A Post for the Ones Who Aren’t Feeling the Joy
Here we are at the end of Easter Sunday. Maybe today has been a joyful day of celebration for you. Maybe you sang “Because He Lives” and “He Arose” and “Glorious Day,” and you felt true joy and hope. You felt each word of all the hymns deep in your glad soul.
But maybe today has been another sad day in a year filled with sad, lonely days. Maybe you want to feel the wonder and hope and elation of Easter, but you just don’t. You want to believe every word of the Gospel, but you’re struggling. You want to believe Jesus is alive, but you’re still feeling immense grief and you’re confused by the empty tomb.
That was Mary Magdalene. At the earliest dawn, Mary went to the tomb to finish the job she’d begun two days earlier. And when she found the empty tomb, she was so confused. So filled with absolute sorrow. Could her heart break any more? She’d watched her teacher and friend beaten and mocked and tortured and hung on a cross. She’d watched Jesus die. And now, someone had stolen his body. It had gone from bad to worse. So Mary wept. Helpless and hopeless, Mary wept.
She hadn’t understood everything Jesus had taught. She didn’t understand the Resurrection. All she knew was that Jesus was gone. The earth had shattered – quaking and breaking as the sun was eclipsed and darkness filled the day. And now, the earth had shaken again, and Jesus was gone. Hope was lost. Nothing made sense. All she could do was weep.
Then the gardener asked Mary why she was weeping. This man must have looked poor, of a low social status – for Mary to assume he was the gardener. “Why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” This stranger asked her.
“If you’ve taken him away, please tell me where you laid his body,” she pleaded. She just wanted Jesus. She just wanted to finish honoring his body. She just wanted Jesus.
And then he said her name. This gardener who wasn’t a gardener. This God who again appeared in humble, lowly human form. Jesus said her name. “Mary.”
How many times had Jesus called her by name? Jesus said her name differently than anyone else. Nobody else had ever said her name with such love and beauty. And when his voice spoke her name, Mary immediately recognized Jesus.
Jesus had said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) Jesus knew Mary. He called her by name, and she recognized his voice.
At the sound of her name on Jesus’ lips, Mary’s weeping stopped. All hope returned. Full joy sprang to life.
I’m guessing Mary still didn’t comprehend the intricacies of the Resurrection. She still didn’t know details about what the future held. But Jesus was there, and he spoke her name. Jesus knew her and loved her still. Jesus called her by name, and she knew his voice.
Friends, if you’re looking upon emptiness today and feeling confused or hopeless or completely bereft, I pray that you hear Jesus’ tender voice calling your name. He knows you. He loves you. He’s saying your name with the purest love and beauty.
Dear one, you are seen and known and loved by the One who has defeated death. You don’t have to understand everything. You can doubt and be afraid and confused. You can be angry and grief-filled and absolutely disheartened. You can weep. Just listen for his voice saying your name and find some comfort and love in that today. Jesus knows your name and calls out to you with love.