Read John 20:1-18
I expect that any kind of party celebration would have been the last thing that Mary Magdalene would have expected as she approached Jesus tomb that first Easter morning. The last few days had brought nothing to celebrate. Yes, the Pharisees and leaders of the Temple could celebrate. Jesus was now out of their way. The soldiers could celebrate, their work was now done. But for Mary there was no cause whatsoever to celebrate as the last few days had brought her nothing but heartache and tragedy.
Of course, Mary had been there, she had heard the leaders scream for Jesus death, she had witnessed the Romans beat and flog Jesus, she had winced and wept as he was nailed to the cross. She was there to hold her arm around the shoulder of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and she was there to close His eyes when it was all over. What was there to celebrate.
Yet still she wants to be there again. So in the early morning mist, with her cloths and spices, she leaves her home and sets off up the hillside towards Jesus tomb. She probably anticipates that it will be a sombre task as by now the body will be swollen and death’s odour will be all too self-evident. But as she approaches the tomb she gives an unbelieving gasp. The stone in front of the tomb has been moved – someone has taken the body.
So she runs to tell Peter and John and they rush out to see for themselves. Peter comes out of the tomb, bewildered, John emerges, believing but Mary just sits in front of it weeping – and the two men go home to leave her in her grief. But have you ever wondered, why didn’t Mary go off with them at that point or at least back to her own home.
Maybe she hears a noise. Maybe she hears a quiet whisper. Or maybe something in her heart tells her that she is not alone. But for whatever reason Mary stays, and not only does she stay, she stoops down and peers into the tomb, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the darkness.
Woman, why are you crying. She sees what appears to be a man, but he’s radiantly white and he’s one of two lights on either end of the vacant slab. Like two candles blazing on an altar. They have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have put him. Notice she still calls Jesus her Lord. In spite of all Mary Witnessed, Jesus is still her Lord..
Such devotion moves Jesus and He moves forward and asks her why she is crying. Then in that poignant moment, Jesus reveals Himself to her by calling her name and despite her undoubted faith, there would have been no doubt that Mary would not have been expecting events to unfold exactly as they did in those few minutes.
This revelation of Jesus in this way would have taken Mary by surprise.
And it got me thinking, when did we last allow God to surprise us in this kind of a way. You see, I believe that all too often we get to a point where we believe that we have God all figured out that we know exactly what He does. That we sometimes think of God as some kind of computer or machine, whereby if we input all the correct data and push all the right buttons, God comes out as exactly who we think He is.
But I wonder, when did we last stop to consider or reflect upon the fact that God is at his best when our life is at its worst. That this is when through his Son and by his Spirit that He will come and whisper to us as he did to Mary and all we need do is listen for him.
Listen to the Messiah whisper to the Samaritan woman – I am He who you speak of.
Listen to the widow from Nain eating dinner with her son…
Listen to Lazarus laughing with Mary and Martha…
Listen to Jesus as he invites a convicted criminal hanging next to him on the cross to join him in the Kingdom of Heaven later that day…
And listen to the surprise as Mary’s name is spoken by a man she loved, a man she had buried – Mary…
God appearing at the strangest of places, doing the strangest of things…
Mary, he whispered softly…Mary was not unsurprisingly shocked, it’s not often you hear the voice of God speak to you so clearly. But when it did, she recognised it at once and she responded as she should – she worshipped him…
Today is Easter and with millions of Christians across the world, we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour. And because of today many more names will be called, many more knees will bow and many more may come to know the Lord and celebrate.
The question is – will you be one of them?
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him.