Lent Devotional Day 44

Day 44
Thursday, April 6

John 20:1-18

20 Early in the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him.” 3 Peter and the other disciple left to go to the tomb. 4 They were running together, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and was the first to arrive at the tomb. 5 Bending down to take a look, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he didn’t go in. 6 Following him, Simon Peter entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there. 7 He also saw the face cloth that had been on Jesus’ head. It wasn’t with the other clothes but was folded up in its own place. 8 Then the other disciple, the one who arrived at the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 They didn’t yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to the place where they were staying.

Jesus appears to Mary

11 Mary stood outside near the tomb, crying. As she cried, she bent down to look into the tomb. 12 She saw two angels dressed in white, seated where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and one at the foot. 13 The angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

She replied, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put him.” 14 As soon as she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus.

15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabbouni” (which means Teacher).

17 Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Then she told them what he said to her.

This passage has always made me laugh, for a few reasons. First, we have Simon Peter racing another disciple (presumably John, “the one whom Jesus loved,” who is writing the gospel) to the tomb – and we are told explicitly that the other disciple got there first. And then, in case you already forgot, we are reminded yet again that John won the race when he goes into the tomb. What a funny detail to add to this seemingly very important passage where the disciples first see evidence that Jesus has risen!

Then we have the scene with Mary, where she begins to cry thinking someone has taken Jesus’ body. First, Jesus asks, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” as if he doesn’t already know! How funny is that, the risen Christ standing there asking “Who are you looking for?” like an innocent passerby with no clue what she could possibly be doing at the tomb. Jesus is in the aftermath of the greatest triumph of all time, fully resurrected and alive on this beautiful morning – I’d imagine he’s in a pretty good mood. What could be funnier than the God of the universe standing there going, “Oh hey! Looking for someone?” to one of his beloved followers. You can almost imagine the smile on his face, the amused gleam in his eyes as he asks. But in her grief, Mary doesn’t even realize it’s him. She assumes he’s just the gardener and asks if he knows where they took Jesus’ body. Oh, to have heard the sound of Jesus’ voice when he simply said, “Mary.” You have to picture an amused smile on his face – “Helloooooo, Mary, it’s literally me! I’m standing right here!”

It reminds me of the passage from Luke 24 where Jesus meets the disciples on the Emmaus Road and hides his identity from them. How playful, for the risen Lord to act like he has no idea what’s going on, pretending to be someone else. I was going to write this devotional about how sometimes the things that don’t seem like Jesus turn out to be something he has orchestrated, just like how Mary didn’t see Jesus until he called her directly by name. But I think it’s important to acknowledge the playfulness of this passage and to remember that we have a God who created humor, laughter, and irony. Sometimes we can get distracted by the more pious, serious side of “religion” and forget that God does have a sense of humor. There are plenty of very playful moments in the gospels like this one, and the fact that these moments were purposefully left in the scriptures for us says a lot about the God we serve and their capacity for joy and humor.

By Parker Patton

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