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An Intimate Whisper in our Grief
by Cynthia Bowen
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John 20:11-16 Amplified
11But Mary remained standing outside the tomb sobbing. As she wept, she stooped down [and looked] into the tomb.
12And she saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13And they said to her, Woman, why are you sobbing? She told them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.
14On saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing [there], but she did not know (recognize) that it was Jesus.
15Jesus said to her, Woman, why are you crying [so]? For Whom are you looking? Supposing that it was the gardener, she replied, Sir, if you carried Him away from here, tell me where you have put Him and I will take Him away.
16Jesus said to her, Mary! Turning around she said to Him in Hebrew, Rabboni!--which means Teacher or Master.

Mary visited the tomb early and found it empty. She quickly reported to Peter and John, jumping to the worst possible conclusion.
(v2...they have taken away the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.)

Her heart was broken because Jesus had been crucified. She had watched as Jesus had raised her own brother Lazarus from a four day old tomb mere weeks ago. She remembered His declaration that He Himself was the Resurrection and the Life. However, at that moment, the sight of His broken body nailed on a crucifix was all she could grasp. All her experience and everything she knew in life told her that Jesus had been killed and his dead body should be lying in that now empty tomb. This was such a certainty to Mary that she had brought embalming spices with her to Jesus' burial site according to Luke. But the tomb was vacant and her world had been shaken.

John and Peter looked at the bare tomb and discarded graveclothes, turned around, and went back to the gathered disciples. Mary stayed behind...weeping, her faith too frail and shattered to see the Truth before her. She looked behind her into the grave and saw two angels. When they asked why she weeped, Mary didn't even bat an eye. She just repeated her lament
(v13) ...they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.

Don't you suppose those angels had to shake their heads at that? Usually, angelic visitation gets a different response. Possible even Jesus Himself had to smile. Here was Mary, part of the family that Jesus loved (Jn 11), and she had just missed out on angelic interaction because of her grief. I suspect He realized that she needed a little extra assurance. He did not want her to stay in this place of pain. The compassionate Savior came and stood before her, revealing Himself to her even before any of the other disciples. Jesus repeated the angel's question, "Why are you crying? Who are you looking for?" Mary assumed He was the gardener, and offered to take away His dead body if only He would tell where He had laid it.

Jesus then says the most lovely thing He could have uttered; He said her name. He did not lay out a new commandment or drop off a new prophetic word. He simply says, "Mary!" I imagine that His voice was rich and deep with love for this broken little woman crying before Him.

I think He was saying so much more with that one uttered word than whole chapters worth of instruction and commandments. By saying her name, Jesus was saying, "Mary, I see you here at the garden tomb, broken and sorrowful. I know who you are. I understand you and your great love even though you are alone. I know everything." I also believe He was telling Mary, "Look at Me, Mary. Look at Me; see Me alive and risen. Quit looking at that tomb. Stop looking three days backwards and look toward Me."

Thankfully, Jesus hasn't changed and is still as compassionate to us. When we are sorrowful and broken by the hard things in our lives, He comes and stands before us as we weep. He seldom comes with the radiant glory that belongs to Him. He comes as an intimate friend and speaks our name. No new revelation or grand prophecy is revealed. His gentle whisper rises in our spirits as Jesus speaks, "Beloved."

In that moment, we know like Mary did, that Jesus is alive and well. He knows us and loves us deeply and intimately. He sees us broken and alone. He doesn't chide us for the smallness of our faith. He just calls our name. He knows all about our sorrow and understands completely. He speaks to us, as He did to fragile Mary, "Quit looking at the dead places trying to find life and joy in improbable locations. The things of this world are temporal, and poor containers for happiness. Quit looking backwards at the hopes and dreams that have fallen behind you. Don't assume that yesterday's blessings and happiness are greater than what lies ahead of you. Look and see that I am alive and more than enough to meet your needs."

We don't need a new word. We don't need a spectacular show. We just need to recognize Him for Who He is--the risen Savior.
{All that is behind you is gone, all that is before you is Me.........}

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