Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
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.”
I tore off the wrapping paper and couldn’t believe what my parents had picked out for my ninth birthday present. It was a book of fun crafts for kids. The cover consisted of shiny and blocks of bright blue and red, each block showcasing a perfectly executed craft project. Inside were illustrations and step-by-step directions for all 100 projects in the book.
The book enraptured me. I spent days reading through the projects and settled upon a miniature village made of milk cartons covered with paper, on which were drawn shingles, brickwork, and dainty windows. I gathered supplies for weeks and finally sat down to create a masterpiece all by myself. But the project was too hard. An hour later I gave up without having completed so much as a single building. The book went on the bookshelf and stayed there until Mom gave it to me years later when she moved to a new house. Paging through it with adult eyes, I could see the projects were too complicated for a child to complete alone. These were projects designed for families to complete together.
Whenever I read Mary’s words to Jesus (though she didn’t know it was him when she said them), that childhood gift comes to mind. She says, “Tell me where you have laid him,” referring to the body of Jesus which is not in the tomb, “and I will take him away.” Notice that she doesn’t say, “I’ll get help, and we’ll take him away.” No, she says, “I will take him away.”
Jesus, in all his grace, doesn’t respond with, “Really, Mary? You think you can move a dead body by yourself?” Instead he calls her by name. “Mary.”
Instantly, she knows her risen Savior. Immediately, she obeys his command to go back to her spiritual family and tell them, “I have seen the Lord.”
This Easter, many in our church body feel as hopeless as Mary did when she first discovered the empty tomb. For some reason, God in his perfect wisdom and timing, brought us face-to-face with a work of healing and forgiveness during Passion Week.
Though God provided us with an instruction book, complete with step-by-step instructions, the job to be done is far too big for any one of us to accomplish individually. Even when we study the directions together, pray together for strength and wisdom, and do the heavy lifting as one, this task is too big for us.
It will only be completed when we seek to hear Jesus speak by his Spirit into our devastation, grief, and sadness. When we instantly recognize his word and immediately obey his will even when we don’t understand it. When, like Mary, we cling to Jesus when hope beyond imagination appears. When, though we don’t understand how God can possibly bring beauty from the ashes of our ruined expectations and broken hearts, we boldly proclaim the glory of our risen Savior to a hurting world. When we trust his resurrection power and forgiveness to shine in and through us in the dark days ahead and praise him for the good and unseen things yet to come.
Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!