At the Garden Tomb

"Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance." (John 20:1 NIV)

Not only was the stone rolled away from the entrance of Jesus' tomb, but His body was not there. Already in deep grief, and now totally confused, Mary runs to tell Peter and John that someone has taken Jesus' body, and she doesn't know where they have put Him.

When they run back to the tomb to investigate, Peter and John find things just as Mary said. They see Jesus' burial linens, but His body is gone. They go back to where they were staying, but Mary lingers at the tomb, weeping.

Mary looks inside the tomb, and is shocked to see two angels sitting where Jesus had been laying. They ask her, "Woman, why are you crying?"

It's a bit of an odd question, isn't it? Asking a woman at a tomb why she's crying. Mary is still mired in grief. The angels know something she doesn't. Jesus is not missing. He's alive!

Mary turns around and Jesus is standing there, but she doesn't recognize Him. Perhaps it is the grief and the tears in her eyes. Perhaps it is the sheer impossibility that Jesus could be alive. After all, Mary had witnessed His crucifixion. She knew He was dead.

Jesus asks Mary the same question the angels asked: "Woman, why are you crying?" Then He adds a second one: "Who is it you are looking for?" Jesus' second question is crucial.

Who is it we are looking for on this Easter Sunday? A crucified Savior? Or a risen Lord? Do we read about Jesus in the Bible and have our hearts warmed by His grace and miracles, but leave Him there? Or do we know Jesus as a living person who interacts with our lives each day?

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.” (John 20:15b NIV)

Mary's world is about to be rocked. She thinks Jesus is the gardener. But He isn't. He's the vine who sustains the branches and produces the fruit. Jesus is the Giver of life, not the tender of the plants!

Then Jesus says one word to Mary that changes everything. He speaks her name: "Mary."

Suddenly, Mary realizes she has been talking with Jesus, not the gardener. She responds, "Rabboni!" which is Aramaic for Rabbi, or Teacher.

Jesus is alive. This. Changes. Everything!

He is not simply a dead-and-buried Rabbi from long ago who taught some great moral stuff like the golden rule. He is rather the risen Lord of the universe, who has conquered sin and death and who can offer those who trust Him forgiveness and life!

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!

No other fact has more impact on the life of one who believes in Jesus and chooses to live for Him and for eternal things. Death is done in, and we can live life! Jesus is not a dead Rabbi, He is a risen Lord!

He lives! He lives!

Christ Jesus lives today.

He walks with me and talks with me

Along life's narrow way.

He lives! He lives!

Salvation to impart.

You ask me how I know He lives?

He lives within my heart!

Happy resurrection day!

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