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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, April 27, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | John 20:1–18

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 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.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” 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 Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because 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.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. (NRSV)

I am sure that we have all dealt with the death of a loved one, be it a family member or close friend, and we can recall the whirlwind of emotions that come with that experience. We feel sadness, anxiety, anger, loneliness, exhaustion—just to name a few. I can only imagine what emotions Mary Magdalene and the disciples were feeling early on that Sunday morning, having witnessed Jesus’ death on the cross just a few days earlier. Let us also think about what Mary Magdalene must have experienced when she first encountered the empty tomb: I would guess a good dose of panic and fear to start with!

My favorite part of this passage comes when Mary Magdalene notices the man standing behind her. She assumes this person is the gardener and does not realize that it is Jesus until he calls her name. I wonder how often this same experience happens to us: we encounter a person in our life at a particular time, and we assume it’s just an ordinary person. Has God put that person there in our life? Has God put us in someone else’s life? I tend to be pretty dense and don’t realize someone or something was a “God moment” until long after the fact. Hindsight is 20/20, right? My guess is we can all relate to Mary Magdalene in this way.

Jesus calls our name, just as he called Mary Magdalene’s name. May we be aware and open to encounter God through others this day and in the week ahead.

Loving and gracious God, I am so humbled and grateful that you call me by name. Help me to feel your presence and find you in others today and throughout the week. Amen.

Written by Briana Belding-Peck, Family Ministry Coordinator         

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