Sometimes when we study a passage, the Spirit draws us back again to the verses. That is what happened here. This is a portion of last week's passage, and I'd like to focus here.
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13 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.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who 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.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 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.
As women, and as Christians, we have all been touched by sadness. Some of us have lost loved ones; some have lost relationships; some of us have lost our jobs or our health. We may be grieving over situations where we feel we have failed someone else, failed ourselves, or failed our Savior. Many times when we are sad we weep. Wiping away the tears becomes a reflex; we barely know we are doing it as we cry.
And sometimes it is very difficult to wipe all the tears away.
As we celebrated Easter, did you remember how God took Mary Magdalene from sadness to joy? How He moved her from brokenness to being whole? Mary knew what it was to be sad. She knew what it was like to cry. All her life, she had searched for meaningful relationships. She had ended up as a prostitute, trying to please men who were only interested in using her. They didn't care about her as a person; they didn't see any worth in her.
Luke tells us in his gospel that she came into the room where Jesus was having supper with one of the Pharisees. She interrupted their dinner by kneeling at His feet, weeping. She bathed His feet with her tears, and then wiped them with her hair. Finally she broke a lovely alabaster jar and put ointment on His feet.
She had found Someone in Whom was real love. Eternal love. He not only loved her, but He forgave her sins. Jesus told the Pharisee that she was one who loved much, because she had been forgiven much.
Imagine what a transformation that was! Her life was changed. Her tears were wiped away, and joy flooded her soul. Mary was so transformed that she traveled with Jesus and His disciples during His time on earth. And when He died on the cross, she was heart-broken. She came to the tomb early that morning, with the others, because she wanted to find some way to show her love to Jesus. She wanted to help in the completion of the burial ritual . . . by adding the spices and perfumes that had not been used in His hurried burial, she felt she could honor Him.
Then she discovered that the tomb had been opened -- the body was no longer there! She felt certain that someone had added insult to injury by taking away the body of Jesus. She stood weeping, not realizing that God was trying to help her. He was trying to wipe away her tears.
Many preachers have used the illustration of the woman whose house was flooded after a huge rain. She kept looking for higher ground and eventually ended up on the roof. In her prayers, God had told her that he would save her. Someone offered to throw a rope to her, but she refused. “God will save me,” she said. A man came by in a boat and offered to take her along, but she said, “No. God will save me.” Finally, a helicopter came to pick her up and she refused. The water eventually covered her house and she lost her life. In heaven, she asked God, “Why didn’t you save me?” And God said, “I tried three times, but you refused.”
God tried to rescue Mary Magdalene from her flood of tears several times, but at first she didn't understand. God still offers those opportunities to those who will listen today.
Join us next time, won't you?