Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb, and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. (John 20:1-12)
O: Mary Magdalene has come early to the tomb, found it to be empty, and has run in shock to Peter and the other disciples. Peter, John and Mary have returned to the tomb, found things just as Mary had described, and then they return home but Mary remains. She is weeping outside the tomb, still thinking Jesus is dead and now missing. As she weeps, she looks again into the tomb and sees the angels who announce resurrection, in the midst of her weeping.
A: As we near the end of John’s gospel and our Red-Letter Days of Lent journey, it’s interesting to read the Easter story on Good Friday. This is the day for the story of suffering and death and grief and mourning. We have to get through this day before we can move on to Easter. Jesus must be placed in the tomb before we can notice he’s not there anymore. But death and dead ends are powerful things. Once he’s in the tomb, it’s awful easy to leave him there. Once our lives are stuck in dead end thinking, it’s difficult for us to believe new life is possible. That’s where Mary was, weeping outside the tomb - stuck in crucifixion and death, making it tough for her to imagine new life. But that’s exactly where and when Easter happens for her. The angel announces resurrection – life, hope, joy – WHILE SHE’S WEEPING! My/our dead ends do not deter the God of new life. The message of life beyond dead ends comes to us while we are staring at the dead end – while we are grieving and mourning over that place. And then the Risen Jesus himself joins us in our weeping and reveals himself and what he stands ready to do with our dead ends.
P: Holy Spirit, thanks for revealing this powerful truth today. I don’t want to skip past the pain of this day, the suffering and death you endured for me. I ask you to join me in all the dead end places of my life right now, speak my name, and show me the new things you’re ready to do in and for and through me!
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What stands out for me in this passage is also that Jesus met everyone right where they were...Mary in her grief, the disciples in their fear, and Thomas in his doubt. He is there right where we are and offers us His Peace!