Who is it you're looking for? (John 20)

John Chapter 20


The empty tomb

20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!’

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped round Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’

‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ 14 At this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realise that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’

16 Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’

She turned towards him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means ‘Teacher’).

17 Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”’

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ And she told them that he had said these things to her.



Think and Feel...


Mary is right at the heart of the most joyful story in the entire human history -- and she is overwhelmed with utter grief and hopelessness! 


1. How could this be possible? Can this happen to us?


Mary's despair is actually based on concrete visual evidence (almost).

Jesus’ death on the cross was more than she could bear. It was unimaginably painful and devastating. Now the only thing she can do is to anoint Jesus' dead body.

Yet not only his body is missing, she has no clue who took it! She wept and wept at the empty tomb…  


2. Does she find what she is looking for? What is she looking for? (Well, what else should we expect in a tomb?)


Mary even has a plan! “Tell me where you put him, and I will get him.”

The plan is her last desperate attempt to do something for Jesus' death, at least that's all she thinks she can do. 

But how can you “get him” if you can’t see him?


After being greeted by two angels and Jesus himself, she’s still searching and begging…. for the body. Mary is so preoccupied with looking for the dead Jesus that she can’t see the living Jesus.


3. In what ways are we (already following Jesus) still looking for the dead Jesus and fail to see the living Jesus? What can be the reasons? What's our plan to 'get' Jesus?


Despair continues… until Jesus calls, “Mary.”

She finally sees the living Jesus! Jesus is just a bit different from what she's expecting.

There is no need to search any more. All the grief, hopelessness, confusion are all irrelevant.


Mary has found Jesus.... Actually, Jesus found her, and called her by name.


4. How do we recognize Jesus in our lives today? “Who is it you are looking for?”


5. Our despair and anxiety are often linked less to our circumstances than to our perception, assumptions and understanding of them:

"They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!" (v.13)

"I have seen the Lord!" (v.18)

For Mary, seeing the living Jesus makes all the difference. What about you?



#despair #anxiety #grief #lent #jesus #confusion

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