Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
We at MEI spend a lot of our time talking to global workers about the difficulties they encounter while pouring their lives out for the sake of the gospel. Men and women – for whom the world is not worthy – die to themselves, take up their cross, and follow Christ into some very dark places. Many of these precious people are confronted with the realities of grief and struggle to know how to sit in the pain without running away. In our passage today, we get a glimpse into how Mary Magdalene started to process her pain.
Once the angels told the women that Jesus had risen from the dead, some ran back to the other disciples, but Mary Magdalene seems to have separated from the group in her confusion. She slows down and faces the grief and confusion she is feeling. In John’s account, Mary Magdalene is sitting outside the tomb and hears the question asked twice, “Why are you crying?” Most grieving people don’t have the energy for banal questions from others (she is, clearly, in a cemetery staring at a tomb), but Mary engages both times. In her first response to the angel, Mary says, “They have taken MY Lord.” Do you hear the intimacy of her words – He was “mine”? She responds with the raw truth that what was once hers has been ripped away.
Then a voice comes from behind her asking the same question, “Why are you crying?” Mary once again answers who she believed to be the gardener: “If you know where His body is, I will go and get Him.” In her grief, she is still trying to fix the confusion and make sense of the pain. Then she hears her name spoken by the One she seeks and loves: “Mary.” Earlier in this Gospel, we hear Jesus say, “My sheep know my voice and listen to Me.” Mary knew His voice, heard her name, and responded exuberantly. I can just see Jesus having to peel her off of Him as He tells her to let the other disciples know where they can find Him too.
Not all grief is resolved by having what was lost returned to us. Innocence is lost, relationships are broken beyond repair, disappointment settles deep into the soul. Can we learn to stay in the grief like Mary did and put words on what we have lost? In that holy space, Jesus shows up and calls our name. Can you hear Him today?
Sit back and listen to this rendition of “In the Garden” and see if you can sense the intimacy and joy of your Lord.