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. LessonMary had been left behind in the city when Peter and John ran off. Now, having nowhere else to go and not really wanting to go anywhere else, she made her way back to the burial garden. She was crying. No wonder! Just days before she had witnessed the arrest, trial, crucifixion, and death of the one person she loved most in all the world. She was exhausted both emotionally and physically. She had been to the tomb once before following the death. This very morning she had made the journey from her home within the city to the tomb three times: once with the women, once to return and inform the two disciples, and now back to the tomb once more after everyone else had gone. It was too much for her, and even though she was a strong woman, she broke down. The story says, “But Mary stood outside the tomb crying” (John 20:10).
She must have been crying a great deal, so much that the tears clouded her vision. For when she looked into the tomb, as the other women had done earlier, and saw the angels, she did not recognize that they were angels. Nor did she recognize Jesus when in the next moment she saw him. The angels asked, “Woman, why are you crying?”
She said, “They have taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where they have put him.” When she turned away from the tomb, she saw Jesus standing there. She thought he was the gardener.
“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Mary said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus spoke her name: “Mary.” At once she recognized him. Tears fled. Faith and hope revived, and she called out “Rabboni!” which means Master or Teacher. After this her message to the others was simply, “I have seen the Lord!”
“Why are you crying?” We can hardly miss that in this brief story. The question was asked of Mary two times, once by the angels and once by Jesus. Why? It was not because the questioners did not know the answer; they did. Anyone would have known it, and this was certainly true of Jesus, who knows everything. Neither the angels nor Jesus asked the question to tease Mary either, like a person offering a piece of candy to a child but hiding it in one fist held alongside the other: “Which hand is it in?” Rather, it was to clarify her thinking and highlight the contrast between what she was looking and crying for and the far greater blessing that was about to be given her by God.
What was Mary Magdalene looking for? The first answer to that question is that she was looking for a body, a dead body. What God had for her was a living person, the Lord. Study Questions
Why did the angels and Jesus ask Mary why she was crying?
What clouded Mary from recognizing Jesus when she first saw him?
Further StudyIn the following passages study Mary Magdalene’s relationship with Jesus: Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40-41, 16:9-10; Luke 8:1-3. How does the nature of their relationship explain her anxious grief?
ReflectionDo you love Jesus as passionately as Mary Magdalene did?