But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'” Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her. (John 20:11-18 NASB)
This passage has always intrigued me. Since when did Jesus ever tell anyone to NOT cling to Him? Not only that, but He hasn’t even gone home yet!
I remember going on trips with the band and having a difficult time waiting to leave and go home. The same thing happens every day when I get closer to finishing work. I’ve been giving people guitar lessons after work at the office a couple days a week. I can hardly wait to get done so I can go home and be with those I love dearly. Jesus’ home is way better than mine. He’d be going home to glory. And yet for some reason, He stops on the way to bring comfort to Mary. What does that say about how much Jesus cares for those who are in deep sorrow?
I want to draw your attention to Mary though. She’s the one who reacts more like us. When things go terribly wrong and something dreadful and unexpected happens, we may not turn and bawl, but we do look down and cover our faces in sorrow. The other disciples have left and she’s still there weeping. She didn’t even recognize His voice.
Jesus didn’t make it easy for her either. He called her “woman” first. But it’s almost as if He’s expecting something from her. It seems as though He was wanting her to remember what He said about all this before. He had told her that He was going to rise again. Why didn’t she believe?
We do the same thing, don’t we? Things look bleak. We stop believing and wade in sorrow for days until something turns around for the better. It’s easy to allow the pain we endure to block out the promises of God. It’s easy to let what’s in front of us distract us from what’s going on behind the scenes. It’s easy to forget.
Mary was expecting a dead Jesus. But He wasn’t anymore. She was expecting the worse because what was already the worst that could happen had happened a few days before. She was expecting a gardener and what she got was Jesus alive. He wanted her to look for Him. He was there. Still there. He hadn’t even gone home yet! He remembered His promise and kept it.
What do you look for in Jesus? Is He a teddy bear? A good luck charm? The Great Power in the sky waiting to kick us while we’re down? A Judge that constantly tells you that you’re not good enough? How many promises of His do you believe? What do you expect?
This whole passage reminds me of parables Jesus taught. “What you’ve done to the least of these, you’ve done it unto Me.” “Invite the poor, blind, lame to come in so that my house may be full.” “If I your Lord and Master wash your feet, you should wash one another’s feet as well.”
It’s easy to get into the habit of only seeing a Jesus we want to instead of the Jesus He really is. Jesus is the poor man with a sign asking for food. Jesus is the homeless man we take different road to work on in order to avoid. Jesus is the guy in prison who needs someone to come and alongside and strengthen. Jesus is the waitress barely making it on her own. Jesus is the crazy neighbor down the road who has a bunch of weird yard decorations. Jesus is the old man in the hospital who never seems to get well enough to stay out of there. Jesus is the least.
We can get so lost in our own sorrow that we also don’t recognize Him when He comes to comfort us. We have our own expectations of how things should happen. But Jesus shows up in ways we don’t expect. Our vision of the true Jesus blurred by the lack of faith in believing His promises. I’m not mocking Mary, but Jesus wanted to be sought. He wanted to be found.
Do you look for Jesus? Can you recognize His voice when He speaks? Even when He returns again, He says to lift up your heads because your redemption is drawing near. When He’s coming for you, do you turn toward Him or away?
I pray we get so used to hearing His voice and turning toward Him even when He appears unlike what we expect, that we can say with Mary, “I have seen The Lord!”