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Lectio : : John 20

April 1, 2007

1-2 Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone was moved away from the entrance. She ran at once to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, breathlessly panting, “They took the Master from the tomb. We don’t know where they’ve put him.”
3-10Peter and the other disciple left immediately for the tomb. They ran, neck and neck. The other disciple got to the tomb first, outrunning Peter. Stooping to look in, he saw the pieces of linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in. Simon Peter arrived after him, entered the tomb, observed the linen cloths lying there, and the kerchief used to cover his head not lying with the linen cloths but separate, neatly folded by itself. Then the other disciple, the one who had gotten there first, went into the tomb, took one look at the evidence, and believed. No one yet knew from the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. The disciples then went back home.
11-13But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus’ body had been laid. They said to her, “Woman, why do you weep?”
13-14″They took my Master,” she said, “and I don’t know where they put him.” After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t recognize him.
15Jesus spoke to her, “Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?”
She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, “Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him.”
16Jesus said, “Mary.” Turning to face him, she said in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” meaning “Teacher!”
17Jesus said, “Don’t cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.'”
18Mary Magdalene went, telling the news to the disciples: “I saw the Master!” And she told them everything he said to her

Several things strike me as important and intersting as I read this passage and prepare to teach on it next Sunday, Easter Sunday.

1. Mary Magdalene: She is sometimes called the “apostle to the apostles” as she is the first to know of and announce the resurrection to Jesus closest friends and followers, his original students. What a high position! What an incredible honor! Of all people… a woman who many many believe to be an ex-whore and demon possessed. Truly a sign of God’s outlandish grace and also revealing God’s desire to break social precedent and make a woman play such a key role. Not only does she announce but she tarries when others leave and is rewarded with more revelation and an angelic visit and then a direct encounter with Christ!

2. In verse 10 it is clear that the disciples believed before they understood. How many times do we wait for understanding before we will believe? How does this apply to Christ followers who are so information-centric and proof oriented (myself deeply included but recovering) when it comes to how we live and practice our faith? How does this apply to our approcahes for engaging atheists and agnostics and those of other faiths? It seems that belief precedes understanding in this case…

3. I love how Jesus leads with questions. He doesn’t force revelation on us. He invites us to discover it, to discover HIM by engaging us with questions… what questions is he asking me right now?

4. Mary thought Jesus was the gardner. From NT Wright I learned this is not a wasted a phrase but central to this text. It ties us back into the garden story of Genesis 1 (something that John the writer of this gospel often does! See John 1.1 compared to Genesis 1.1) Jesus is the New Gardner, the new Adam. Adam, the first man was placed in a garden to tend it and keep it. Jesus is the new gardner making a new heaven and new earth… tending the renewed creation.

5. The titles Mary gives for Christ: Master, Teacher.

6. Mary goes a second time to the disciples… this time not to fetch them but to tell them something. Interesting liberation idea here. The first time she goes to get them it almost seems like she needs them to help her understand something that happened and needs them to explain someting to her and help her through something perplexing. The second time, after encountering Christ directly she goes to announce and teach them something.

7. Mary so deeply wanted to care for Christ… she asks the person she thinks is the gardener where he is so she can take care of his body, honoring him in death.

8. I don’t understand why Jesus says not to cling to him before he ascends…

+++ Lord, give me a heart like Marys to know you as Master and Teacher and Gardener, to treasure you the way she did, to encounter you and share your words with others the way she did. Lord, also bring my view of women into alignment with yours. Help me to value them the way you value them and continue breaking the latent sexism and sexist tendancies in me. Amen +++

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 11, 2007 1:23 am

    i’ve heard that the verb is present active (?) when jesus says not to cling to him…so he’s really saying, ‘don’t keep holding onto me.’

    most likely she wasn’t ever intending to let him go, so he had to say something.

    ~zena

  2. April 11, 2007 3:46 pm

    kevin, wanted to let you know i hijacked your post and put it on my blog. hope you don’t mind.

    -patrick c.

  3. April 13, 2007 8:37 pm

    I wonder if Jesus told her not to hang on to him as if to say that times are changing, he won’t be around anymore. Like she has to let go of the past and press on to the future? Not sure, but thought I’d share my (un)educated guess.

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