“I have seen the Lord!” These are the words of Mary Magdalene in John chapter 20 from that first Easter day. Words of great joy and victory. Words that were very hard for her to get too.
That first Easter morning we find Mary, along with a few of the other women, heading to the tomb of their Lord Jesus in the predawn darkness. They’ve got a BIG problem standing in the way of their plans to give Jesus a proper burial. That stone! Who would roll it away? As they arrive it appears as if their prayer has been answered…the stone had been rolled back. Mary scans the scene, makes a quick diagnosis; comes…no jumps…to a conclusion. “Calamity, catastrophe, cataclysm, a considerable set-back…a daybreak debacle! Grave robbers! The horrible situation that I’m in the middle of just got worse. What will I do? What can I do? I know, I’ll run and involve someone else in my nightmare. So that’s what she does…runs, runs off in the darkness. By now the sun has risen. Light is filling the earth. Her darkness is sorrow, unbelief, sin. She is still lost in the darkness of her sin.
I don’t want to bag on Mary. As a matter of fact, the love that she shows for her Lord and Savior puts me to shame. She’s the one coming to serve him, even in death, before daybreak that Sunday morning. She is willing to do anything to recover his body…go pick it up and carry it to another tomb if need be. How would she be able to lift him? Where might that other tomb be? At the thought of this injustice to her Master she weeps uncontrollably. That’s love! A love I wish that I could muster for Jesus.
The problem for Mary was, and all too often is for us is, that she thought she had it all figured out, without having all the information. She, we, assess whatever is in front of us with our worldly eyes, make a judgment, panic and then try to fix things; make right what we think has gone wrong. We add to our troubles, our pain; our sorrows by inventing trouble that just isn’t there. In all things, we should shine a little light on the situation. Apply what we know from the Word of God, or go to it to find out what we don’t know…at least not yet. Mary believed in the situations that she saw with her own eyes. God wants us to look at things, not only with those eyes, but with the eyes of faith; of trust in him to take care of us, provide for us, and to save us from all calamity. He’s given us the great gift of his Word to peel back the onion of darkness and let light shine in.
To her credit, Mary came back, for another look, but she still couldn’t get through her grief. She stood there, crippled, weeping, until God…Jesus himself…took things into his nail scarred hands. He comes to her, speaks to her, asks her a question; Woman, why are you weeping. In the darkness of her heart she could not recognize him, even his voice. Then Jesus says to her a word, in that old familiar voice, “Mary”. In that word, that Word of God, the darkness is destroyed. Mary can see, see the truth; see her Lord and Master. She now could see him through the eyes of faith. She could recognize him for who He is, the risen Son of God, her Lord and Savior. Her grief instantly turns to overwhelming joy. Now He looks different, sounds different, is different, as his is a glorified spiritual body. But his love is the same, the same love that has been given to us in his love letter to us, the Bible. If those who were there that first Easter had really listened to him, heard him, a whole lot of heartache could have been avoided.
King David uses the beautiful words of Psalm 119:105 to describe that morning. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” It’s the Word of God that pierces the darkness, destroys our darkness, and allows us to see what is really happening, and avoid that hurt, fear and anxiety. I’m reminded of the disciples of Jesus who He sent out ahead of him in a boat, into the worst storm they’d ever seen. In the middle of all of their trouble and terror they see a man walking on the water. Their first reaction? It’s a ghost! Our troubles have just gone from bad to horrible! They didn’t recognize him. They put limits on the Son of God, and what He could do. In their darkness they could not see the light. Once again Jesus cleans up the mess, as He does our messes, with his Word. “Take heart, It’s me! I’m here to rescue you. I’m here to make right what has gone wrong.