The Personal Nature of the Resurrection
Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). (John 20:16 ESV) He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia! Today at International Lutheran Church, we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and the reminder that sin and death could not hold Him. This is shockingly good news – too good to be true. But it is also very personal good news for with Jesus’ resurrection comes the most wondrous gift of all – our new identity in Him who lives!
Many odd and not so normal things are happening in John’s gospel account on that early morning so long ago. Like we have seen before, John’s gospel takes us on a very personal journey into the heart of the resurrection. Like Nicodemus, the woman at Jacob’s well, the man born blind or Lazarus, John specifically narrows in on Mary’s account of her experience of the resurrection of Jesus. This is a very personal testimony of faith that John tells as Mary Magdalene sees the Lord. Mary, in fact, was a common name. A derivative of Miriam, Moses’ sister, many woman shared this name of faith. In fact, at the tomb there were at least three women named Mary. But John wants us to hear how this Mary, this Mary who experienced the deliverance from seven demons (Mark 16:2; Luke 8:2) experienced the news of Jesus’ resurrection.
We begin with her testimony to Peter and John that her early morning trip to the tomb (likely along with the other women) resulted in seeing the tomb was open and empty. She returns a second time and engages the angels sitting where Jesus’ body had been only three days earlier. While she is simultaneously weeping and talking, she sees Jesus but does not recognize Him.
“They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned and said to him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher).” (John 20:13-16 ESV) What moves Mary from tears of sorrow and despair to tears of joy and exaltation is the simple but profound call of her name. Jesus says to her… “Mary!” Just her name. Yet in just this simple expression all of God’s promises come true for her and for you and me. Jesus’ resurrection is a personal experience. It comes not as a mysterious fact but as a personal revelation of not only who Jesus is, but now who you and I are in Him. Mary’s response, “Rabboni!” is also personal in nature. Not only are we personally known to Him, but now He is personally known by us.
We observe this truth again today at International Lutheran Church, as we witness the Baptism of four children of God and hear the testimony of one of our young adults. Jesus’ death and resurrection is a living call and claim on each of our lives. Jesus sees us – you and me. He knows us even more than we know ourselves. In Him, you and I now know His grace and mercy, His forgiveness and love. He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!