I have seen the Lord! So sang a heart simply bursting with happiness, that First Resurrection morning! Let us refresh our minds with the picture.
I think the first fact that reaches home to our hearts in this 20th chapter of St. John’s Gospel, is that Peter, the one who had denied his Lord, the one who had wept bitterly in those last hours before Jesus died, was with John, the beloved disciple, and Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Jesus had given his mother over to John’s care, you remember – so we naturally suppose that she is with John. Somehow just to know then that Peter is with them, gladdens our hearts – he found love and comfort and sympathy with these two who were so near to Jesus.
Into this picture then comes the hastening figure of Mary Magdalene. With haste – yes – because she had been to the sepulcher as the lengthening fingers of early dawning light reached up into the sky, pushing back the darkness of night. Here in the garden she had made an astounding discovery and had braved alone the mighty impact of truth in an empty mocking tomb. The stone was rolled away – and Jesus was gone! Rolled away – yes – not to let Jesus out, but to let the world look in! He was gone! That was to Mary the awful fact that struck horror to her heart. Thus, she fled into the city to these dear friends to announce, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him.”
We can picture John and Peter running to the sepulcher. John outran Peter, probably because he was the taller, lither one of the two. They both ran together. John LOOKED in, portraying that quiet, steady nature of his, while Peter RUSHED in. No doubt Peter’s impetuousness inspired John to move closer and to stoop and look in, and then hesitatingly to enter also. (The steady quiet natures and the impulsive temperaments all have their place in God’s program today. We cannot make folk over in the way we think they should be; it takes every kind to make the world, and God has a place for each if they but come to Him, that He may use them.) With keen, critical, careful eyes they witnessed evidence that Jesus was indeed gone. They knew not the Scripture that He must rise again from the dead. The tenth verse of this chapter always fills me with amazement. “Then the disciples went away again to their own home.” Imagine it! To KNOW that Jesus was gone – to see evidence in the tomb, and to turn away and go home!
God has blessing for those who persist. We learn that from Mary as we see her lingering at the sepulcher. She stood, sobbing. What if Mary had just stood without the tomb weeping? Hers was not just a blind unreasonable grief. She not only wept, but she stooped to investigate. That investigation, thru’ eyes brimful of tears, gained for her the ministry of angels. How her heart must have leaped in her breast as she beheld those two angelic beings, one at either end of the place where Jesus had lain! “Woman, why weepest thou?” Even fear of angelic beings could not hold back that “because” as it burst from her lips. She had a reason. “They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.” Then, hearing a sound behind her, she turned about and she saw Jesus standing, and yet knew not that it was He. “Woman, why weepest thou?” The same question again – but He adds, “Whom seekest thou?” He would try her, before He would tell her. She answers not the stranger’s question, but comes straight to the point, “Sir, if you have borne him hence …” Borne whom? She says not, but. .”Tell me.” His attributes are such that He would not disappoint Mary, nor yet you and me, if from the heart we make the same appeal, “Tell me.” “I will take him away.” – this little woman saying this! She loved her Lord. Her love was in every word of utterance. And then it came! “Mary”.
How her heart must have swelled within her breast as she heard her name! She KNEW that voice, and she classified herself in her response: Rabboni” (Teacher). She had listened to that voice often – ‘He spake as never man spake’ was what was reported of Him. What then, must have been the immediate result of the personal accent He placed upon her name … “Mary”. At last she had found Him. She was satisfied. How much He had done for her! She had been an outcast among the people; one that the world scorned. Jesus had cast seven devils out of her, and we, in our mind’s eye can almost see her as she stands before Jesus in all her worldly finery, and see those demons, one by one come up around her to torment her – pride, lust, jealousy, greed, adultery and all the rest of them. How they held her! Yet, under the eyes of Jesus, they had no choice but to come out when He spoke the word. Mary Magdalene became a new woman, clothed in humility before the eyes of Jesus. Ashamed she was, before Him, but He in His loving kindness put out His hand to her and said unto her, “Daughter, sin no more.”
Not knowing the change which had passed-upon him now, she hastens to express, by her actions, what words failed to clothe – but she is checked. “Touch me not ..” He had something He must do, and He tells her, ” … I have not yet ascended to My Father, and your Father; to My God, and to your God.” Jesus had habitually called God His Father, and in His darkest moment, His God – but now He united in one full sweep that full-orbed relationship which embraces at once Himself and His Redeemed. He does, however, commission her. “Go and tell.” To a woman then was given this honour to be the first that saw the Risen Redeemer, and the first to receive a commission from Him. “Go and tell.” And Mary had something to tell. “I HAVE SEEN THE LORD.” What a message to bear to the disciples!
How wonderful to be saying “I HAVE SEEN THE LORD” by personal experience! Mary, the weeping woman, became a woman witnessing as she “took the message”. Today He speaks to us – “Whom seekest thou?” Tell Him – “A Saviour” – make Him Lord of your life, Master of every circumstance. Hear Him speak your name as no one on earth can speak it, commission you, as He did with Mary -“Take the message” – “I know that my redeemer liveth.” Tell it as you go – until that day when waiting, weeping and witnessing are forever over, and in His presence we too shall be satisfied.
Written by Ida Ferguson