It is Jesus that she is grieving for, Jesus that she is looking for and Jesus that is staring her in the face, but she doesn’t recognise him.
When Mary goes to Jesus’ tomb she is deeply grieving. She had been a very close friend to Jesus but suddenly he’s gone. All that’s left is his body in a cold, dark tomb. She must have been sad, confused and feeling rather hopeless. She goes to the grave, very early in the morning, perhaps to seek some peace and time with Jesus. But the body is not there. She is distressed and in tears. Mary then turns to see a man who she thinks is the gardener.
I wonder why Jesus chose to meet Mary in this way.
Mary’s recognition awakens only at the sound of Jesus saying her name. Their relationship and her hope are restored in one word. In that moment, Jesus created the most deeply, personal heart connection with his treasured friend. I find myself overwhelmed by the humility and deep love of Jesus in this scene. Sensitive to Mary’s grief he gently meets her in a quiet garden as if their special friendship required that level of privacy and exclusiveness. He chose to meet her first and without a crowd.
We need that deep connection with Him too. When we are distracted by the troubles of this life we can struggle to recognise Jesus. We can assume He has left us or been taken away from our situation. But when we turn and hear him speak to us by name, we remember that He is present all of the time, will never turn his face away from us and loves the deep connection he has with us. It is in those quiet, desperate, meek moments of life that we sometimes see and hear Him most clearly.
Mary then went to the disciples with the news that Jesus was alive. She was no longer distressed, searching and hopeless. She had been restored from the inside out and knew her reason for being again. Hearing Jesus say her name re-established Mary’s identity, faith and purpose. She became the first person to share the news of the resurrection.
Mary’s encounter with Jesus changed everything. It was such an ordinary meeting in one respect but in another so extraordinary. Jesus knows us and loves us deeply too. He sets up these opportunities for profound personal connection more than we realise. So, in the midst of our circumstances let’s allow ourselves the space to listen to His voice speaking our name. As we do so we can receive powerful revelation of the security of His love for us. This can sometimes take place in such a quiet and ordinary way that we can overlook the significance of that connection. But it is of such great value and results in a renewed sense of purpose and ability to move forward with faith filled trust. We need to know Him to follow Him. And we certainly need to know His love for us if we are to follow Him whatever the cost.