Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” John 20:11-17
Today’s passage is a mixture of sorrow, confusion, and finally relief. The water reference here is to weeping and tears – samples of our souls. The Mary here is Mary Magdalene whose life was turned upside down by this Man who was perhaps the first person in her life who really saw her. It is ironic that she is one of the first to see Jesus after he has risen. The famous renaissance artist Leon Battista Alberti once said “Movements of the soul are made known by movements of the body.” Mary has a wondering soul and she did something about it, even when everyone else had perhaps given up.
There is much speculation about Mary’s life and the love she had for Jesus. I will not wade into those murky and potentially treacherous waters. What does seem clear is that she was a faithful follower of Jesus to the end, in fact beyond what appeared to be the end of His earthly life. She never stopped looking for Him, never stopped seeking. That is exactly the type of followers God is seeking. She really got what Jesus was trying to teach His disciples and others about being born of water and accepting the Living Water He offered.
It is telling that Mary was the only one of Jesus’ followers that stayed at the tomb expecting a miracle. She continued to seek Jesus out even when it seemed from a secular standpoint to be hopeless. She never lost hope and neither should we. I think most Christians will admit that being on the journey to follow Christ has both exhilarating mount top victories and depressing dry times where God seems to have left us or seems distant. The account of Mary includes all of these emotions and spiritual squalls packed into a single event.
The longer I walk this road of following Christ the more I am convinced that the highs and lows that Mary is experiencing, and that most Christians experience, are a feature not a flaw. It is through this relational roller coaster that we learn to hold on to Jesus. Of course there are a myriad of tempting substitutes in this land of oblivion that we are free to choose as well, but I think it is in this process of continuous choosing that we get good at seeking like Mary.
Prayer: Thank You God for choosing us, help us to continually choose You.