Honestly, I don’t know how anyone can read John’s gospel and think that it’s anything but a first hand account of what Jesus said and did. It’s just too detailed, too intimate, too personal.
Jesus’ dealings with Mary (his mother) and John at the Cross (which I discussed yesterday) reveal an intimate and caring encounter, where a dying, suffering Lord looks out for those He loves.
Jesus shows deep care and special attention to two more people in today’s readings: Mary Magdalene and Thomas. And of course, John spares no detail about the discovery of the empty tomb that he and Peter both experienced.
What I love about this version of the empty tomb account was how Jesus treated Mary. He could have revealed Himself to Peter and John, but Jesus chose to reveal His glorified self first to a woman, and to Mary Magdalene.* WHAT AN HONOR!!
Peter and John leave the empty tomb, but Mary remains. Listen in your mind to the details that John imparts as you read:
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” John 20: 11-15 NIV
Apparently Mary did not quite recognize the Lord who just days before she saw beaten, bloodied, dead.
I love how Jesus let her know who He was. It’s so personal. So intimate.
Jesus knew exactly how Mary would recognize Him.
He called her by name!
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” vs. 16-17
Names were so important in the Jewish culture. Jesus changed peoples’ names when he changed their identities. If someone knew your name, they knew you.
And Jesus knew Mary.
His voice alone wasn’t enough. But his voice calling her name, knowing her, was enough.
When Jesus called her name, Mary knew that He was Jesus and that He was alive!
Her response? She must have thrown herself to his feet, grabbing his ankles.
Because he encourages her to let go and to share the wonderful news that SHE ALONE knew. Not the apostles. Not the men.
It brings me to tears.
And Jesus knows me, too. He knows my name. And He knows exactly how to reveal Himself to me.
Jesus also knew Thomas. And He went out of the way to reveal Himself to Thomas, to assure Thomas that He was alive. Jesus walks through the wall into the room with the disciples and the first person He addresses is Thomas.
I won’t tell the rest of the beautiful story now (you can read the here), but it surely doesn’t reveal Thomas as a man of doubts, but as a man who needed Jesus to reveal Himself, just as we all do.
We can’t know Jesus without His help.
Oh, Lord: Please let me hear You call my name. Please do what only You can do – reveal Yourself more deeply to me. Reveal Yourself in such a way that I respond by becoming spiritually prostrate, shocked and humbled and thrilled that You indeed know and love me. Amen.
*Pope Gregory in the 6th century posited that Mary Magdalene was the sinful woman in Luke 7 who perfumed Jesus’ feet. But one cannot definitively conclude that the sinful woman was a prostitute and certainly no proof she was Mary Magadalene (though Martha’s sister Mary likewise perfumed Jesus’ feet). We do know that Jesus cast out 7 demons from Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2), giving her ample reason to feel both undeserving and blessed.
Today’s Readings: 2 Kings 14:1-29, Psalm 73:15-20, Proverbs 18:18-19, John 20:1-31. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts. Your daily blogger, Holiday Longing (Reproduce with permission only).