Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen.
Mary Magdalene was the first to see the empty tomb. Her response caused quite an uproar. When Mary went to the tomb, she noticed that someone had removed the heavy stone from the entrance. In her mind this only meant one thing – someone had taken him! In her quick reaction, she ran back to tell the disciples.
The disciples upon hear the news ran to the tomb. As they ran, I am sure there adrenaline was pumping. After all, they had all hidden away at the crucifixion. They had not taken a stand for Jesus – instead they just stood watching the horrible day unfold. I am sure their guilt had gotten to them all. They sat, hiding when Mary came and gave them the news, doubting all that had been taught to them.
So, as they ran to the tomb and Simon Peter saw the strips of linen that had been wrapped around Jesus laying on the ground, their first reaction was….THEY took him! How dare They do such a thing! The unfairness of it all swallowed them up. They were angry, frustrated, and I am sure they wanted to find who had done it.
So read on….
11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13 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.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15 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.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
Mary was so overwhelmed with grief that she couldn’t quite see that Jesus was standing right in front of her. She had already in her mind jumped to the conclusion that They had taken Jesus, so she couldn’t see the Truth that was right in front of her. She jumped to stand up for Jesus when she saw the “gardener” begging him to please tell her where Jesus’ body was. This took courage for a woman to ask such a thing of anyone. But did Jesus really want her to take that stand? Did Jesus really need Mary to find Him? Or did He just want her to open her eyes to Him?
Here is the thing…..many times I believe that Jesus calls me to stand up for Him, and don’t get me wrong, I jump at the chance. But how do I really know that is what Jesus wants? Just like Mary at the tomb. She had in her mind that They had taken Jesus – and so she couldn’t see He was right in front of her. Her stance, while courageous, was not needed. In fact, she missed exactly what Jesus needed her to do – see Him.
It made me think – how many times do I allow my own judgment to cloud the fact that Jesus is right in front of me? When do I jump to stand for Jesus when He really doesn’t need me to do so? Am I really listening or am I just taking a stand because I believe it is the Truth?
I realized this morning that if my actions tend to take people away from Jesus – just as Mary’s actions did when she went and told the disciples that They had taken Jesus, then I might be missing the Truth. I might be doing my will and not His will.
The Truth is that Jesus wants us to see Him. He wants us to see that we can be part of His plan – the plan to draw more people to Him. When we take people away, when we bring our wrong judgments into the picture, then we cannot bring people closer to Him. We, in fact, turn people away from Him.
Don’t get me wrong, the Truth came out in John’s gospel. The disciples finally recognized that Jesus had predicted this all, Mary finally sees Jesus, and eventually everything is unveiled just as Jesus predicted. But Mary’s initial response slowed that all down.
What if Mary would have run back to the disciples that day and exclaimed – “The Lord has Risen – Praise Be to God – Our Lord and Savior’s Truth has arrived!” How then would the disciples reactions have changed?
We have these options every day. We can choose to be open to Jesus or we can choose to be open to sin. We can choose to bring people to Jesus or we can choose to bring people to our own judgments. It takes a lot of prayer to be open to Jesus. We have to find a personal relationship with Him in order to recognize Him and His ways.
So do it! Take the time! Stand up for Jesus by turning your heart, mind, and soul over to Him. Let Him lead you to the Truth. Most importantly, remember the mission – we are called to lead as many as we can to Christ, not away from Him. We are His disciples.