“But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into  the tomb.  And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.  Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”  She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” 

Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you seeking?”   She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” 

Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned and said to Him “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher). 

Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethern and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that He had spoken these things to her.      – John 20:11-18  (NKJV)

I still remember, from back in my high school days, watching Jesus Christ Superstar, the musical.  Movies didn’t come out on dvd’s back then, so I went to the theaters more than once to see it.  Then I bought the album (yes, the album – not a cd!) and played it over, and over, and over.  I wanted to be Mary Magdalene.  I memorized all her songs and sang along with her.  I wanted to be Mary Magdalene because she loved Jesus so much and seemed to have a special connection or understanding with Jesus that the others didn’t have.  And Jesus seemed to have a special fondness for her, too. 

It’s because of her love for him and the ‘something special’ they seemed to share, that I’m surprised when reading the verses above that Mary doesn’t recognize Jesus when he appears to her at the tomb, especially when her purpose for being there was to see Him!

When Jesus first speaks to her, she thinks He is the gardener!  It isn’t until He speaks her name that she recognizes Him. 

Hmmm…how often does this happen in our lives today?  No matter how much we love Jesus, and might even have a special connection with him, are there times when He’s right there and we look right at Him,  but don’t recognize Him?  Are there times when He speaks to us, but we don’t recognize His voice? 

The Bible doesn’t say why Mary doesn’t recognize Jesus.  I can only assume it’s because Jesus has changed, been transformed.  The disciples might not have recognized Him either, because the scriptures go on to say that Jesus showed them His hands and His side to show the marks of His crucifixion. 

What can we learn from this? 

Jesus might not always ‘look’ the way we think He will.  He might not always appear at the time or place we expect.  Even though we’re looking for Him, we might overlook Him, even though He’s right there with us.  We might not recognize the sound of His voice, but He is there. 

Have you been looking for Jesus?  Are you listening for the sound of His voice?  Take a second look.  Listen for Him calling your name.  Be ready to see Him and hear Him in new ways!  Look beyond your expectations, for expectations can be limitations. 

After Mary recognized Jesus, He asked her not to cling to Him.  He instructed her not to hold onto Him in that moment, but to go forth and tell the disciples that He would be ascending to His Father and their Father, to His God and their God. 

We’re to do the same.  When Jesus appears to us or works in our lives, we’re not to cling to Him and stay in the moment.  We’re called to share His Good News and the blessings of His presence with others!   

Our Senior Pastor, Dr. Terry Moore, reminds us that, as Christians, we’re Easter People.  Easter isn’t just a holiday or season, it’s who we are!   Look for Your Lord and Savior.  Be willing to see Him in new ways – in ways other than you ask or seek.  He is there with you!  Then go forth and share the Good News of the Risen Lord with others, that they, too, will become Easter People.