The sound of weeping cut through the still, morning silence. The wracking sobs and desperate cries struck a dissonant chord with the bright bird song that announced the early hour. It didn’t matter, Mary Magdalene was alone, bereft of comfort, bereft of the one who had come to her rescue before.
At least that’s what she thought.
Through her tears, she bent down to peer inside the tomb again, forcing herself to acknowledge it’s emptiness. Like salt poured into a wound, she had come to tend to Jesus’ body only to find it gone. But there, inside the tomb, she saw two men. Two angels dressed in robes of pure white, seated where Jesus’ broken and lifeless body had been laid only a few days before. The angels spoke.
“ They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’
‘They have taken my Lord away,” she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’
Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means “Teacher”).” John 20:13-16
The name “Mary” means bitter and, indeed, we find her here, in bitter anguish. Crying out in heartbreak for the loss of the man that she had followed so faithfully. And it is with bitter sadness that Jesus is greeted.
His first act as the triumphal King is to let the sounds of sorrow wash over His ears. To step into the presence of bitterness. This is the way that Jesus chose to reveal His victory. It wasn’t on a grand scale with pomp and circumstance. It was unassuming and tender. Full of the compassion that only He could display.
The first words we hear Jesus utter after His resurrection are “Why are you crying?”
His first concern is to acknowledge the heartbreaking condition of humanity, to be present in sorrow, to care about it and to wait upon Mary’s answer.
Jesus, even after defeating the very thing that had heaped sadness and suffering on Mary’s head, cared to hear about what troubled her. He listened and then He simply called her by name. And that was enough. Enough to make her feel so known, so loved, so restored that she saw Him for who He was. Her teacher and friend, the one who had changed her lifetime and time again.
We are in a season of bitter suffering right now. We have lost much. We are afraid. We are stripped bare as a society for the time being. Like Mary, we find ourselves weeping at the grave of all that we once held dear.
But it is Easter and once again, Jesus has stepped out of the battle He already won for us with care and love in His eyes and He asks, “Why are you crying?”
He cares about your suffering. He cares about your tears. He cares enough to listen while you pour out your anxiety and sadness. And then, just like he did with Mary, He will call you by name and reveal who He is. To you.
He still cares for the tears of a single person. He still sees and listens and speaks. He still waits with expectation for us to turn and see him standing before us in victory and love so that we can find comfort and purpose in His resurrection.
It is still the very heart of God to draw near to suffering. He still rescues us with a power that tramples upon death and with a tenderness that wipes away our tears.
So, amid your sorrow, in the middle of your bitterness, turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Let him see the tears as they fall and then, let Him displace them with his presence. He has risen. He has overcome it all and stands intimately with us in triumph.
Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” May you, like Mary Magdalene, experience the truth of those words this Easter season.
Originally posted on “The Hope Denver Church Blog”
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