Easter entails standing alongside one of Jesus’ dearest friends and followers, Mary Magdalene, as the surprise of his resurrection has still not sunk in, and we hear Jesus’ words to her: “Woman…whom are you looking for?”
The story is familiar. So familiar that we hardly hear it. But sandwiched in-between the family reunions, the Easter baskets, the egg hunts, and the Sunday morning brunches is a story of a confused woman looking for a dead body…and that’s where we find the true meaning of Easter Sunday. Mary’s grief and distraction in John 20 appear almost as much a product of the unexpected disappearance of Jesus’ earthly remains as they are the loss of her beloved Teacher. It isn’t until the crucified yet risen Jesus asks the question “Whom are you looking for?” that Mary comes to Life. It isn’t until the living Jesus who has died calls Mary by name (remember the promise? “The sheep hear [the voice of the Gatekeeper] and He calls them by name…” John 10:3) that she finds herself not at a reburial but a glorious encounter with the King. And there is hardly time for her to regain her composure. Scarcely a moment after her tears have dried Jesus sends her on a mission of peace to those He now calls His own brothers and sisters (10:17). Easter may be a familiar tale but it is all about an event that changes everything. Easter changes “the rules” regarding life and death. Nothing will ever be the same again.
Whom are you looking for? It might seem that the answer is obvious. It might seem that the main point of life is to keep death at bay. To collect as many things as possible. To get the best job or the perfect marriage. To outsmart the terrorists. To hold your loved ones as tight as you can before you have to give them up. It might even seem, at times, that it’s God’s job to help you accomplish all that. But could it be that the Jesus God has in store for you is bigger than your imagination dare even expect? Could it be that the Jesus God has in store for you has a new game plan for Life?