John 20:10–17 (ESV) 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes. 11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 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.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 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.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”
Sometimes, asking the right question makes all the difference in the world. The Bible often does not answer the questions we are asking, but steers us toward more important ones. But in this text, what stands out is the question the risen Jesus poses to dear Mary Magdalene.
In essence, Jesus is asking her to ask herself something of supreme importance.
Here she is, left alone after the departure of Peter and John at the Tomb. She has seen the Tomb is empty. She has seen the angels. She has heard their question with her ears, but her heart is still too heavy. For their question too is a good one. If, Jesus was who He said He was; if He has risen as He said He would – why indeed was she weeping? Those facts weren’t informing her at that moment. Only the empty tomb was.
How thick and dull my own heart and mind can be. Confronted with the facts, even with the appearance of angels themselves – still I look only at things though eyes colored only by natural understanding. The supreme and supernatural facts just don’t even seem to faze me.
But then Jesus approaches and speaks. His question is even more piercing than the angel’s. He asks again “why are you weeping?” But He ups the ante immeasurably with His second question – “WHOM are you seeking?” This is THE question. The one that answers all of the rest.
If she were seeking the eternal Son of God, the Lamb of God for sinners slain, the promised Messiah, second member of the Triune Godhead – God robed in human flesh, prophesied to rise again and rule the cosmos – if she were seeking THAT Jesus, then crying is wholly inappropriate. Faith would alter the whole reality altogether. This is EXACTLY what she should expect. He is risen – just as He said.
But, if she were seeking a mere prophet, a miracle-working but enigmatic figure, one whom she loved but did not really understand, a hope, but only if things went the way she and the others imaged they would – then there could be nothing but disappointment, disillusionment, and confused sorrow.
So, in the midst of your grief today – which Jesus are you trusting in? And if He is whom He said He was and proved by His resurrection – then why are we so downhearted, disappointed, faint, weary, troubled and dismayed? Maybe, we’re not sure just whom it is we seek either.