Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” John 20:15
Jesus *said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene *came and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her. John 20:17-18
As you may be already familiar with, there are more than 300 prophecies about Christ’s first coming that were fulfilled with pinpoint accuracy. That is an amazing number of prophecies that were fulfilled at the time of his first advent. If more than 300 prophecies were fulfilled literally and pint point accuracy, there are three times more prophecies regarding the second coming of Christ. What does it say to us? The second coming of Christ is three times more certain than his first coming.
The mystery of the first Easter.
However, there is one crucial observation we need to make regarding his resurrection. Although there were hundreds of prophecies about Christ’s birth, life, sufferings, and death, which were fulfilled, the old testament Scripture is largely, commonly, and purposefully seems to be silent about the bodily resurrection of Christ. There were somewhat vague hints like Isaiah 53:10-12, Psalm 16, and Psalm 22.
God is all-powerful, omnipotent, omnisient, and omnipresent. However, Satan is not. Satan thought the death and burial would the end of Christ, the promised Messiah. Bible says, then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the twelve.”
Another observation is this – Although the first prophecy of the savior- regarding the seed of the woman who would crush the head of Satan was, of course, given at the beginning of the human history after the sin and disobedience of our first parent was given in Genesis 3:15- what exactly it means and how the crushing of the head of the Satan would happen down in the history were not explained. It remained largely a mystery not revealed by God. The soon coming resurrection of Christ blinded even Satan after His death. However, he knew about the death of the Messiah.
You see, God kept certain mysteries intact until their fulfillment, and now the resurrection of Christ is revealed and explained how the crushing of the head of Satan happened. How the crushing happened is explained by Paul in Colossian 2:15, the Passion Translation translates the event, “The Jesus made a public spectacle of all the powers of principalities of darkness, stripping away from them every weapon and all their spiritual authority and power to accuse us. And by the power of the cross, Jesus led them around as prisoners in a procession of triumph. Jesus canceled out every legal violation we had on our record and the old arrest warrant that stood to indict us. He erased all our sins, our stained soul-he deleted them, and they cannot be retrieved. Everything we once were in Adam has been placed onto the cross and nailed permanently there as a public display of cancellation.”
The tomb under tight security.
They, energized by the power of darkness, did Everything humanly possible to stay the Jesus body inside the tomb. What were the things they did:
- Matthew recorded in 27:10 a larger stone was rolled against the door of the tomb. This was a heavy-weight stone with over two tones. Only 4 to 5 people could move such a stone. Remember, the women’s worry was who would move such a large stone for them to anoint the body.
- Matthew 27:66 reports, Roman Govt sealed the tomb, which means they made a compound around it and fastened the tomb and the location with cords and sealed it. No one could break the seal of the Roman Empire without an immediate death penalty.
- On top of these, Matthew said in 27:65-66, based on the request of the Jews, the guard was placed around the tomb so that nobody would come and steal the body from it. Now the Roman guard was 16 unit men. If one of the guard members fell asleep, he would be beaten and burned with his own clothes was the severe punishment. Moreover, not only one would be executed, the whole 16 men unit would be executed if one fell asleep while on duty. With this type of tight security, no one would be able to take or steal the body of Jesus from the tomb.
The Chronological events on the first Easter Sunday.
Now let us piece together various events that occurred on the first Easter Sunday with all this tight security around the tomb. By reconciling all Gospel, we come with this chronological developments:
- Jesus rose from the dead sometime in the pre-dawn hours before the Mary Magdalene and the other Mary and women came to the tomb for anointing His body.
- Mathew says an earthquake happened because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, came and rolled away from the stone, and sat upon it- heavy stone of over 2 tons that can be moved only by at least 4-5 people. Remember, the women’s concern was who would move the stone to anoint the body of Jesus.
- The guards shook for fear, became like dead men-knocked unconscious.
- When they woke up, they fled in fear and reported to the Roman Govt what happened.
- Then the early morning after these things, Mary Magdalene and other women came to the tomb- found the tomb empty-they did not find the Lord’s body. (Luke 24:1-12).
- The women were terrified and confused. Two men suddenly stood there in dazzling clothes and said, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? “He is not here, but He has risen.” Still on the empty tomb in Israel.
- They (the women) returned to tell the disciples- they thought they were talking nonsense.
- Peter and John decided to investigate. The two ran together, and John ran ahead of Peter and came to the tomb first
- Looking inside the tomb, John saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in.
- Peter came, following John, entered the tomb and saw the linen wrappings lying there and face cloth which had been on his head not lying with the linen wrappings. However, it was rolled up in a place by itself.
- Now after peter, JohnJohn also entered the tomb, and he saw and believed. It says He (John) believed.
- The whole truth of Christ’s resurrection hit home in John’sJohn’s mind, but I don’t think it home with Peter at this point.
- They went back to their homes-the evidence seen, and the words of Jesus hit home the truth of Christ’s resurrection in John’sJohn’s mind, resulted in faith and belief. Peter may not have been convicted as of yet.
The re-focused attention on Mary Magdalene
The disciples went home, but Mary could not. She stood outside the tomb weeping. She was the last one who left the place of crucifixion and the first one who came to the tomb on Easter very early morning. Mary Magdelene came from the village of Magdala on the shore of the sea of Galilee. Luke reports in 8:2 that Jesus cast seven demons (KJV says seven devils) out of Mary. She was totally enslaved and possessed by demonic powers. One demon is bad enough, and seven are seven times worse. Nobody knew how she got into such a pathetic condition. When Christ saved and freed her from the demonic possession, she made up her mind to follow him wherever he goes. She joined with other women to help Jesus and disciples-Luke says in 8:2-3 they contributed to support out of their private means and following Jesus and disciples from village to village to serve Him. She was so devoted to Jesus that she was always seen close to Jesus. When the Lord hung on the cross, she stood nearby with Mary, his mother. When they took the body down from the cross, she was right there to see it. When they placed him in the tomb, she was sitting on the edge of the rock, just opposite to the grave (Matthew 27:61).
Immediately after the Sabbath restriction was over, on Saturday evening, she purchased spices because she wanted to anoint his body. Remember Jesus was hastily buried on Friday to finish all before the sundown sabbath. As was the custom, they did not get the time and opportunity to anoint his body with spices. And now, early Sunday morning, even before the sun was up, she, along with other women, came in the darkness to the tomb to finish the job of anointing her dear savior’s body.
John saw and believed. They all went back home. However, Mary was confused and weeping, remained standing there. As she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb. She saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. Nobody is there inside the tomb. They said, “women, why are you weeping? She came with a wrong conclusion- she said the reason of weeping- she said they had taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” At her first visit early in the morning, the angels said to the women, “He is not here, but he has risen. They also said remember how he spoke to you while he was still in Galilee, saying the
Son of man must be delivered into the hands of the sinful men, and be crucified and the third day rise again, and they remember his words.” You see, she had all the proofs of Christ’s resurrection right in front of her but came with the wrong conclusion.
The compelling pieces of evidence of the resurrection.
The empty tomb is the most compelling proof throughout history. Larger stone of over 2 tons, the Roman government sealed the tomb with the immediate death penalty. Roman guards consisted of sixteen men, Not only Mary and other women, Peter and John, and all the disciples witnessed the empty tomb. The Roman soldiers saw the incidents and empty tomb and reported to the govt. The Jews saw it. In just a few weeks, when Peter preached and challenged the Jews right near there in 10 minutes walk away from the tomb, the listeners were pierced to their heart and asked them what we shall do now? And 3000 people believed and baptized on the same day near the empty tomb area. That is quite an amazing number of people responded in repentance. They were not fools to get baptized when they heard the news God raised him from the dead, to get baptized and join the church without verifying the fact of the empty tomb. You see, the empty tomb was verifiable then and now and all through history.
In the book of Acts that describes the church’s birth and spontaneous growth in detail, nobody ever disputed or questioned the empty tomb’s truth. No one ever came with the proof that the tomb of Jesus had his body in it. Nobody was able to produce any evidence or evidence of the body, bones, or organs from anywhere. No one ever refuted or challenged the disciples about their christ’s resurrection statements by arguing against the resurrection. If Christ did not rise, where is His body? Why was the tomb empty after three days though it was sealed and guarded by the then world empire- powerful Roman Govt?
The second compelling evidence is the unusual boldness of the disciples. You see, the cowards and frightened disciples who were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, became flaming missionaries and evangelists in a matter of few weeks who challenged the Jews and authorities even in temple courts and public places. What caused such a drastic change in their mental condition. The confused, afraid, shut, and locked inside the room now out on the streets and temple court and places and fanned the flame worldwide.
Jesus arose as He exactly predicted.
All the gospels record what Jesus said to the disciples before his death. Mark said 9:31, “the Son of man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days, he will rise.” Luke recorded 18:31, “Jesus took the twelve aside and told them, we are going up to Jerusalem, and Everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him. On the third day, he will rise again.” Mathew recorded 17:22-23, “when they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day, he will be raised to life.”
The source of our life and resurrection.
At the tomb of Lazarus, this statement, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die.” No one ever made statements like this. (John 11:25). He said those who would believe in Him as their savior and Lord will live again even if they pass through the hard door of death. Why? He is, in fact, the source of life and resurrection. He is the source of both. Our breath comes from him, and also, the resurrection comes from him only. Jesus is the source of your life, your breath, and he gives resurrection if you die and eternal life in heaven- Mark this – to those who believe in him as their savior. Jesus asked Martha do you believe this?
Beloveds, May I ask you this question? Do you believe this? Do you believe Jesus is the source of your life and the source of resurrection? This is the message of the first Easter.
Weeping Mary turned into an announcing missionary.
Now one more point- all the evidence of Christ’s resurrection was right in front of Mary Magdalene. Yet she wept over the sorrow of missing her beloved Jesus. She loved Jesus deeply. However, she missed his physical presence with her. Jesus called her name- Mary! She turned and said to him, Raboni, which means, ‘master.’ How much sweet is your name to you? Jesus called her name with his personal, loving touch. Mary, I am here, and I know you, I love you, and I will be with you. She responded ‘master’- Jesus is the master of all lives, including her life. I see her response as an act of worship. It appears she may have knelt and wrapped her arms around him and not allowing him to leave. I am not going to let you go anymore. However, Jesus said to her, Stop clinging to me. She thought Everything is going to as usual as before. Jesus said, no, but many things are different now. As he explained earlier in Luke 16, there is a great chasm fixed. But Jesus explained the future to her. I am going to ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.
Our weeping is also understandable amid losses. Mary had to let Jesus go to His Father’s presence for bigger and much wider work. Life is letting go. Life is releasing the things to which we cling so closely. We need to let our loved ones go that they might fulfill God’s will and plans. There is a time to cling, and there is a time to stop clinging in God’s calendar. Mary had to let Jesus go for a much wider God’s plan and purpose. We also let people and things go so that God’s best could come.
The two questions Jesus asked Mary are the same questions He asks us today. You put your name in place of Mary. Jesus calls your name and asks, why are you weeping? All the evidence, proofs of Christ’s resurrection, His words are right in front of you. Yet you weep? Is there a real need to weep once the truth hit home, as it did to Mary eventually? Second question- who are you asking? In your pains and sorrows, did Jesus become out of context for you? Are you seeking dead Christ or living Christ? Mary, are you seeking the dead body or letting God’s bigger and wider plan come into your life?
Do you know what change happened to Mary? Those two questions, I believe. Why are you weeping? When you have all the evidence, proofs of Christ’s resurrection, His words, and promises are right there in front of you, then why am I weeping? Mary, whom are you seeking? Are you seeking a dead body to anoint spices, or are you seeking God’s much bigger and wider plan to come into your life?
You see, the weeping Mary became the first witness and missionary of Christ Jesus. NASB translates the next verse, “Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.” And that He said these things to her. The Greek word says, “Mary came telling!”
That song we sing says Mary came with gloom to the tomb. She wept, continued weeping. However, she left as the first missionary and evangelist –Mary came back with telling. Mary came announcing. She stopped weeping. She stopped seeking the dead body in the tomb. She left all there. She began running back to the disciples. She came announcing. She became the first missionary who said; I have seen the Lord.
I want to end with these comments:
- Christ’s resurrection is the only antidote for your personal failures. It is the only source of hope. It is the only guaranty for your future. There is nothing else out there. Our future hinges around this single event
- Are you still weeping on this beautiful Easter morning? Why should you? Are you weeping because of failures? Weeping due to severe loss? Weeping for some other reason? Are you clinging to the past? You have to let go of your past, losses, or even failures so that God’s new things can come into your life.
- Jesus said He is the resurrection and life. No one would and could make such a statement. He is the source of your life now and the source of your future resurrection if you die. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in Me shall live even if he dies.” Then Jesus asked, “do you believe this”? He asks do you believe this? Martha, Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
- If you have not placed your trust in Jesus as your savior yet, please pray with me now from your heart.
- You can repeat after my words.
“Father in heaven, I believe my future hope and victory hinges on Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection on my behalf. I believe Jesus is the resurrection and life and believe and place my trust in Christ Jesus. Please help me to stop weeping. There is no reason to weep when I see the evidence of your resurrection, your promises, and words. Help me seek you and the treasures and wisdom available in you and your word-the Bible. Bless me today, and I allow you to send in your new, bigger, and wider things in my life. Make me your witness and help me to announce you. You turned a weeping Mary Magdalene into the first missionary in this world regardless of her seemingly bleak background. Please save me today and then send me today. I pray may your hand be upon me to do your will in my life. I pray in the name of Christ, my savior. Amen.”