New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
I am a school principal. When I am out and about in my community, I run into our current and former students at the grocery store, at church, at the movies and just about anywhere I go! I am always a little surprised by the reaction I get, especially from my current students. They may see me and be shocked that I ever leave the school (you don’t live at school???) or stunned into silence. Kids who give me a hug and tell me all about their weekend when I see them in school, stare at me as if I am a stranger when they see me in a new environment.
But the children only know me in a small way…Mary Magdalene knew her beloved teacher, Jesus very well. We don’t know whether his appearance was so drastically different or if it was just too hard for the brain to process seeing someone look as alive as before death so unexpectedly. Whatever the case, Mary Magdalene thought Jesus must be a gardener rather than the Messiah! But all it took for her to recognize him was that he spoke her name.
When we were kids playing in the neighborhood, we only came inside when our parents would call our names. And it didn’t matter how far away we were or how many of us were playing kickball, we recognized our parents’ voices as they called our name. Mary Magdalene may not have recognized Jesus’ physical presence but she most surely recognized his voice as he called her name.
Will I recognize Jesus’ voice when he calls my name? I hope so. I pray for the intimacy of a relationship with Christ that is unique enough that I know when he is speaking to me. Missing out on that would be such a loss. I am intentionally listening for him to call my name.
Dear Heavenly Father, I am listening for you to call my name. Help me be open to hearing your call and make a way for me to get up and follow you. In Christ’s name I pray. AMEN.