The Holy Gospel according to St. John 20:1-18
Early on the first day of the week, while it was
still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone
had been removed from the tomb. 20:2 So she ran and went to Simon
Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said
to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not
know where they have laid him." 20:3 Then Peter and the other
disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 20:4 The two were
running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached
the tomb first. 20:5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen
wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 20:6
Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went
into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 20:7 and
the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen
wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 20:8 Then the other
disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and
believed; 20:9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture,
that he must rise from the dead. 20:10 Then the disciples returned
to their homes. 20:11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As
she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 20:12 and she saw
two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been
lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 20:13 They said
to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have
taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him."
20:14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus
standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 20:15
Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you
looking for?" 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."
20:16 Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and
said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). 20:17
Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet
ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, 'I
am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your
God.'" 20:18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples,
"I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these
things to her.
The Gospel of the Lord . . .
Living and Caring Christ:
From Mourning to Gladness & Joy!!
In his annual Easter address to all of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America pastors here in the United
States, our Presiding Bishop, Mark Hanson writes the following
words, "For many today, the future seems to hold no hope. Time
moves on, yet our lives feel immobilized by the weight of
suffering and sorrow. We long for a sense of direction but are
uncertain of whom to follow and where to go." The Bishop then
poses the question, "Could it have been [the same] for the women
who went to Jesus' tomb that Easter morning?"
Surely, Mary, and the other women who had witnessed Jesus'
crucifixion and death - must have been emotionally drained with
their sorrow and shock at all of the events leading up to today(!)
-- they had followed Jesus as he made the agonizing journey to
Golgotha, they had been there as he was nailed to the cross and
lifted up and they stood at a distance and wept as he hung and
Surely there was no one who could have been more sad than the
three Mary's, Jesus' Mother, Mary -- Mary, the wife of Clopas, and
Mary Magdalene . . .
But then something completely unexpected happens!!
At first it is Peter and John who are running to the tomb of Jesus
after Mary Magdalene explains that "Jesus' body is no longer
there." -- In an all out race to the tomb -- the two disciples run
with alarm, their hearts pumping with fear and excitement, " the
Lord's body is missing! What's going on??!"
They run to look inside, they see the burial cloth and wrappings,
neatly folded and rolled, but no body! Mary stands outside weeping
and wondering where Jesus' body has been taken. The disciples
observe the tomb -- draw some preliminary conclusions, but then
depart. Mary Magdalene is not so easily separated from her
anxiousness about what has happened to the body she came to anoint
with the burial spices.
She had come in the darkness of night with the intention of
carrying out the ancient and customary practice of her people. The
body of the dead was to be honored and her intentions were to
carry out the burial rite discreetly at this early hour. But all
of her plans: the expense of her resources in purchasing the
special burial spices, the emotional energy dispensed, her
material and temporal outlay (she had planned this whole morning
in advance -- gotten up before sunrise), all these things – now
she has undertaken in vain. The body of Jesus is not there. A
great sense of foreboding overtakes her. Despair is immediately
She looks again into the tomb – perhaps it was that she could not
trust her own conscious self in the early hours of the morning now
dawning. She, like any of us who has misplaced something valuable,
will return to look again into the tomb. All of its darkness
causes her to hesitate, but she must look again.
To Mary's surprise, she sees two angelic beings, who calmly ask
"Woman, why are you weeping?" She says to them, "They have taken
away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him."
This exchange does not brighten Mary's concern. She is so
enraptured by the thought of the Lord's body missing, that she has
not jumped at the sight nor sound of the angels. But she merely
turns away – continuing with her quest.
. . . A man approaches her, she thinks he is the gardener of the
grove -- but it is the resurrected Christ!! We note how Jesus does
not apprehend her with glory, for as he says, "I have not yet
ascended to the Father." But instead, Jesus comprehends Mary's
"Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?"
What a powerful lesson for us on this Day of all days. In spite of
the overwhelming gladness we feel – Christ is raised from the
And yet, Jesus is sensitized to where he finds us. As Bishop
Hanson observed: For many, "the future seems to hold no hope. Time
moves on, yet our lives feel immobilized by the weight of the
world's suffering and sorrow. We long for a sense of direction but
are uncertain of whom to follow and where to go."
So we should listen and watch carefully as the resurrected Jesus
responds to Mary, " Why are you weeping? Whom are you looking
for?" . . . .
Of course, we're all caught up in the lightness and joy of this
Easter morning. We're especially glad to share the beauty of this
sanctuary, the greenness of the grass outside, the buds that are
swelling on trees and the amazing fragrance of these Easter lilies
showing off before us!
But the Resurrected Christ, is interested first and foremost! in
You! (and me) the troubles of our world. "Why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?" What are the concerns that are really
foremost on your mind this morning??" Jesus wants to know, and he
stands, even as we're about to burst with tears of joy . . . (or
with a cover up of our true disposition) .
Jesus stands before us, face to face, even as he was before Mary
that morning. And Jesus wants to know, "How are you? See its ME!!
I am with you!!"
Can you imagine Mary's excitement? She has seen the Lord!! She
wanted to jump up and down and Cling to Jesus, but, at Jesus
command, she goes to tell the others that he is alive!! It is an
exciting moment – The Lord has been Raised from the dead! The
promise of eternal life has been given authenticity!! And yet, the
resurrected Lord stands before you and I this morning. In spite of
all of his glory, he is not so other-worldly that he would not
hesitate to ask you and me today, " What is it that troubles you?
"Why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?"
As we respond in our own ways to this living and loving Lord . . .
let us also become caught up in the actions of those early
witnesses to the empty tomb. Even as we are honest about our own
despair – let us be ready to RUN and GO to tell the GOOD NEWS of
What God has Done in Raising our Lord from the Dead. For this is
our faith, He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed -- Alleluia!!
In the name of the Father and of the Resurrected Son, and of the
more writings of Pastor Jon