Transformed and Awakened
Now 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. 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”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to My brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. –John 20:11-18 (NIV)
Everyone I know donates blood. Determined to deal with my fear about doing so, I said “yes,” when the blood bank called.
I went to the donor station. The nurse collected what she needed and removed the needle. Afterward, I felt invigorated, as though I could bike thirty miles. I was euphoric and proud to have finally conquered my version of Mt. Everest.
I stood to leave. The nurse assisting me said, “Since you’re a first-time donor, we ask that you sit for a couple of minutes over at that table, drink some juice and nibble a cracker.” I complied, walked twenty feet to the table, sat down, and brought the juice up to my lips . . .
. . . and awakened to five sets of eyes hovering over me. Watching them turn their heads this way and that way made me feel like I was being examined under a magnifying glass. One pair of eyes had a mouth and said, “You passed out, but you’re going to be okay.” They escorted me to a screened-off area and onto a gurney. My body took an hour-and-a-half to reinstate itself back to planet Earth.
While I lay there, I remembered my former theology professor at the University of St. Thomas, Frederick Mannella, and his explaining the difference between resuscitation and resurrection. “In resuscitation, we are brought back to our same state,” he said. (In my case, a little bit worse for the wear.) “In resurrection, one is transformed and awakened to a new state of being.”
We celebrated Easter and Christ’s resurrection from the dead one week ago. As Christians, we now live in post-resurrection life. We are the redeemed. We live, so to speak, in a different league than the world does. We are no longer, as Paul writes in Romans 5, old Adam players. Now “in Christ,” we are new Adam players.
But what does post-resurrection life look like and how shall we live in it? The historical account given of Mary Magdalene in John 20:11-18 provides helpful clues. It shows God’s angels are among us and serve a purpose, that when we demonstrate our faith we will find Jesus already in our situations, and lastly, the Resurrected Jesus loves us and when we sense this, it will prompt us to tell others of what He has done.
First, in our post-resurrection lives, we will see God’s angels among us and serve a purpose, as shown in John 20:11. Here we find the stone covering Jesus’ tomb has been removed. Mary Magdalene is grieving just outside the door when two angels appear inside the tomb.
Just as angels announced Jesus’ birth to shepherds, these angels bear tidings of another joy: Jesus has been raised from the dead. Situated at the head and foot of where Jesus’ dead body had lay, these Holy beings show that Mary is in a Holy moment. The angels show their concern for humans, as evidenced by their asking of Mary, “Why are you crying?” And while Mary tells them that the Roman soldiers have taken her Savior, the angels look beyond Mary to their Master, the Son of God. Their focus prompts Mary to turn around and do the same, which she does.
Likewise, in our post-resurrected life, this Scripture testifies to us that we are not here alone. Like Mary experienced in post-resurrection life, we will have encounters with the Holy. Angels, post-resurrection, will always direct us to Jesus.
Secondly, this Scripture proves when we demonstrate our faith that we will find the abiding Christ present in all aspects of our lives. In verse 13, Mary does not yet know she is about to meet the resurrected Christ. She does, however, display her faith and her faith is unshakable. She reveals to the angels that she is a believer. “They have taken my Lord away,” she says to them. Her use of “my Lord” is personal. In seeking Jesus’ whereabouts, she shows she cares about Him. She demonstrates this as well to the graveyard gardener, who unbeknownst to her is Jesus. “Sir,” she says to Him in verse 15, “if you have carried Him away . . . tell me . . . and I will get Him.” Even in her grief, her faith in Jesus is unwavering.
In addition, this post-resurrection story reveals Jesus was already in the garden. He is here now, present in our lives, too and goes before us each day. This gives us hope — to know that Jesus, ever the pursuer of His human creations — continually goes ahead of our situations.
“Woman, why are you crying?” says the One Who saved His people from their sins, to Mary. Here Christ demonstrates that though He is in a resurrected state, He has not forgotten humans. He knows we are emotional, empathetic beings — because He was one. He knows we grieve those to whom we have said an earthly good-bye. By His asking Mary why she is crying, He shows He is unchanged in His desire to reach into her life.
It is the same for us. What concerns us in post-resurrection life is of concern to Him.
Jesus’ next question, shown in verse 15, tests Mary and is specific. “Who is it you are looking for?” He wants to know that is it He whom she seeks. Mary is unwavering in her faith.
He asks the same of us. As the world beckons and calls, Jesus asks to those in a new Adam state, “to Whom do you look?”
And then, in verse 16, extraordinariness happens. Jesus says her name. “Mary.”
In Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, Madeleine L’Engle says that “. . . to be given a name is an act of intimacy as powerful as any act of love . . . When we name each other, we are sharing in the joy and privilege of incarnation.”
Mary. For her, it is an “everything” word. To say someone’s name denotes a specific individual with characteristics and a personality unique to that one person.
Mary. It is a name known by Jesus.
The Son of God, who created Mary, tenderly and compassionately communicates everything He feels about her. He does it with a word. Her name.
In this incredibly touching scene, Jesus reveals:
She is known through and through by Him.
He knows she loves Him.
He sees her faith.
He shows His love for her.
As Christians who live in a post-resurrected state, know this for certain:
Your name is a name known by Jesus.
He knows you through and through.
He knows you love Him.
He sees your faith.
He’ll show you He loves you.
That “everything” word, “Mary,” is all Mary needed to hear to know she was the resurrected Christ’s beloved. It propelled her full-sprint to tell others of her encounter with Jesus. “I have seen the Lord!” she tells the disciples. Being loved. It made Mary become the world’s first post-resurrection Good News bearer.
In our post-resurrection lives, may each of us know in full confidence that Jesus says our name. May we truly trust that we are known by Jesus. That we are beloved by the Son of God. And may it propel us to be Good News bearers to “all nations” too, so that others may know they are His beloved too.
Julie Saffrin, Hope Church member