Mary Magdalene went to Peter and John on Easter morning. Presumably, she didn’t go to them and ask, “Will you please come with me to the tomb, and then go home without saying anything?” But that’s what they did. After Peter and John witnessed the fact that Jesus’s body was no longer there, they returned to their homes.
Mary was not satisfied by this. She “stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him’” (John 20:11-13).
So upset was Mary by Jesus’s missing body that she didn’t even notice her heavenly visitors! Her eyes were clouded by tears, grief, and frustration. This cloudiness continued when “she saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 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’” (verses 14-15).
Mary knew that Jesus was dead. She had witnessed his brutal suffering and death. She wasn’t looking for a living Jesus; she was looking for his body. So when Jesus appeared before her, she didn’t recognize him. But Jesus knew what would open up her eyes to his presence: just one word. “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned and said to him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means, Teacher)” (verse 16).
This exchange brings to mind an earlier passage in the book of John. Jesus says, “He who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (10:2-3). The Good Shepherd calls us all by name. We are not numbers to him; we are individuals, loved and redeemed by him. When he calls us by our names, our eyes are opened to see his presence in our lives.
During this Easter season, we stand with Mary by the tomb and encounter our Rabboni. We celebrate the gifts of love, redemption, and life that Jesus has and gives to us. Take a moment and thank Jesus for these gifts, and thank him also for the people he put in your life to show them to you.