At the Tomb

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Today’s Scripture: John 20

I love to engage my sense of imagination with this Chapter. Join me in imagining what Mary must have experienced at the tomb.

Mary didn’t wake up early that Sunday. Actually, she really never slept that night. With some of the other women, she rose and hefted the burial supplies. They set out to the tomb where they saw Joseph and Nicodemus lay the lifeless body of Jesus just before the Sabbath began Friday evening. Deep in the predawn darkness, they made their way in a silence born of shock and grief. The garden where the tomb was located smelled of damp earth and aromatic foliage. How would they roll the stone away? Perhaps someone would be there to help.

As they came upon the tomb, they saw that it was open! How could that be? All of the women but Mary ran back to tell the other disciples, but hopelessness overwhelmed her and she could not take another step. She watched as Peter and John came to investigate. Not making any sense of what they saw, they returned to their hiding place with the others. Finally, curious as to what the men had seen, Mary leaned into the entrance of the tomb. She saw (had the men seen the same?) two angels sitting on the slab where Jesus had laid.

John 20:13
“Dear Woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.
“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

So heartsick, Mary doesn’t even find it remarkable that there are two angels in Jesus’ tomb and that they spoke to her! So overwhelmed with grief, her senses were dulled into stupor.

John 20:14-15
14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear Woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

Same question, similar answer. “What is wrong with these people,” Mary must be thinking! “They’ve taken my Lord and won’t tell me where to find him. I just want to show my love for him one last time by tenderly caring for his broken body.”

John 20:15-16
15 She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
16 “Mary!” Jesus said.
She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

How her heart must have leapt when she realized the one speaking to her was the one she had been looking for all her life! Could she dare believe it was actually him? Yes! It was the Lord. She clearly saw him and heard his voice calling her name as only he did! Her lethargy gone, she ran to give his message to the disciples! Mary knew! Jesus had honored her by letting her be the first to see him that morning.

Jesus invites us into that encounter every day. He calls our names and waits for us to recognize his voice. He is patient with us. When we hesitate he comes a different way. He calls us by another method, as he did with his slow-on-the-uptake disciples (v. 19, 28)! He waits, loves, serves, comforts, and performs miracles in our lives:

John 20:31
But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

Have you heard Jesus call you into a relationship with him? How did you answer? What have you done about it?

Next Steps:
If you have recently invited Jesus into your life, I hope you have told someone about it. It is the most important decision you will ever make! Talk with a trusted Christian friend, staff, or Dream Team member at your campus so you can discover what your next step might be.

Lord, I celebrate your victory over death! I am grateful for what that victory means in my life. The power that God used to raise you from the dead now lives in me, giving me the strength and the desire to follow your ways. It is an honor to do so. Thank you, Jesus! Amen.

This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.

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1 reply
  1. Julie
    Julie says:

    Laurie, what a beautiful description of the moment Mary realized she was with Jesus! Truly brought tears to my eyes! I long to be in his presence!

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