Sunday, April 5, 2015

Whom Do You Seek?

1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Mag′dalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 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.” 3 Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. 4 They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; 5 and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, 7 and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 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.” 14 Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” 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.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rab-bo′ni!” (which means Teacher). ~ John 20:1-16, Revised Standard Version

Out of all the stories in the Bible, the account in which Mary Magdalene encounters the risen Christ at the empty tomb is among my favorites.

I’m struck by several things here: that Jesus first reveals His resurrected self to a woman, entrusting her with the joyful task of announcing to the disciples that He is indeed risen – quite the radical and amazing act for that particular time in history, but that was Jesus – and Mary Magdalene’s love for and devotion to Jesus, which is so evident in her returning a second time to the empty tomb – to mourn the loss of her Lord, yes….but also, to search for His body so that she can bring Him back to the grave site.

And then there are The Questions Jesus asks Mary when, as she’s weeping by the tomb’s entrance, she suddenly turns to find Him standing there, although she doesn’t recognize Him. Jesus, being Jesus, surely knows the answers to both questions, yet asks them anyway:

“Woman, why are you weeping?” and “Whom do you seek?”

It’s the second question that gets to me. Because I believe it’s a question that Jesus continues to ask even today, of each of us.

“Whom do you seek?”

A grief-stricken Mary Magdalene was seeking the lifeless body of Jesus: her Master, her Teacher, her Friend, her Lord. But once Jesus tenderly spoke her name and recognition hit Mary like a tidal wave, whom she found must have rocked her to her core. Whom she found was a very much alive Jesus, the Risen Lord; the Resurrection and the Life.

In this world, we seek many things: Fame, fortune, friendships. Answers to difficult questions and desperate prayers. Help, happiness, healing and hope. While there are many different people, places and paths through which we can seek to find any of them, there is only One in whom true and total fulfillment of any of our desires and needs can be found: Jesus, the Christ; the Risen Lord, the Living God, the Resurrection and the Life.

When Jesus whispers, “Whom do you seek?” what will your answer be?

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