“After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.” (John 19:38–42, NRSV)
Jesus was buried in a garden. Life started in a garden. Jesus prayed with and protected his disciples in a garden. The new life of resurrection happens in a garden. This is the abiding place where we belong.
“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. 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.”” (John 20:1–2, NRSV)
“Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.” (John 20:3–7, NRSV)
“Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.” (John 20:8–10, NRSV)
The theme of our study in John has been Come and See. The disciple sees the empty tomb and believes. That is the point of this story.
“But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 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. 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.”” (John 20:11–13, NRSV)
Mary doesn’t see yet. She sees the burial linens. She even speaks with messengers from God, but she can’t see through her tear stained eyes. She is focused on her loss and grief.
“When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 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.”” (John 20:14–15, NRSV)
She sees Jesus, but does not recognize him. She is still blinded by her assumptions and pain.
“Jesus said to her, “Mary!” (John 20:16, NRSV)
Then he speaks her name. That’s what it took. Jesus said in John 10:1-18 Jesus said that he is the Good Shepherd. The sheep hear his voice, they know him, and, in knowing him, they follow him into life.
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).” (John 20:16, NRSV)
She calls him teacher, and in so doing she calls herself a disciple. The word disciple means learner or student. That is our relationship with Jesus. He came to show us the heart of God and teach us how to live in the life of God.
“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.’ ”” (John 20:17, NRSV)
Jesus told his disciples in John 14:1-14 that he was going to prepare many dwelling places for us with God. Jesus’ death is not the end. Jesus’ resurrection is not the end. Jesus’ ascension is the gate that opens the pathway for our dwelling with God, through Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit. God is our Father, which makes us all siblings, and we are invited to abide as God’s family.
“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.” (John 20:18, NRSV)
Once Mary’s eyes are opened and she sees, she can’t help but to testify. That is the pattern of John. We are invited to Come and See, to witness where Jesus dwells. When we see the signs of Jesus–how he connects with the outcasts, heals the sick, feeds the hungry, and raises the dead–were are compelled to testify. Each one of us is invited to be like Mary. Run home and shout, “I have seen the Lord!”
He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia!