Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” John 20:15a (NKJV)
These were the first words Jesus spoke after His resurrection. They were spoken to Mary Magdalene. She was standing alone at the garden tomb about 6:30am on the first Easter Sunday. Her undying devotion had brought her to embalm the body of Jesus with spices. When she arrived, she found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. She was devastated or, as we would say in Northern Ireland, ‘gutted’. Horrifying loss, aching grief, powerlessness and emptiness would define her situation. In the darkness of her sorrow, Mary Magdalene needed someone to assure her that one day life would make sense again.
Mary was deeply upset by the shock of her crucifixion and now by the fact that tomb was empty. Why does Mary weep? She says:
“They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him.” John 20:13 (ESV)
She must have been thinking, “If only I knew where they laid Him, I could finish embalming His body!” But she didn’t understand the big picture, which included Jesus’ resurrection.
Often we too are like Mary. We’re devastated because we don’t understand the big picture of what God is doing. We’re disappointed because God isn’t working as we think He needs to work. We need to process our disappointments in light of the risen Saviour’s love and care for us. We often don’t understand His sovereign perspective. How hard it is to see clearly when devastating circumstances fill our eyes were tears. Everything gets blurry.
Notices Mary’s ironic complaint, “They have taken away my Lord…” It’s ironic because He is right there with her! We have God’s promise in Hebrews 13:5…
He himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV)
…yet we fail to see Him in our circumstances time and time again. He is the risen Saviour and He is always involved in what involves you. Paul said:
You do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (NIV)
Of course we grieve when we lose a loved one. But the Bible says that although we grieve, we do not grieve as those who have no hope. The hope that Jesus is risen, and that He is coming again to take us to be with Him and with our loved ones who have died in Him, comforts us through our tears.
Jesus does not gloss over our tears. “Why are you weeping?” Jesus asks us. He immediately follows it with another question in verse 15: “Whom are you seeking?”
What will our reply be? Will we be able to say honestly, “Lord, it is You that I’m seeking in the midst of my trials.”
Mary’s weeping ceased in the presence of the resurrected Christ. Mary had “seen the Lord” and her life was never the same again. May we know that He is with us and he will never leave us nor forsake us. May we experience what it means to be embraced by a God who knows us intimately and, in spite of who we are, loves us enough to go to the Cross.