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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Easter Sunday HE IS RISEN JUST AS HE SAID John 20:1-18

Woman, why are you weeping?

John 20:1-18

“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him”

“He is Risen! He is Risen Just as He said!”
“I have seen the Lord!”
“I’ve seen him! I’ve seen him! He said my name!”

After you, John, and you, Peter, left the tomb, I stayed. I couldn’t leave. I stood outside in the garden weeping. I bent over, and I looked into the tomb. I saw two men inside. But now I think they must have been angels. They said to me, “Woman, why are you weeping?” I wanted to scream, to shout, to throw something at them. How could they not know? I said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” After I finished speaking, I turned around. I saw a man standing there. He seemed to have come from nowhere, but I thought he must be the gardener. He asked me the same thing the others asked, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”
I wondered why everyone kept asking me this. I said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Then he said, “Mary.” He might as well have said, “SURPRISE! It’s me!” It was him! I said “Teacher!” His face shone like the sun. He looked the same, yet different. I didn’t recognize him because I wasn’t looking for him. But when he said my name, I knew him. My heart knew him. Oh, my brothers, you shouldn’t have left the tomb so fast. I think you would have seen him too.
Oh, I’ve got to go tell some others. Can you believe it? Jesus is alive!
Oh, hello. Did you know Jesus is risen from the dead? You don’t know me? It’s more important that you know Jesus, but I will tell you how I know him. I will tell you what he did for me.
I’m from Magdala. Magdala means tower. It is found on the western shore of the sea of Galilee. It’s on a main highway, and like most towns on main highways, it’s a place where lots of evil happens. I lived there all of my life. I was like most citizens of Magdala, I guess. We’re not known for our morals. I lived a life that I’m quite ashamed of now. By the time I met Jesus, I had seven demons tormenting me. They controlled my life, and I was quite sick both in mind and body. HE IS RISEN
I remember when I first heard of Jesus. Someone came running into town one day and claimed they had met the Messiah. The Messiah! We had hoped for the Messiah so long we had almost given up on him. The man said he had seen Jesus cast demons out of people. I couldn’t quite comprehend why, but I knew I had to find this man Jesus.
I left everything then. I went searching for him. He wasn’t too hard to find at that time. Openly he healed and preached and everyone in the countryside knew of him. Even the scribes, sadduccess, and pharisees. But they didn’t like him.
I remember the day I first saw him. He taught in the midst of a circle of men I knew later to be his twelve disciples. I walked right up to the group, but when I got close enough for them to see me, I couldn’t say anything. I had been taught all of my life that women don’t speak to men in public, esp. important teachers. I just hung my head and tears fell from my face to the ground to mingle with the dust.
He read my mind. I heard him speak to the demons within me. After a struggle all seven of them left me. They had no power to resist this man of God. I fell on the ground. The next thing I remember, I was close to a flickering fire. The firelight shone in his eyes as I looked into them. I had never seen such love. Certainly no man I had ever been near had ever looked at me with love. I knew I could never leave him. I had to find out where that kind of love came from. HE IS RISEN
So I joined the group of women who traveled with Jesus and his disciples. We worked, sewing, weaving, washing for others. We used the money we earned to provide for Jesus.
Soon after I joined Jesus, the Pharisees accused Jesus of having a demon. I wanted to scratch their eyes out. How could this man have a demon? Obviously they didn’t know demons as I did. Jesus stood up to them. He always did. I had never trusted anyone until I met him. I trusted him completely.
Once Jesus mother and brothers came to see him. They could not get to him. I had met his mother before. She came to see him often. But this time Jesus said “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word and do it.” I knew then that I had finally found the family I had never had. James, John, even Peter they now talked to me, following the example of Jesus. Those who didn’t know us often showed the shock on their faces as they heard these men have conversations with us women. Jesus broke down barriers we had never thought to touch. He showed me that I am a valued person, someone worthy of love and care. HE IS RISEN
Jesus treated everyone with the same love and respect. He touched lepers as if they were his close friends or family. He talked to tax collectors as if they hadn’t even tried to rob him. He healed women without a thought that he might be considered unclean. He taught with authority. Everyone had to listen. They just had to. I never even considered going back to Magdala once joining his followers.
After a while, Jesus began to talk of death. His own death. We didn’t listen. We couldn’t understand how the Messiah could be killed. He had too much power. Hadn’t we seen with our own eyes what he could do? Sometimes after he had gone away to pray he would come back with tears and such a sad face. I wanted to comfort him, but I knew I couldn’t. Nothing could. HE IS RISEN
Now that I’ve seen what happened I understand his anguish. I was there as they brought him to trial, as the crowds cried crucify him. I heard the whips lash his precious back. Each time I felt the pain as if it were hitting me. As he stumbled under the heavy beam, I tried to get close to him, to touch him, to let him know I hadn’t left him. The soldiers threw me to the ground. I stood in the crowd as they pounded the nails into his hands and feet. Mary, the wife of Clopas, and I tried to shield his mother, Mary, from the scene. She wailed and couldn’t be comforted.
I don’t know how to describe to you the anguish we felt. We followed Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus to the tomb, to prepare his body with spices. But we didn’t have much time since it was the Sabbath. That Sabbath was the longest day of our lives. We stayed together, the disciples keeping a low profile in fear they too would be crucified. I didn’t care. I would have taken his place. But I stayed near my friends. We didn’t have many words of comfort to say to each other. Mostly we just cried. HE IS RISEN!
We never slept. When finally the first day dawned, the Sabbath over, I could stay in hiding no longer. I went back to the tomb. Maybe just being near his body would bring comfort, and we had to wrap the body better and add the burial spices. Darkness still filled the air. I could barely see. The sun had just barely reached the horizon when I reached the tomb. The stone had been removed. I knew someone had taken his body so I ran to tell the others. Peter and John ran back with me. They ran into the tomb and saw the grave clothes lying there. They didn’t say much, but ran home. I couldn’t leave. Maybe they would bring his body back.
But as I already told you, I found Jesus there that day, or rather he found me.

I wish I could explain to you the excitement, the joy. But you have all lost people you love. Remember Lazarus? How Jesus raised him? Imagine that, but 100 times better! Jesus took our dashed hopes of all that we had believed and made them anew. Renewed. His death devastated us, but his resurrection restores us. I just saw the risen Lord this morning. Now I’m ready to face anything the world has to throw at me. Nothing else matters. Just that he’s alive. HE IS RISEN!

What difference does the resurrection make in your life? It took Jesus saying my name for me to believe that he had risen. And he had told me about it hundreds of times. What will it take for you to believe today? John said he’s going to write all this down so no one forgets. He said he would write everything down so that others will believe in Jesus. I believe. Do you? HE IS RISEN!

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