“Mary stood weeping outside the tomb” (John 20:11), writes John, weeping, we presume, not only because they had crucified Jesus, not only because she is grieving his death, but weeping because someone has stolen his body. Or so she thinks. “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him” (John 20:13). We can only imagine Mary’s grief. Those who have lost a loved one know what she is feeling. And that’s why what happens next makes Easter all the more a day of miracle and wonder
Suddenly, Mary comes face to face with the Risen Messiah. But she doesn’t recognize him she thinks he is the gardener until he calls her by name. Hearing his voice her tears of sadness are transformed into tears of Gladness. You might imagine that she want to charge at him to hug him. But he says do not touch me. Barbara Brown Taylor, the eloquent Episcopal priest, points out that the scripture never says that “Mary reached out and tried to hold Jesus. His comment, she writes, was a peculiar thing to say, unless …Unless it was what she called him – my Teacher – the old name she used to call him … but that was his Friday name and here it was Sunday – an entirely new day in an entirely new life.”[i]
Was Jesus saying, “Don’t touch me because you must forget the former things and behold all things are new!” I AM the Risen Savior who calls you to follow me into a brand new way of living! Mary suddenly no longer cries with sadness, she weeps for joy! She no longs sees her dead teacher she helped bury on Friday. She sees Jesus the Christ alive Easter Sunday! What a miracle and wonder!
The old has passed away behold the new! See that Good Friday Roman Cross that provoked cries of terror, grief and fear, Behold it will be forever a symbol of faith, hope and love provoking tears of gladness and delight!
This past week the Boston Marathon has again taken center stage globally. We may not have taken notice but it will take place tomorrow, the day after Easter. An estimated 2,000,000 people are will be in attendance. All are coming for more than just a race, they are seeking to reclaim, take back, find redemption from last year’s bloodbath.
Our Boston Marathon experience offers us a modern-day version of the resurrection story As with every resurrection, this is not restoration of the old, but new life born out of the experience of death. Lives are still lost, limbs are still missing, hospital and rehab bills still pile up — and yet people have worked their way toward resurrection hope. Resurrection good news is never a solitary pursuit. In story after story from Boston, the community of survivors holds each other up. Good news comes to people whose lives are now woven together by the work of making sure good is born out of evil. This kind of resurrection happens not in the absence of death, but includes it, encompasses it, embraces it, and then transforms it, by an effort of heart and will.[ii]
The First Easter begins with Mary crying out of grief and sadness. Not long after, tears of gladness and joy flow as the Risen Christ calls her by name and invites her to let go of the past and arise and follow him into a whole new day and a whole new life. He continues to call us by name inviting us to let go of the past, let it die so that we can experience the miracle and wonder of Easter in our lives Today! Amen!
[i]Barbara Brown Taylor, “The Unnatural Truth” in The Christian Century, March 20–27, 1996, p. 325
[ii] The immediate word by Mary Austin: SECOND THOUGHTS, https://store.sermonsuite.com/content.php?i=788038035 april 20, 2014