Why Are You Crying?John 20:1-18Theme: Rejoice!This week’s lessons teach us that there is both a time to weep and a time to laugh. LessonThe second thing Mary was looking for was a martyr. He was a dead martyr, to be sure – the best martyrs are always dead – but still a martyr. In place of this, God gave Mary a risen Savior.
We know Mary was looking for a martyr because of the way she talked about the nameless persons who had hounded Jesus to death. She uses the word “they” whenever she refers to them. “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him” (v. 2). “They have taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where they have put him” (v. 13). If you had pressed Mary, asking her whom she meant by “they,” she would probably have given a cogent answer. “They” were the religious leaders of the day whose position and prestige Jesus threatened. They had been trying to remove him as a threat for some time. Everyone knew that. If you had pressed Mary, she could have answered along this line and possibly even have given you some names. But what did that matter now? If it hadn’t been these who had conspired against Jesus, it would have been others. When Mary said “they,” all she meant was that Jesus had been unfairly and unjustly treated by others. He had come to harm, and they were the cause. They hated him because he was good, and he had died a martyr’s death because of it.
But Jesus was no martyr! A martyr is one who dies heroically, against great odds, for his beliefs. But Jesus did not die for his beliefs. He died for us. He died in our place. While living he taught what he was going to do. He said, “…The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). When instituting the Lord’s Supper he maintained, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many” (Mark 14:24; cf. Matt. 26:28). He spoke of himself as living bread, saying, “This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51). We are told that as the time for him to be offered drew near, Jesus steadfastly made his way to Jerusalem (Mark 10:32-34), predicting his death and resurrection as he went. Clearly Jesus saw his death, not as the death of a martyr, but as that of the sacrificial lamb slain from before the foundation of the word. His death was no tragedy. It was what he had come to accomplish.
Mary had been looking for a slain hero, but God gave her a risen Savior. Henceforth, she and those who also were drawn to faith were to go into the world, not with a beautiful and touching story, but with a Gospel of salvation from sin. They were to say, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved….” (Acts 16:31).
There was one other thing that Mary was looking for, and strikingly she seemed to be looking for it even after the living Jesus had made himself known to her. It was the old earthly Jesus, a mortal, as she supposed. Instead God gave her a glorified and reigning Lord.
Why did Mary use the pronoun “they” to describe those who had hurt Jesus?
Why was Jesus not a martyr?
How did Jesus view his own death?