Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). (John 20:15-16)
July 22 is the date the Church has set aside to give thanks to God for the witness of Mary Magdalene. Today’s sermon may have focused on Mary or this text from John 20. Mary was a devoted disciple of Jesus and followed Him all the way to the cross. She was there as a witness at His crucifixion (John 19:25).
After Jesus rose from the dead, the first person He appeared to was Mary Magdalene. On Easter Sunday, He also appeared to the disciples on the road to Emmaus and then the ten disciples in the upper room. This scene with Jesus and Mary in the garden is especially poignant. When Jesus appears to her, it is not in His power and glory and might, but gently and lovingly. He simply speaks her name and she recognizes her Lord.
Jesus continues to come to us in the same way. He does not come with power, glory and might, but humbly and gently. He comes to us in the means of grace: Holy Baptism, Holy Gospel and Holy Supper. Here Jesus speaks your name. In Holy Baptism, Jesus says, “You are mine. You belong to Me as a member of My family.” With His Holy Gospel, Jesus says, “I died for you. Your sins are forgiven.” In the Holy Supper, Jesus says, “This is My Body, this is My Blood given and shed for you for your forgiveness and life.” What a tremendous blessing! Jesus knows your name and speaks it lovingly and caringly to you.
After Jesus left her, Mary went to tell the other disciples that she had seen Jesus. This is a wonderful example for all of us. You have seen and heard Jesus, why would you not want to tell other people all about Him? They may not believe you. They may think that you are crazy, if you tell them that someone who died has come back to life. And yet Jesus used the witness of Mary and the rest of the disciples to spread the word and create faith in many more believers.
As we remember and give thanks for Mary, we first thank Jesus for His resurrection and for coming to us in kind, loving ways. We also remember Mary’s example of witness and pray that we, too, would have courage and faith to spread the good news of the resurrection.
We sing Your praise for Mary. who came at Easter dawn, To look for Jesus’ body and found her Lord was gone. But, as with joy she saw Him in resurrection light, May we by faith behold Him, the Day who ends our night. Amen.