John chapter 20

“I have seen the Lord!”

“Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.” – Vs 18 ESV

What a dark morning it must have been as Mary Magdalene made her way to the tomb of Jesus. Not only was the sky dark, but everything in her world was darkened by sadness and the painful realization that her teacher and friend, Jesus, was dead. Her hopes in Him as the coming Messiah had given way to disillusionment and despair. Her mind must have been reeling as she tried to grasp what had happened over the last 24 hours. It all began so well, with His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but somewhere along the way,  it had taken a nasty turn for the worse. He had been arrested, beaten, mocked, falsely accused, and run through a series of trials. And then it had ended with His excruciating death on a cross.

Now as she made her way to the tomb, she had one thing on her mind: the task of anointing Jesus’ body for burial – something they had not been able to do the day before because it was the Sabbath. But when she and the other two women who accompanied her arrived at the tomb, the were shocked to find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. They immediately ran to tell the disciples. But at this point, she had robbery, not resurrection on her mind. She told them, They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him” (Vs 2 ESV). They all ran back to the scene of the crime. Peter and John entered the tomb, but Mary Magdalene remained outside crying. Could it get any worse than this? Not only was her teacher dead, now His body was gone. Even when she was confronted by the angels and asked the reason for her tears, she could only respond, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him” (Vs 13 ESV). Then she turned and saw the resurrected Lord, but failed to recognize Him. He too asked her why she was crying, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking? (Vs 15 ESV). Assuming Him to be the gardener, she responded, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away” (Vs 15 ESV).

Do you see the irony in this scene? Here was Mary Magdalene, standing in front of her resurrected Lord and Savior, and all she could think about was completing her task of anointing His body for burial. She had come to do something for Him, and was failing to see the magnitude of what He had just done for her. She had become consumed by her circumstances. Everything around her was telling her that all hope was lost. The one on whom she had come to depend was no longer there for her to lean on, learn from, and hope in. She was on her on. This was the man who had given her back her life by casting seven demons out of her. But now He was gone. At least that was her perspective – until He said her name. Then her eyes were opened and she recognized Him. In joy she clung to Him. But Jesus gave her a job to do. And it was different than what she had originally come to do. She wasn’t going to anoint. Instead she was going to announce. She was to tell the disciples the good news of Jesus’ resurrection. And she did, exclaiming, “I have seen the Lord!” (Vs 18 ESV).

“I have seen the Lord!” Isn’t that the news we all should be shouting? Those of us who have found new life in Christ should be telling everyone we meet that we have had a personal encounter with the Lord. We have seen Him. We have experienced Him. Our message of good news should not be academic, but actual. We should be able to say that He is alive and well and active in our lives. But for many of us, we are like Mary Magdalene. We live our lives focused on our circumstances, failing to recognize Him when He does appear. We act as if He is dead and our cause defeated. Our Jesus is a Jesus of the past. He is not alive and influencing our lives today. So instead of announcing Him as the living Lord, we “anoint” Him by paying our last respects. We sing about Him. We study about Him. We read books about Him. We listen to sermons about Him. But we fail to SEE Him. We fail to experience Him as the risen Lord. May we open our eyes and see Jesus standing before us today, so that we may say with Mary, “I have seen the Lord!”

Father, Your Son is alive and well, but I often act as if He is still in the tomb. I can so easily view Him as an historical figure. I can study His life and teachings. I can know all there is to know about Him. But I can fail to see Him and know Him. I can allow my circumstances to convince me that He is no longer with me. But open my eyes to recognize Him as alive and active in my life. He doesn’t need me to anoint Him, but to announce Him. May I be able to shout, “I have seen the Lord!” today. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men