Scripture Readings: Acts 10.34,37-43; Colossians 3.1-4; John 20.1-9
“Then the disciple who had arrived at the tomb first went in. He saw and believed.” – John 20.9
Mary Magdalene went to the other disciples and announced, “I have seen the Lord.” – John 20-18
The action words seeing and staying express relationships in John’s gospel. On Easter Sunday and its octave, we hear the good news of Jesus’ resurrection from John 20. Three disciples come to Jesus’ tomb and see it empty. Only one sees more deeply and only one stays to grieve.
Mary Magdalene comes first at dawn, finds the tomb open and empty. She suspects Jesus’ body has been stolen. She runs to get Peter and the beloved disciple, and the three hurry to the tomb. The beloved disciple sees the body wrappings and the empty burial place and believes. His seeing becomes the deeper insight that is faith in his friend.
Peter and the beloved disciple return to the company of Jesus’ followers, but Mary Magdalene stays. She remains, weeps, grieving the loss of her teacher. Significantly this scene takes place in a garden like the one where God created the first humans and walked with them. Easter is a new day of creation
Angels ask Mary Magdalene why she weeps. She turns and explains that she doesn’t know where the body is. Then a gardener asks why she weeps and who she is looking for. Again she asks where the body is. Her focus is on the past. But when the gardener speaks her name, “Mary,” Mary Magdalene turns again, now recognizing Jesus’ voice and answers, “Rabbouni, Teacher.” She has stayed with her grief but in meeting Jesus she turns toward the future.
“Go to my brothers and sisters,” Jesus commissions her, “and say to them I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Mary Magdalene is the first to encounter Jesus risen. She becomes the apostle to the other apostles, goes, and tells them the good news, “I have seen the Lord” and how their relationships with Jesus will last.
With which disciple do you most identify? Who responds the way you would—Mary Magdalene, Peter, or the beloved disciple? Where or when have you experienced Jesus present?