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Summary: In the most difficult times, the risen Jesus is there for you.

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Mary is at the entrance of the tomb. She stands in the doorway between the place of the living and the dead. She has been there before – no doubt following the two men who had laid his body there on the Friday.

She had come close enough this morning to know that the grave had been disturbed, the sealing stone had been rolled away, and she had run to tell the men. They had come and gone. Now it was just her. Standing in a place between the living and the dead.

She moves closer in and looks for herself at the place where Jesus had been laid, and she sees two ‘angels in white” sitting on the slab that had been his resting place – one at the head and one at the foot.

As I read this encounter again I saw something that I had never seen before. Mary was asked a question twice by two different people. “Woman, why are you crying?”

It sounds like a stupid question at first. Surely she is crying because she is devastated!...

• Good Friday – watching Jesus die / hasty burial – no time to anoint properly – just a quick anointing by the men (Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea).

• Saturday a living nightmare – all the talk of the time at worship would have been about Jesus’ death and the loss of hope for so many. There was much weeping.

• Bad sleeps – probably had wept constantly in a living nightmare of pain.

• Empty grave – the men came and looked and left and couldn’t make it better and now two new ‘people’ in the tomb who ask a stupid question…

{13} They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?"

She answers with the very essence of what is happening for her right then and there…

"They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don’t know where they have put him."

How awful is that scenario? On top of all the terrible things that have happened – now there is one more. A grave-robbery. As if poor Jesus hasn’t been through enough already! Can’t they leave him alone even in death?

{14} At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. {15} "Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?"

Jesus is right there. She doesn’t yet know who he is – but he is right there. And he has been there (without her being aware of his presence) at least long enough to hear her conversation with the angels. He has been there long enough to hear their question, and he has waited for her to turn to him. How do we know that? Because he repeats the words he heard the angels say…

“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying?” then adds “Who is it you are looking for? ”

I find that incredibly comforting.

Here she is devastated, weeping and heartbroken. She has all the hope knocked out of her and has nothing left but questions. And she doesn’t know it yet, but her Lord Jesus is risen and standing right there behind her... aware of her pain, aware of her grief and hopelessness, hearing her words of sadness or bitterness – just waiting for her to turn to him, so he can ask her what is at the depth of her grief.

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).

And here she was with her living Jesus. It doesn’t say in Scripture what happens next but we can assume that she has thrown herself at him and is holding him like she will never let him go.

To me this is a powerfully important passage of Scripture. Not just because it is a resurrection account – but because it tells me something that I need to know.

Whenever we are at the end of our rope. When things are just devastatingly difficult and we don’t know who to turn to or how to cope. When everything looks dead and hopeless, the risen Jesus is there – right behind us.

When we can’t see the light of a new day because we have eyes fixed in the darkness of a tomb, the risen Jesus is there – right behind us.

When our eyes are stained with tears of grief and bitterness, and when our mind is flooded with confusion and anger, the risen Jesus is there – right behind us.

Ready to reach out to us with his resurrection life.

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