply said, “Mary.”
Mary immediately exclaimed, “Rabboni” which was Aramaic for “Teacher.”
I can’t even express how much my heart lovingly aches when I read this interaction between Jesus and Mary, because this is the Lord I know so well.
My heart is beyond joyful at this sentiment. I can hear Jesus saying it! I feel His tenderness and His resurrective power in it.
Imagine Jesus saying your name. Envision being in the height of your grief and pain, Jesus found you and lovingly grabbed your shoulder and said your name in the most tender manner you have ever heard.
What would hearing Jesus say your name aloud in one of your darkest moments do for you?
I bet you won’t have to imagine too hard, because we have all searched for Jesus. And we all have been found by Him too.
But being found by Jesus doesn’t just happen once in our lifetime. It doesn’t just occur at the moment of one’s conversion. We always need to be found by Jesus. We need to encounter Him in our worries, our stresses, our fears, our confusion, our broken relationships, our poor self-images, our insecurities, our failures, and our successes.
We need to find our Savior in all places of our lives. We need Him to say our name, to speak truths to our souls. And the Good News today on Easter Sunday is that Jesus is always with us and ready to speak our name to us, ready to bring light to the darkness, healing to the sick, and hope to the hopeless.
Jesus is always standing right next to us, but we often don’t recognize Him.
Like Mary, we don’t realize He’s there – we think He’s the gardener instead. But we need to open our eyes, our hearts, and our minds to the power of the Resurrection that is always with us.
This is all made possible because of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Because this is why Jesus gave up His life and defeated death. He wants to speak your name, every single day.
Could you imagine what your life would like like if, when you faced uncertainties, that you heard Jesus say your name? When you faced hardships, you heard Jesus say your name? When you faced unimaginable grief, you heard Jesus say your name? When you were lost and scared… you heard Jesus say your name?
This, my dear friends, is the true Good News. This is what we celebrate today. While we look forward to our future reality in heaven, we need to see the miracle that is always before us, Christ with us.
Living in this reality, well… it changes lives. It rids stress, it banishes fear, it makes you unshakable- it makes you like Jesus because He is pulsating through your veins.
Unfortunately, not many take hold to this message. Instead, they search for Jesus for a little bit, and when they can’t find Him, can’t feel Him, and don’t like He isn’t answering their prayers, they shrug their shoulders and say, “Well… this must be all there is to it.”
And I’m not talking about non-believers here. Because even in the Resurrection account, Jesus’ closest followers, John and Peter, quit looking for Him after they couldn’t find Him initially.
But it was Mary who was relentless. She was the one who didn’t give up, who kept searching.
This encounter between Mary and the risen Jesus highlights for us the importance of endurance in our Christian walk.
Because there will be times – no doubt you have already encountered them – where it feels as though you can’t connect to God, cannot hear God, can’t find God.
But He is there. He may not be visibly recognizable to you like He was to Mary when she thought He was a gardener, but He’s always there. He is always with us. He is always with you.
Don’t be like Peter and John in this story who searched for only a little bit and then went home. Be like Mary who was ready to endlessly search to find her Savior.
Nothing was going to satisfy her until she found Him.
And Jesus can always be found.
Happy Easter everyone! I hope you enjoyed this devotion series, because they are from my heart (and Aaron’s) to yours. Nothing is more important than our relationship with Jesus and it was all made possible 2,000 years on a bloody Cross and an Empty Grave. May God always have the glory!
And before I wrap up with the spiritual exercise and the prayer. I do have a little surprise for you. I have one more Passion Week Devotion for you tomorrow. I originally intended to stop the devotion series today on Easter Sunday, but God has really put it on my heart to have one more for you tomorrow.
And, you all…tomorrow’s devotion is my personal favorite of this entire series!
I seriously cannot wait for you to read it because it encompasses everything, and I hope it brings you to new depths in your relationship with Jesus. Oh, I can’t wait for you to check it out tomorrow!
Think about someplace in your life where you desperately need Jesus to show up and speak truth over. Imagine you are searching for Him, just like Mary in the biblical account. truly imagine Jesus saying your name. Feel the feelings of the risen Lord being present with you in the height of your sorrow, pain, trial. fill out more.
Wonderful Jesus, thank you so much for your life. Thank you that you are dependable. That you are reliable and that you are the conquerer of death. Despite the mockery, ridicule, the pain, the persecution, your first action back from the grave was to tend to Mary in the most loving way. You’re simply amazing, Jesus. You bring me so much hope and I am lost without you, my Lord. Help me to find you every single day. Help me to hear you say my name. Oh, how I need to hear you say my name. I love you from the bottom of my soul and I thank you for what you did for me and all who would follow a mere 2,000 years ago. Amen.
For more Passion Week Devotions click here!
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.