‘I have seen the Lord’
A Short Resurrection Sunday meditation
I’m intrigued by the various responses to the empty tomb. For me the distinction is seen most clearly in the contrasted reaction of the disciples and Mary Magdalene (see John 20:1-18).
You probably know the story well. On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene sets out before dawn to the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid. To her surprise, the stone had been rolled away and Jesus was gone. Mary runs to Simon Peter and the other disciples to tell them of the news. Peter and another disciple run to the tomb to see for themselves. Sure enough, the burial clothes were there, but Jesus was gone. Perplexed, the disciples walk back home.
But Mary Magdalene returns to the tomb for another look. Maybe this time Jesus’ body will be there (like when we look in a drawer for something that’s lost and a few minutes later return to the same drawer thinking our object of concern must be there and we missed it). Mary did not miss the body of Jesus. He was gone. Mary breaks down. As has often been the case in these horrible few days, tears fill her eyes and her head rests in her hands. She is in no hurry to return home.
Now two angels sit in the tomb and ask Marry a question, “Woman, why are you weeping?” For the second time this morning Mary reveals her heart in these words: “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Now a man chimes into the conversation, saying, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Thinking this man was 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.” This is Mary’s third plea to see Jesus.
The story takes a dramatic turn when Mary realizes the gardener is really the One she is seeking after. “Mary,” is the only word Jesus needs speak. Mary recognizes Jesus, her heart is flooded with joy and her legs run with new strength to tell the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!”
It’s an amazing story with renewed power each time I read it.
But my question is this: Why did the Resurrected Jesus first reveal Himself to Mary Magdalene before the other disciples? The answer seems to be obvious. Mary was not asking, “Is Jesus here or not?” Her persistent question — asked to anyone in the vicinity of the tomb — was simply, “Where is He?” For Mary, the answer to her question was not found in the tomb, but in a Man. Where have they laid Him? Take me to where you put Him. These were her questions.
In this Resurrection season it’s a question I ask of myself: Am I content this Resurrection Sunday to see an empty tomb and go home, or will I seek the presence of Jesus? Will I be content with a sermon and a service, or will I wait in anticipation for Jesus to manifest Himself to me?
Jesus promises “he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:21). It’s this promise we see fulfilled in the pleas of Mary Magdalene.
So praise God that He has spared you from the wrath you and I deserve. Praise Him for His Son, in Whom our unrighteousness is traded for His righteousness and our death for the life we have in His Resurrection. But also, as Spurgeon reminds us, use this opportunity to seek the manifestations of Christ. “Seek such spiritual manifestations if you have never experienced them; and if you have been privileged to enjoy them, seek more of them … God bless you, and lead you to seek these manifestations constantly” (sermon 29).
Pursue Jesus and especially that you would “see Him” during this Resurrection weekend. Don’t be too quick to walk home.