Easter Sermon by Pastor Brian
Inside the funeral parlor, air thick with the pungent smell of formaldehyde, the mourners stand single file to offer their condolences. Some readjust their ill-fitting suits; others reposition their fishnet veils, and most check their watches. Until they reach the ravaged loved ones left behind standing in front of the polished casket. Inevitably, someone pays their respect by saying, “If there’s anything I can do, please, just ask.”
No one was waiting to console Mary Magdalene on that terrible Sunday morning. She arrived alone, clinging to the darkness because grief doesn’t fully express in the light. Without a task list- no monogrammed shroud to embroider, no obituary in the Jerusalem Times to write, no granite headstone to carve- she simply came for proximity. If she couldn’t be with him, his body then.
But the body snatchers must have raided the tomb minutes before. When she leaned in, Mary found only folded linens, inquiring angels, and a burst of tears. Blurry-eyed, she searched for a tissue as the gardener pushed his squeaky wheel barrel out back. Composing herself for a confrontation, she said, “You in the coveralls, where is he? Take me, now. After the torture the Romans inflicted, he deserves a peaceful burial.”
Knowing resurrection initially gets overlooked, Jesus bypasses the conflict, instead saying, “Mary!” Gobsmacked, slack-jawed, thunderstruck, stupefied, beyond comprehension, Mary, after hearing her name, recognized her Lord. In this text of death and life after death, what does Magdalene teach us about Easter?
John 20:11-18 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” 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 Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.