The day of Jesus resurrection began, in many ways, as an ordinary day. Three women going to the grave of a close friend who had died cruelly and unjustly two days earlier. United in their grief and sorrow, devoid of purpose. They had put all their hopes in this man, and He had been cruelly and ruthlessly taken away from them – seemingly before His time. Jerusalem, they had thought, would be His great triumph.
But it seemed like only defeat. There was no sign of hope. But they could not forget the impact He had on their lives. They went to take care of the body.
However, all was not as it seemed. First, on the way, they were told not to look for the living amongst the dead.
Then even more so, they turned up and found the gravestone rolled away.
Finally though, the big discovery. The body was gone. Jesus was not there.
For Mary though, not even this was going to be the highlight of her day. She met a man – whom she assumed to be a gardener (the first of many similarities between Jesus and the first man of the ‘old’ creation, Adam, alluded to that day). Naturally, as Jesus body was gone, the first instinct was to think someone had taken it away.
Jesus had said He would be raised, but surely He wasn’t actually going to come back physically from death. Was He?
So Mary innocently questions this gardener, and asks Him where Jesus body is.
He replies with one word. Her name.
Jesus calls her name, and instantly she knows who it is. No more words are required. She recognises His voice, the way He calls her name.
What an incredible experience. To have such intimacy with the divine, that they merely need to say your name, and you know. It’s one of those almost unspoken truths, like something you see between two people who know each other initimately – we often see it in married couples – one word, or even one look, is enough. The outside doesn’t even matter, but something deep inside connects.
This, not the physical encounter, is how Mary know Jesus is risen. She had been with Him physically all along, but not recognised Him. But He speaks her name, and suddenly this all changes.
The truth of Jesus impact on our lives and our relationship with Him goes way beyond the physical. People often debate the whole is faith about how you live, about what you do or what you believe.
I think it’s all of those. But most importantly, it’s about who we are on the inside. Because that will show itself externally almost without words, without need for us to broadcast it. It will show itself as fruit, pouring into the lives of others.
This is the intimacy the resurrection encounter reveals.
The resurrection was above all a new beginning.
It showed us that death is not the end, that no matter how black things are, no matter how hopeless things seem, that there is always a reason to hope, always a God who knows us, who is with us, who journeys through it with us – and that new beginnings can be found from the blackest of nights.
It’s a process that goes on, all the time, even now. When my own Mother died, it was a black day, a day when hope seemed lost. But in the time since, God has used it to bless me, to help me grow, and to bring healing and life to others. Even in the midst of that darkness, there has been life.
It is no coincidence the resurrection event happens in a garden too – when God created the world, the fall, the disconnect from God, happened in the garden. It makes perfect sense then for this new beginning, this new creation, to reveal itself in a garden, for Jesus to be mistaken for the gardener. In many ways, He is in a way.
Jesus chooses this deliberately as the place to reveal Himself for the first time, to show that all things are redeemable, that this new creation will not be like the first.
Now, instead of death and disconnection, there is life, hope and joy. Reconciliation and restoration, a new beginning.
Whatever happens now, death is defeated. The biggest battle is won. There is true hope, not mystical, airy fairy kind of hope which relies on sentiment and idealism.
There is hope that exists, that is true, that has foundations, that cannot be shaken.
Resurrection is that hope. Jesus is its foundation.