Why Are You Crying?

April 8, 2007 Easter Service
日本キリスト教団 頌栄教会牧師 清弘剛生 Pastor Takao Kiyohiro, Shoei Church, Church of Christ, Japan
Translator M.A.F., Indiana, USA
John 20:1-18

The Beautiful Reunion Scene

1. On the first day of the week, that is on Sunday, early in the morning, while still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. Why would she go to a tomb? Another gospel tells us it was in order to spread burial fragrances over the corpse of Jesus. [Her] beloved Jesus was dead and gone. Spreading the fragrances over his corpse was the least thing she could do.

2. But, when she arrived at the tomb, wow, she didn't have to remove the great stone that she had expected to be blocking the entrance to the tomb! Upon looking [inside] it didn't have the corpse of Jesus. Somebody carried it off. The corpse was stolen. That's what she thought. She immediately went to Peter and told him the situation. "The Lord has been removed from [his] tomb. We don't know where he is placed."

3. After that the story goes on to say that Peter and another disciple ran to the tomb. They went to the tomb and had a look inside. Then, it is written that "The linen was left behind." The text says with deliberate emphasis that the linen was left behind and that Peter confirmed it. And it is even written expressly that "The shroud which they had wrapped around the head of Jesus was not left in the same place as the linen, but [he] rolled it up in another spot." Why was such a thing as this tediously written? It shows, in short, that "Mary had a grave misunderstanding." Mary said that "The Lord was taken from [his] tomb." Everybody, please think about this. In order to carry away a dead body, would you tidily unwrap the linen and carry away the remains by itself on purpose? If that's how it was, that's a bizarre and overly methodical robbery. If it wasn't a robbery, even if someone had transferred the corpse with good intentions, normally speaking, nobody would have just transferred the bare remains. Therefore, when all is said and done, Mary was mistaken. No, "the Lord was not taken from [his] tomb." Mary made a major mistake. She didn't realize [something].

4. Thus, because she hadn't realized yet the great [truth], she kept crying. The scripture says, "Mary stood outside the tomb and was crying," (verse eleven). It says that while she was crying and when she looked inside the tomb, "she could see two angels who wore white robes at the place where the corpse of Jesus had lied down." [I'm] not sure what's going on here. How did she see them, how did she understand that they were angels? If they were obviously angels, why wasn't Mary amazed by them? I don't understand this. But, the main thing here, even more important than her having seen angels, is the message addressed to the sobbing away Mary. Mary heard the following words. "Oh woman, why are you crying?" Since the fact itself of a person crying at a tomb is not anything unusual, he is not merely asking the reason why. Instead, it is more like he is saying, "How come you're crying? You don't have to cry no more." Really, you shouldn't cry anymore.

5. But, as Mary still kept on crying, she said, "My Lord was taken away. I don't know where he has been put." While saying that, when she turned back around, the text says she could see Jesus standing. However, she did not realize it was Jesus. Even though Jesus was near, Mary hadn't realized it. So, the important thing that she hadn't realized -- It was that Jesus had resurrected from the dead, that Jesus was no longer among the dead, that Jesus was alive and what's more that he was right there beside her.

6. She had not realized that. Thus, again she turned her back on Jesus and continued to cry. The Lord says to Mary the way she was, "Oh woman, why are you crying? Whom do you seek?" Jesus asks her the same thing the angel [asked her] just moments ago. But, Mary thought him to be the gardener, and she replies still sobbing, "If you might have transported him away, please tell me where you have put him. I will take [custody of his body]."

7. Whereupon, Jesus calls out with just one word, "Mary." "Mary" --. With that one word it was enough. She understood with Mary. She understood with the voice that called her own name. She turned around and said, "Rabboni," which means, "My teacher." Just as [Jesus] had called [her] that on countless occasions so far, she had called Jesus "Rabboni" just like always. Mary -- Rabboni! It is the most beautiful reunion scene in all of scripture.

Why Are You Crying?

8. Well, when we read today's passage of scripture, we'll notice that the word for "cry" is repeated. The fact that Mary "was crying" is given particular emphasis by means of this scene. She was crying as person who could do nothing but cry. That's how it seems to me. As I mentioned earlier, the least thing she could do was just anoint Jesus with fragrances as he was dead. But, even [his] corpse had vanished. She [could] only cry some more, right?

9. Indeed though, this was not the only time she was crying as a person who could only cry. I think she had been crying straight through since the Friday when Jesus was crucified. When Jesus was arrested, put on an unfair trail, whipped, and had shed his blood, she could do nothing but was helpless. When Jesus had borne his cross upon his shoulders and went to the hill of Golgotha, she could do nothing. When his hands and feet were impaled with spikes, and Jesus lifted his crying voice, though she heard it, she could do nothing. When Jesus was suffering and suffering upon the cross, she could do nothing. When Jesus was about to stop breathing, she could do nothing. All she could do was cry and cry. When Jesus was buried in the tomb, she could never do anything again for him. As the morning of the third day came, even when she went to the tomb, she could do nothing. Nothing but anoint the corpse of Jesus with fragrances. She could do only that much. But, even his corpse had vanished. Again she was helpless to do anything. She could only cry.

10. We have times when we can only cry. Indeed we certainly do have times like that. So, we can sympathize with Mary's tears. There may just be a particular time when we are weighed down by absolute and utter helplessness, having come face to face with the reality of death like Mary. As with Mary, when the flame of a loved one's life is burning out, when it burns out completely, a person is helpless to do anything. He or she can only cry. Sure enough, even during this year, in this place where we are sitting, in this sanctuary, many tears were shed. During the funeral services held, many tears have been shed. The figure of Mary just sobbing and sobbing is not just something other people do.

11. But, today's passage of scripture does tell us such as we are one thing that happened. At that time, at that place, even though Mary could only cry, yet Jesus did address her. He said, "Why are you crying? Whom do you seek?" It was [like he was] saying, "How come you're crying? You don't have to cry no more. Ain't I here?" Jesus talked to her like that.

12. Why should she not be crying anymore? Mary just didn't realize it, though. Jesus was raised from the dead. Jesus had knocked down the gates of death. He has shown that death is not hopeless. This Jesus is right at [our] sides. Mary just hadn't realized it. That's why she truly shouldn't have to cry.

13. The Lord is speaking to us the same way, today, on this Easter. We are repeatedly stricken with our own powerlessness. There are times when we only cry. Perhaps there may be some who have come here holding such grief and sadness. Or no, even if there is someone at this time who does not think he or she is weak like that, ultimately, surely, just as the scripture shows, we are completely powerless before the reality of death. [We] certainly are. Yet, however powerless a human may be, even though one can only cry, one shouldn't have to cry anymore because Jesus is not powerless. Jesus knocked down death and blew away the black clouds of hopelessness, and he is near by us and is speaking to us. He is telling us you don't have to cry anymore.

Stop Clinging To Me

14. Well as we go back to the next part of the narrative, I would like for us to remember just one more thing. To Mary after she turned back around, Jesus had said, "Stop clinging to me because I have not yet gone up to [my] father. Go to my brothers and tell them this, 'I am going to the one who is my father and is your father, and also, to the one who is my God and is your God.'," (verse seventeen).

15. Mary had encountered the Christ of the resurrection as one visible to her eyes. However, Jesus said, "Stop clinging to me." To speak strictly on this, it doesn't mean "Don't touch [me]." It is the statement, "Stop clinging [to me]." He meant you should not always cling to the Christ who has appeared in a visible form. Why [not}? Christ says, "Because I have not yet gone up to [my] father."

16. Jesus is going to the father, returning back to heaven and will be one who is not visible to the eye. Christ will no longer be someone she will always see with the eye, or someone she will always be able to touch with her hands. Mary needed to understand that that was okay. When Mary was crying, Jesus was way already behind her. She just hadn't realized it. Even after she turned around she still didn't understand. She had certainly "seen" though. But she didn't understand. Yet even at that time Jesus was right there. So how did she understand that it was Jesus? It wasn't because she saw his figure. It was because Jesus addressed her with "Mary." It wasn't just because his voice reached her ears as an audible voice. That's not why, rather it was because his voice resounded in Mary's heart.

17. Through the voice of Jesus which resounded in her heart, that voice [of the son of God], she understood, "Ooh, Jesus is with me." And that was enough. Mary needed to know that was enough. And we need to know that too. Jesus went back to heaven and has become invisible to us. But, his voice resounds in [our] hearts. That's when a person realizes. Even though one may not have understood so far, the one invisible to the eye, the risen Jesus is with us. We just haven't realized it yet. We will understand that. That happens to us too. And this same Jesus, the risen Jesus is speaking to us over and over, and says, "Why are you crying? You don't need to cry anymore."