What’s your favourite moment in the Bible?
For me, it’s an easy answer, and for those who know me well, this is not new news. My favourite moment is right after the Resurrection, but before the word is out. Still reeling with grief and lost in the misery of death, Mary Magdalene is in the garden near the tomb. She is so distraught and broken that she has a full conversation with two angels, seemingly without even noticing. Deeply upset over the missing body of Jesus, she has nothing of the fear response of nearly every other person in the Bible—no falling prostrate, no trembling—just, “They have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have put him.”
This is love and grief at its highest and lowest. Lost in such focused love and such deep loss, Mary can’t see what’s right in front of her. Another voice comes from behind her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Mistaking the resurrected Christ for a gardener—a gardener!—Mary asks him if he can assist her in finding Jesus.
Then comes my favourite moment. In the whole Bible, this is the moment that wrenches my heart out of my body, expands it 50 times and shoves it back in my chest, bright and glowing.
Obviously, I wasn’t there, but I can hear the voice of Jesus in that one word. I can hear the love that led him to die a brutal death to rescue us. I can hear the brilliance of God completing his master plan.
And I can feel the incredulity, the relief, the overarching joy that must have burst brain cells in Mary’s head as she steps out of her grief and realizes that the One she’s been looking for is Right There.
If there is one moment in the Bible that I’d like to be a fly on the wall for, it’s this one. I feel like the promise of the resurrection is perfectly realized in that moment. That we, who are so often overwhelmed by life, by death, by grief or just the daily distractions of life, can miss the fact that we’re having conversations with angels. We can miss the fact that Jesus is right behind us. And it is the voice of our Saviour, our Rabboni, who calls our names and fills us with overwhelming joy.
My hope for you this Easter is that you would have your moment of joy in the resurrection, even if you see it through the tears of grief. May you hear his voice calling your name and know, in the words of Julian of Norwich, “that all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
Christ is Risen.
Happy Easter, indeed.