They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “And I don’t know where they have put him.” At this she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? What is it you are looking for?
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.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). (John 20:13-16 NIV)
I’ve loved how my Bible study class has studied John throughout the school year, following the ministry of Jesus and perfectly coinciding with major events such as Easter. I’ve heard the same scriptures gone over with so many different viewpoints — I’m absolutely loving this!
One of my favorites so far was one that we read for this week’s Bible study. Easter has come and gone, but there are 40 days during which Jesus walked the earth showing himself to many witnesses, so this is where my Bible study found ourselves this week. Mary Magdalene was one of the first such witnesses, and she didn’t even recognize Jesus at first! “At this she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.”
I paused there as I read this the first time and thought, If Jesus were standing in front of me, would I recognize him? Here is a woman who had spent time with Jesus while he was here on earth, and yet, she still didn’t recognize him. We spoke about this in our discussion group, how she probably couldn’t see past her grief. What Jesus went through was traumatic, and those who followed him most closely were reeling in their grief and anxiety. How often have I done this — not recognizing Jesus right there in the midst of everything?
And yet, John goes on with one of the most beautiful exchanges in the passage: Jesus called Mary by name, and she recognized her teacher. How blessed is it to be known! Isaiah 43:1-2 says, “But now this is what the Lord says — he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine’” (NIV). And our response as his chosen: John 10:27 says, “My sheep know my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (NIV).
Jesus has always known me. Psalm 139 demonstrates this kind of knowing. But when I don’t recognize him, or when I can’t see him through the fog of all that’s going on in front of me — such as in Mary’s case through the grief of losing Jesus — my Lord will call out to me. He will reach out using my name. He might have to say my name a couple times, as he did with Samuel. But I also know as his sheep, I will know my Lord. I keep my eyes and ears on him, and he’ll keep me aligned even as everything else seems to overwhelm me.
Miel can be reached by email here.