Alone. Depressed. Confused. I am all those things some days. I am weeping. I feel abandoned. Where is my Jesus? Why has He left me?
Mary Magdalene knows and understands. Mary was lingering alone in the garden. Mary is looking for the dead Jesus.
Jesus is not dead. Jesus is alive. Jesus has been resurrected to an incorruptible body. Mary will soon discover the truth. It will change her forever. It has changed me forever. No longer alone and confused. That is some very good news.
But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus’ body had been laid.
They said to her, “Woman, why do you weep?”
Recall Proverbs 8:17 — “I love them that love Me; and those that seek Me early shall find Me.” Mary loved her Lord and came early to the garden to express that love.
Peter and John had gone home by the time Mary got back to the tomb, so they did not convey to her what conclusion they had reached from the evidence they had examined. Mary still thought that Jesus was dead. Another verse comes to mind—Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
Jesus wants to know, why am I weeping. Don’t I know that Jesus has conquered death and is alive?
Mary’s weeping was the loud lamentation so characteristic of Jewish people when they express their sorrow (John 11:31, 33). There is certainly nothing wrong with sincere sorrow, because God made us to shed tears; and weeping is good for broken hearts.
The sorrow of the disciple, however, must be different from the hopeless sorrow of the world, because we have been born again “unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3, NASB).
We weep — not because our believing loved ones have gone to heaven — but because they have left us and we miss them.
When Mary looked into the sepulcher, she saw two men in white. Their position at either end of the shelf where the body had been lying makes us think of the cherubim on the mercy seat (Ex. 25:17–19).
It is as though God is saying:
- “There is now a new mercy seat! My Son has paid the price for sin, and the way is open into the presence of God!”
- Mary apparently was not disturbed at seeing these men, and there is no evidence that she knew they were angels.
- The brief conversation neither dried her tears nor quieted her mind.
- She was determined to find the body of Jesus.
Why did Mary turn back and not continue her conversation with the two strangers?
- Did she hear a sound behind her?
- Or did the angels stand and recognize the presence of their Lord?
- Perhaps both of these speculations are true or neither is true.
- She was certain that the Lord’s body was not in the tomb, so why linger there any longer?
Why did she not recognize the One for whom she was so earnestly searching? Jesus may have deliberately concealed Himself from her, as He would later do when He walked with the Emmaus disciples (Luke 24:13–32). It was still early and perhaps dark in that part of the garden. Her eyes were probably blinded by her tears as well.
Jesus asked her the same question that the angels had asked, “Why are you weeping?” How tragic that she was weeping when she could have been praising, had she realized that her Lord was alive!
Then He added, “Whom are you seeking?” (He had asked the mob the same question in the Garden — John 18:4.) It is encouraging to us to know that “Jesus knows all about our sorrows.” The Master knew that Mary’s heart was broken and that her mind was confused.
He did not rebuke her; tenderly, He revealed Himself to her.
- All He had to do was to speak her name, and Mary immediately recognized Him.
- His sheep hear [recognize] His voice and He calls them by name (John 10:3).
- Apparently Mary had turned away from Jesus, for when He spoke her name, she had to turn back to look at Him again.
What a blessed surprise it was to see the face of her beloved Master!
All she could say was, “Rabboni — my Master, my Teacher.”
The title Rabboni is used in only one other place in the Gospels, Mark 10:51 (in the Greek text “Lord” is “Rabboni”). “Rabbi” and “Rabboni” were equivalent terms of respect. In later years, the Jews recognized three levels of teachers: rab (the lowest), rabbi, and rabboni (the highest).
Jesus wants to know why I am weeping. Why am I alone? Why am I depressed? What is causing my confusion?
Jesus enters my heart and gives me courage. I stop the nonsense. I believe and follow Him. Jesus gives me peace. Jesus calms my soul.
What an amazing Master!