Summary: Reasons why our weeping can always be turned to joy.
A young couple began attending a midwest church. They had been saved only about 8 months when they announced that they needed prayer; they had experienced several miscarriages and had just discovered they were with child again. The congregation responded. And the young couple had the most prayed for baby in the church.
After the child’s birth, their worst fears came true - their child died only a few hours after birth. Their pastor joined them, as well as their unsaved family members. After a time of sorrow, the attending physician asked if they would like to hold their baby one last time. They said yes. Instead of cursing God, questioning Him, or complaining, they took their child (named Mindy), placed her in the arms of their unsaved parents, and said, "If you don’t trust Christ, you’ll never see Mindy again. We’ll be spending eternity with her in heaven." A miracle happened - In following weeks, her family came to church and responded to the gospel message. Their weeping and sorrow turned to great joy!
Today we’re looking at a woman who learned that sorrow can be turned to joy. Mary Magdalene came to the tomb with the weight of the world and her sorrows bearing her down. Weeping is not a sin – Jesus wept. But our weeping can and should always turn to joy.
Two questions are asked of Mary who is at the empty tomb: First the angels ask: “Woman, why are you WEEPING?” and then Jesus himself asks the same question: “Woman why are you weeping?” The Lord comes to each of you this morning or during your darkest hour and asks the same question: “Why are YOU weeping?” or what is holding your joy back?
1. It’s not as it seems.
When we grieve, when we weep – we very often feel that it’s the end of the world. Your emotions are torn apart – you have been hurt sometimes by someone else, sometimes by yourself, sometimes by a great loss. It can be the loss of an opportunity, or a natural ability (your sight, your health), a job, a friendship, it can be the death of a loved one. The pain is real and the loss is real. We don’t deny that!
Jesus REALLY died – his body was battered and bruised, crushed and even stabbed with a spear. He was 100% dead and buried. And that hurt deeply. It was a travesty of justice. Totally unfair! And so Mary wept for good reason. Mary Magdalene’s life had been turned upside down by this man – this Jesus.
Mary grew up on the shore of the Sea of Galilee – in the town of Magdala. We don’t know what her life was like before she met Jesus except for one thing – she was living in total darkness. The Gospel of Luke tells us that she was filled with seven demons (8:2) and that Jesus delivered her from them all. And then she immediately became one of Jesus’ closest followers and supporters. She and a number of other women helped to provide for Jesus and the disciples as they travelled from village to village (8:3).
We often think of John or Peter as the disciples closest to Jesus. But it was Mary who watched his crucifixion. It was Mary who followed Jesus body to the tomb and sat there as the Romans rolled the stone over the entrance. And it was Mary who was first at the tomb that early Easter morning. She truly loved her Master and losing him was losing everything.
But grief is very often a distortion of reality. The death was real, but the bigger picture is much more important.
You can look outside – earlier this week it was snowing. The snow is real, the cold is real. It’s not fun! And we can so easily jump to conclusions and think its December and the winter is still before us – we’re just skipping summer this year. But what is reality? Its spring and the flowers are ready to bloom! Feelings do not reveal everything!
2. You are not alone
But there is a second reason to rejoice – you are never alone! So Mary wept. Was she alone in her grief? Two angels appear “Why are you weeping?” All of heaven has been celebrating the greatest event in history – the victory of Jesus over death and this woman weeps. WHY? What does she need to do? She needs to see reality – she needs to see the risen Lord Jesus!
“she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away."