A Resurrection Meditation
A Guided Meditation on JOHN 20:10-18.
If you’ve never before attempted a guided meditation, here’s what I suggest. Play some recorded music as an emotional backdrop. The best choice is instrumental (not vocal), Christian, and of a slower tempo - something that doesn’t demand your attention. Read the following aloud, stopping to think and feel about what you’re reading. Don’t take notes - the emphasis here is on this moment and what may be gain by opening your heart to God. Take your time; “Good things come to those who wait.” Reserve an hour for yourself and God to meet privately or with a small group. Be comfortable without becoming sleepy. End with prayer where you tell God what you received through this exercise.
THE DISCIPLES WENT BACK TO THEIR HOMES
No one saw the scene depicted on our bulletin cover. No one saw the stone rolled away. No one saw Jesus walk out.
You can understand how no one on the scene that first Resurrection morning knew just what to make of the stone rolled away and the linens left behind.
BUT MARY STOOD OUTSIDE THE TOMB CRYING.
Mary Magdalene and the others had forgotten what Jesus had said about being put to death and rising from the dead. The darkness that shrouded her world as she journeyed to the garden is a symbol the mystery yet to be revealed to her.
They hadn’t yet received one of the great gifts of Easter: hope. Hope is steady confidence in God, in his ultimate triumph, and in his goodness and love.
Feel the rough stone under your fingers as you lean on the rock as Mary might have, steadying herself against a world that shook her to her core. The sights, sounds, and smells of the garden are lost to you; your awareness is limited to your own broken heart.
AS SHE WEPT, SHE BENT OVER TO LOOK INTO THE TOMB
Having steadied her weak knees and steeled her resolve, Mary decides to take a risk. To look for herself. Not content to take the word of others, she must see with her own eyes what Peter and John described before they walked off and left her.
It takes courage to stare into the darkness. We have faith, but faith is hard-won when our eyesight fails us. Like a penitent, Mary had to stoop to look within the tomb. It was a sign, an illustration of the humility of her heart.
Her faith, like all genuine faith, was rewarded.
[SHE] SAW TWO ANGELS IN WHITE, SEATED WHERE JESUS’ BODY HAD BEEN, ONE AT THE HEAD AND THE OTHER AT THE FOOT.
You won’t see the supernatural until you look for it with faith-sensitized eyes.
Peter and John didn’t see them. They didn’t get it. They didn’t take any chances.
Good for Mary! We honor her boldness and rejoice in her privilege to see God’s messengers. She not only saw them, but heard the voices of heaven use simple human words.
THEY ASKED HER, “WOMAN, WHY ARE YOU CRYING?’
These angels expressed the heart of God Himself. God was concerned.
It was for Mary’s sake the question was asked. He wanted Mary to not just look outward, to not just dwell on the appearance of the angels; He wanted Mary to look inward too. She would have to know her own heart in order to answer.
“THEY HAVE TAKEN MY LORD AWAY,” SHE SAID, “AND I DON’T KNOW WHERE THEY HAVE PUT HIM.”
Granted this vision from heaven, Mary nonetheless fails to free her thoughts from earth. She has beheld something few mortal souls have beheld, and yet her concern is for a corpse.
You remember Mary came to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus; to properly prepare it for burial. She had no hope of seeing Him alive; her memory of His teaching failed her. We can applaud Mary’s single-mindedness. She had taken the risk of leaving home before the sun graced the horizon. She had come to the tomb to do one last thing for her beloved master and had been thwarted.
But she hadn’t given up. She insisted on following through with her plan. Indeed, the spices and cloths lay on the ground near her, right where she dropped them in surprise at seeing the stone already rolled away.
Disappointment did not deter this woman on a mission!
AT THIS, SHE TURNED AROUND AND SAW JESUS STANDING THERE, BUT SHE DID NOT REALIZE THAT IT WAS JESUS.
Perhaps He stood between her and the rising sun. That would be appropriate, wouldn’t it? The Risen Son silhouetted by the rising sun?
“WOMAN,” HE SAID, “WHO IS IT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR?”
What kind of question is this for Jesus to ask her? He knows the answer full well.
Once again, God is trying to get Mary to look within herself. Jesus wanted her to go all the way in faith and answer, “You. I’m looking for you, Jesus.”
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.”
Poor Mary. Now we begin to feel sorry for her. She has practiced “selective seeing” and now “selective hearing” as well. Her mind almost fully in the world, she neither sees the form of Jesus nor hears his voice.
In this moment, Mary is a symbol of the majority of humanity. People do not expect Jesus to be God. They don’t believe He rose from the dead. In their lack of faith, they neither see nor hear Him.
Jesus does not give up on them, however, just as He did not give up on Mary. He tries one more time. He says her name.
JESUS SAID TO HER, “MARY.”
We all enjoy hearing our name spoken aloud. It gets our attention in a way other words fail to do.
In that precious moment, the world fell away from Mary. She saw and heard, as if for the first time. There was no gardener. There was only Jesus.
This is how we all come to faith, if ever we listen to the voice of Jesus. If ever we have faith to see beyond what the world is willing to allow as truth. God appeals to each of us personally. He calls us by name.
We are startled by a sudden awareness of the truth.
SHE TURNED TOWARD HIM AND CRIED OUT IN ARAMAIC, “RABBONI!” [WHICH MEANS TEACHER.]
Why did Mary have to turn toward Him again? When she saw and heard a gardener, Mary despaired and turned from Him. In all our days, despair seeks to turn our gaze away from Jesus. We look away in the moments we need Him most. How tragic those moments are.
Recognition hit Mary suddenly. All her senses suddenly came alive, aware of the incredible truth: He was not dead!
The awareness flooded her conscious mind. Not moving by volition but purely on instinct, Mary reached out to touch Him; to hold Jesus and never let Him go again. Like a child reaching out to grasp a flower or a butterfly or any beautiful thing, she wanted to possess Him. But we don’t let our children crush the beautiful thing with their clumsy, excited fingers, do we? We restrain them. Accordingly, Jesus said,
“DO NOT HOLD ON TO ME, FOR I AM NOT YET RETURNED TO THE FATHER. GO INSTEAD TO MY BROTHERS AND TELL THEM, ‘I AM RETURNING TO MY FATHER AND YOUR FATHER, TO MY GOD AND YOUR GOD.’”
With her mind now on heavenly things, Jesus commissioned Mary. He made her a partner in His Resurrection Day plans. He made Mary one of His messengers.
Where God the Father had sent angels to Mary, now God the Son now sends Mary to His disciples. What an honor and privilege it is to carry the message that Jesus is not dead; He is alive forever.
May we see ourselves as sharing that honor and privilege with Mary, the one who held it first.
MARY MAGDALENE WENT TO THE DISCIPLES WITH THE NEWS: “I HAVE SEEN THE LORD!” AND SHE TOLD THEM THAT HE HAD SAID THESE THINGS TO HER.
Mary was faithful. Mary obeyed Jesus.
Forgotten in the excitement and no longer needed, she left the burial spices and burial cloths in the garden. That mission was rendered obsolete and she discarded it to take up this new mission with the same single-mindedness that brought her to the garden in the first place.
Mary went to the garden in darkness, to do her best for Jesus. She left the garden with enlightenment, determined to do her best for Jesus.
Pray to be spiritually alert, receptive to the direction of God the Holy Spirit. Pray to be God’s messenger, making the good news known to all who should be our brothers and sisters. Pray to be a minister of the resurrection, serving our risen Lord.