Emmitsburg Council of Churches


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 . . .

The 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 died.
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 present.

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 her:

"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 disposition:

"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 dead!
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 Holy Spirit.


Read more writings of Pastor Jon