November 21, 2020
John 20:15-18 (NIV)
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.”
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.’”
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
She thought he was the gardener.
And perhaps in the biggest sense, he was. Remember the beginning of John’s Gospel? “In the beginning was the Word. . .” The world began in a garden. Did it ever occur to you that the resurrection of Jesus happened in a garden? This is no accident.
It is as though this first day of the week is the first day of the new creation. The Gardener is in his garden.
Like I said yesterday, Easter is a slow-rising reality. Have we reduced it to a doctrinal declaration or is the reality still rising?
Mary’s first communication to the disciples was concerning the empty tomb. Jesus was gone. Her next message to them was quite different:
“I have seen the Lord!”
This, my friends, is eyewitness testimony—direct evidence. And it won’t be the last. If they had wanted to bolster the story they would have made Peter the star witness. Problem is, he wasn’t. John simply told us the truth. He gives us an unlikely witness to an unbelievable event, and in the most interesting way she becomes the most credible character on the planet.
If anyone wants to challenge the veracity and legitimacy of women serving at both the highest and lowest levels in the kingdom of God, they will have to deal with Mary. Okay, even better, they will have to deal with Jesus. Full stop.
Mary . . . the surprise witness . . . the apostles’ apostle.
Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who with you created the whole world by speaking words and who is himself the Word made flesh. Thank you that by his death you planted the new creation and by his resurrection you brought it forth from the ground. Shake me from my slumber and awaken me to the fullness of the new creation. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
1. What do you think of Mary mistaking Jesus for the gardener?
2. Do you believe Mary’s direct eyewitness testimony about her seeing Jesus? What is the significance of Mary being a woman in this instance?
3. What would it mean to be awakened to the resurrection as more than a single event in history, but as the redefining of everything past and going forward?
For the Awakening,