Summary: In front of Mary was a tomb lifeless and foreboding, a scene of death. As she turned around a whole new scene developed around the character of the Gardener.
We live in uncertain times – Droughts, bushfires and now a dreaded pestilence!
• Isn’t it amazing how quickly our priorities change when events like this occur?
• Instead of striving for that new job, that new house, that new car, that new outfit, suddenly simple things like toilet paper takes on new meaning.
• Survival instincts kick in and they now becomes a more important priority as our very lives and way of life are threatened.
• Yet we are privileged to live in the first world with its many benefits while many in the third world live in survival mode for most of their lives.
• However, as we are now experiencing, some things even in the first world are beyond our control.
• There’s a shadow hanging over humanity, not only are there dangers from other humans, but there are dangers lurking within nature.
• Unexpectedly, life takes a turn for the worst, it is uncertain, it can be fragile, and eventually we all end up in that place we would rather not think about.
• As the Psalmist says in Psalm 23 “we do walk through the valley of the shadow of death” not knowing what the future holds for us.
• But reassuringly there is a future guaranteed for us and it all has to do with what happened on that first Easter morning 2000 years ago.
There was a dark shadow hanging over Jerusalem on that Sunday morning
• Momentous events had taken place over the past week.
• The “so called” conquering Messiah who had been welcomed into Jerusalem with great fanfare just a week ago had been captured and crucified like a common criminal.
• That was one thing, but the accompanying earthquake and the unusual darkness that descended on the city was another matter.
• His was no ordinary death.
We pick up the story early on Sunday morning in John 20
• This is the scene in the garden and the tomb where Jesus was laid after His brutal crucifixion.
• The positioning of the characters and the props used in this garden scene are important.
• John 20:11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb
• In front of Mary was the tomb lifeless and foreboding, a scene of death.
• 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
• The positioning of the angels is important as the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament had two angels positioned on either end of the Mercy Seat (Exodus 25:17-25).
• On the most solemn day of the sacred calendar, the Day of Atonement, the blood of the sacrificed goat was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat for the forgiveness of the Israelites sins (Leviticus 16:15-16).
• That Mercy Seat was a throne in the Holy of Holies occupied at the time by the invisible merciful and forgiving God who had led the Israelites out of Egypt.
• This now visible God, Jesus, had just spilt His blood for an atoning sacrifice so God could offer mercy and forgiveness to the whole world.
• Just another of those archetypes or shadows we find revealed in Old Testament scripture nearly a thousand years before it became the reality in Jesus Christ.
• We should not miss the deep symbolism imbedded in this scene.
• 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.”
• Mary of course was overcome with grief over the cruel and vicious events of the crucifixion, but now that the body was gone she could not even say a personal goodbye.
• 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.”
• Now as she turned around in front of her she saw what appeared to be the gardener.
• Behind her was the tomb carrying the stench of darkness and death, now in front of her through a veil of tears, she caught a totally different scent, an other worldly scent carrying the fragrance of the supernatural.
• It was a fragrance that had not been experienced on earth since that fateful day in Eden.
• You will remember access to the Garden of Eden was forbidden after the sin of Adam and Eve.
• Prior to that, humans had communion with the supernatural God.