Read John 20:1-18
Imagine being in a room with the men and women that you have known better than anyone else. You have traveled throughout Judea, Galilee, up and down the Jordan, on both sides of the Sea of Galilee, and even through Samaria. As you went from place to place you gained confidence that you were on the right path.
At one point, the teacher you are following is identified as more than a teacher. He is “the Teacher.” He comes directly from God. The title you know him by is Messiah or Christ. You call him, “Master.”
He turned water into wine. We walked on water. He bested the Pharisees and silenced the Sadducees. He was welcomed into Jerusalem as a king.
He has told you for some time now that he must go away. He has told you that he must die. But he has also told you that the Kingdom of God is near. He said he was going away but that he would come and get you after he had prepared a place for you.
You heard all of these words; yet you are in shock that he was taken, tortured, and killed and you were helpless to do anything.
Now you are in a room with the others who knew him so well. You sit and your gut hurts. You pace in the crowded space and your heart aches as it never has before. Nothing will make the pain go away. Being silent hurts. You can’t bring yourself to talk about what has transpired. It just hurts.
You are torn inside out and feel trapped in a room.
Then there is a knock on the door. You carefully crack the door open, not sure if it will be the Romans coming for you or someone coming to join you in your misery. The only thought that comes to mind is that misery must love company. So many around you are hurting so much.
You recognize Mary Magdalene. While you were agonizing over the loss of your teacher and friend; she went to tend to the body of Jesus. She could not do this until now without violating the laws regarding the Sabbath. This is not the time to be breaking any more rules.
Your world is about to change.
The world is about to change.
Everything is about to change.
Mary says, “The stone has been rolled away.”
Your senses begin to return.
She continues, “The body of our Master is gone. I don’t know where they have taken him.”
How outrageous. You don’t know if she is crazy or accurate, but you are compelled to go see for yourself.
You break into a run.
Another is running with you. It becomes a race, one pulling ahead of the other. You are outrun, but your race companion stops at the entrance.
You go in.
You see what Jesus last had on, but you see no Jesus.
The items are not just draped or dropped on the shelf in the tomb. They are neatly folded.
You know that this is something other than a stolen body, but the scriptures and prophesies are still not clear to you, at least not yet.
You do the only thing you know to do. You go home.
But by this time, Mary has once again returned to the tomb. She stays when you leave.
She is hoping that she can still find the body so she can do what she came for. Her Master’s body must be properly prepared. The men have their calling. This is what she knows to do.
She must find him.
Then things start to happen.
She looks in the tomb one more time. We know the feeling. We misplace something and look in the same place over and over.
But this time there are two angels seated where the body of Jesus had been laid.
They ask her, “Why are you crying?”
At some point you have to wonder about the intelligence of angels. Didn’t they know about Jesus? Really, how could they not know?
There is another person present. Perhaps he is the attendant. Perhaps he is the gardener.
He asks the same question. “Why are you crying?”
She pleads with him to tell her what he knows.
What have they done with my Lord? Have you taken him somewhere? Please tell me.
And in a single word, Mary understands the two previous questions. She understands how anyone could say, “Why are you crying?”
For Jesus calls her by name: “Mary”.
In that instant Mary realizes the he lives. Jesus is alive.
But this is not a time for hugs and conversation. Jesus tasks Mary to carry the good news to the disciples.
She returns to them and says, “I have seen the Lord.”
I have seen the Lord.
It is interesting that the Angels ask, “Why are you crying?”
The first words that Jesus spoke were, “Why are you crying?”
Why are you crying?
What an exhilarating experience! What a range of emotions these few people experienced on that first Sunday morning. These few lived in despair, disbelief, curiosity, excitement, joy, and yet bewilderment at what had transpired early on a Sunday morning.
Jesus asks, “Why are you crying?”
He had overcome sin and death. He had overcome the world. He had liberated humankind from bondage.
The emotion appropriate to that occasion is joy.
Even tears of joy.
Today we don’t have that firsthand experience that Mary, John, and Peter shared. We don’t even have a taste of what those 11 men closest to Jesus felt as they went from uncertainty to revelation of an incredible truth. Jesus lives!
But we do have the whole story. We don’t have to discover it piece by piece. We don’t have to reconstruct the scene based upon what she said and he said and who appeared to whom.
We know that Christ lived, died, and rose again.
He appeared to many before ascending into heaven.
We know that he was the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world.
We know that we have life in him.
If Jesus were to send us a text this morning, I suspect it would say something like this: “Why are you crying?”
Why would anything in this world rob us of the joy we know in Jesus?
Why would any circumstance or trial or loss or incident rob us of our joy that we know in the Lord?
Let us rejoice in the words of Mary, “I have seen the Lord.”
Her words changed the lives of the disciples. Things would happen very quickly for them.
These words would change the world. Jesus rose from the dead and she was witness to this miracle.
These words were the beginning of changing everything.
We have only lived on this side of, “I have seen the Lord.”
We still have trials and sorrow and tribulation and pain and suffer loss and hurt, but Jesus is asking us the same question: “Why are you crying?”
For Jesus has overcome the world.
He defeated death.
He took away our sin.
We will have trouble in the world. Count on it. And we will cry, but we will cry tears of joy.
“Why are you crying?”
Because Christ the Lord is risen. He is risen indeed.
In him, we have died to the world and are alive in Christ.
In him is life abundant and life eternal.
In him we have life.
“Why are you crying?”
If we are to shed tears today, let them be tears of joy, for the One who was dead has been raised and he is the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Let us cry tears of joy for in his resurrection we have life and life eternal.