“Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.” John 20.11-18
What did Mary see? She who went to the tomb of Jesus early in the morning was the first witness to the resurrection. Jesus had been raised from the dead and Mary was about to see him face to face.
So what did she see? First, she saw the tomb. Large, empty, white Jerusalem limestone with a large rolling stone pushed away from the opening. She was weeping so she saw this through tears. And as she looked she saw her second surprise — two angels sitting where Jesus body had been laid. One of the angels was at the head, the other at the foot. Two angels just hanging out.
Had they been waiting for Mary? Had God thought, “You know what Jesus, I love Mary a lot. I know she’s coming first to the tomb so I am going to send two of my best messengers down to the tomb to sit on the head and foot of the grave stone.” And that’s what happened. Two angels just shooting the breeze in the tomb of God himself.
Thirdly, Mary saw Jesus. After her brief conversation with the angels who were dressed in white, she saw a third man who said, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?’” Mary thought she saw the Gardner but when he spoke next and said, “Mary,” she turned to him and knew instantly who it was, “Rabboni!” she exclaimed.
The fourth and final thing she saw that day were the arms and robes of Jesus wrapped around her. Even Jesus said, “Mary, do not hold on to me,” assuming they embraced with a hug mixed with tears, laughter and joy, but Jesus had work to do. He had not yet gone to his Father. Mary saw what no one else in the world has ever seen, Jesus in his unascended state. After this Mary leaves the tomb, runs to the disciples and proclaims, I have seen the Lord.”
Seeing for Mary was believing. Seeing for Mary opened the doors for salvation, proclamation and excitement. Seeing for Mary led to the return of other disciples who themselves saw and believed.
Have you seen the Lord? Have you proclaimed his goodness? Have you told the world about his love, power and grace? See him. Believe him. Trust him. Know him.
“O Lord God, you are filled with mercy and compassion. I am but a servant of your kingdom, a child of the most high God. Thank you Lord for saving me. Thank you for appearing to Mary so that I might believe through her seeing. I thank you for the revelation of your Word and the faith of your followers. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill us with your power and your love. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen