John 20:1-18 NKJV
20 Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”
3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.
11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”
14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).
17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.
On the night before He laid down His life, Jesus prayed, “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5). How hollow those words must have rung in the ears of Jesus’ disciples as the events of Thursday and Friday unfolded. If ever a prayer seemed to have gone unanswered, this was it. Instead of glory, Jesus received shame and abuse, and a cross, and a tomb.
Mary Magdalene, who had been such a faithful follower of Jesus, wept in despair, unconvinced even by the empty tomb. But then Jesus called her by name, and His word spoke faith into her heart as she beheld the glory of the Risen One in the reality that He who was crucified, dead, and buried now stood before her, alive and breathing. She beheld His glory in the truth of His life.
Seeing the empty tomb simply isn’t enough, for Mary or for us. Seeing the empty tomb wouldn’t cause us to believe in Christ. But He has given us His word, called us to faith, and called us by name in Holy Baptism, and so He has given us the right to be called children of God. Like Mary, we are not allowed to cling to His resurrected body, except in the one way He has given: in the Sacrament of His body and blood. There we are given a veiled glimpse of our ascended Lord in this life. And after this life, we have the promise of sharing in our Brother’s inheritance in our Father’s house forever, if we remain faithful until the end. Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, comfort us, as You once comforted Mary Magdalene, by the assurance of Your glorious resurrection, and help us ever to cling to You in faith until we see You face to face. Amen.