Woman, Why are you Weeping?


Easter 2015

Whom Do You Seek?

John 20:1-16

 Mary Magdalene – is asked the same question twice:

vs. 13 by 2 angels: “Woman, why are you weeping?”

Again in vs. 15 by Jesus: “Woman, why are you weeping?”

But Jesus went on and asked her another question: “Whom are you seeking?”

A question which is designed to help her understand her own actions in regard to the first.

10-17 / Sometimes, asking the right question makes all the difference in the world.

In my youth, I was a pizza maker for a few years.

It never failed to amaze me when I would get a phone call and people would ask: “what flavors do you have?”

I could get that if it were and ice cream shop – but not a pizzeria.

Or as I heard one day at the McDonalds drive up – when the woman ahead of me asked – “do you have chocolate milk only, or vanilla too?”

The befuddled worker was not quite sure what to call white milk either, and so said yes, she had vanilla too.

The Bible fails to answer some of the questions we put to it, and instead, steers us toward more important ones.

Ones which yield answers of supreme and eternal importance rather than the ones we sometimes ask.

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 her to think a lot more deeply than the level of her present, consuming emotions.

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 to process it well.

Their question is a good one.

But what they were doing by asking the question – was to bring her sorrow, grief and confusion into an entirely new context.

If, Jesus was who He said He was; if He has risen as He said He would – why indeed was she weeping?

As angels there, serving as witnesses to the resurrection – they could not figure out why she was still weeping. THEY were confused.

But those facts weren’t informing Mary at that moment.

Only the empty tomb was. And to her THAT was confusing.

Then Jesus approaches and speaks.

His question is even more clarifying 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.

Her weeping was appropriate IF, and only if, she was not yet clear on WHOM it was she was seeking.

At this point she was only seeking: Jesus the miracle worker.

Or, Jesus the Friend of sinners.

Certainly the Jesus who cast 7 demons spirits out of her.

And likely too – Jesus the Teacher.

She knew SO much about Him – but did not know Him in the most essential way – So she wept.

She wept because she did not know Jesus as the one appointed to die on the cross, suffering the wrath of God against sin, so that all who put their trust in Him might find forgiveness and cleansing from all sin and guilt.

Because she did not know the Jesus who as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World.

She wept because she did not know Jesus as God incarnate. Very God and very man – Immanuel, God with us.

If she had been seeking THAT Jesus, then she would have known the grave could not hold Him.

She would have expected Him to rise.

If she were seeking the eternal Son of God,

The Lamb of God dying for sinners, in their place,

The promised Messiah,

The 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 the tears she was crying right then were wholly inappropriate.

Her weeping would instead have been a flood of tears of joy – for He had fulfilled all He had said He would

– all that had been prophesied about Him in the Scriptures

– and that in conquering death, which is the judgment levied upon all human sin – He could now deliver all those from death who put their trust in Him and received Him as their substitute,  as Lord and God of their hearts and lives!

Faith would alter the whole reality altogether. This is EXACTLY what she should expect. He is risen – just as He said.

But, 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.

Perhaps you are here in the midst of your own grief today –

Or maybe you just came here today because that’s what Christians do on Easter –

Can I ask you – Whom are you seeking?

Which Jesus are you trusting in?

Are you seeking THIS Jesus?

If He is whom He said He was and proved it all 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.

Mary wept because she did not know Jesus as the resurrected King of Glory – raised to be seated at the right hand of God the Father – to rule and reign until all the kingdoms of this world are put under His feet.

If she had, she would not have been looking for Him in tears, but in expectation and boundless joy!

Perhaps you came here today wrapped in sorrow and grief.

I know that situation well. Just this last Thursday I received the news of the passing of one of my closest friends.

I know how thick and dull my own heart and mind can be when I face such sorrow outside of the context of Who Jesus Christ really is, and what His death and resurrection truly mean – to ALL of life.

Confronted with the facts, even with the appearance of angels themselves – like Mary, still I often look at things only though eyes colored by mere, natural understanding. The supreme and supernatural facts just don’t even seem to faze me.

Do you know Jesus today?

Do you come looking for Him?

Which one?

The miracle worker?

The healer?

The one who raises the dead?

The friend of sinners?

The Teacher?

Yes! But in all of these, still something less that God robed in human flesh?

Something other than the substitutionary sacrifice of God – crucified in our place that we might have forgiveness of all our sins and be reconciled to the God who made us for Himself?

Something other than a Risen Lord with glory and authority over all creation – including you and me and all that pertains to us?

Then I pray your eyes and mine will be opened to fully comprehend who this Jesus is.

And that we will look upon the Risen Christ – who alone in death on the Cross was able to atone for human sin – and make the propitiation – the SATISFACTION to our Holy God that His infinite justice required for our rebellion against His right to rule us –

A satisfaction as the Apostle Paul said in Romans 3:25 which is to be received by faith.

All this – proven, sealed and guaranteed by His resurrection from the dead.

No wonder the hymn writer ended every line of his great hymn with HALLELUJAH! WHAT A SAVIOR!



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