Notes on John 20:11-16

John 20:11‑16  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 5
Mary did not, could not, take things so quietly, as the two disciples. What was “home” now to her? What was the world? Nothing but an empty tomb where Jesus had lain. Others might depart again to their own home.
“But Mary stood at the tomb without weeping. While then she was weeping, she stooped into the tomb, and beholdeth two angels in white, sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where had lain the body of Jesus. And they say to her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith to them, Because they took away my Lord, and I know not where they laid him. Having said this, she turned back, and beholdeth Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith to her, Woman, why weepest thou? Whom dost thou seek? She, thinking that it was the gardener, saith to him, Sir, if thou didst carry him off, tell me where thou laidest him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith to her, Mary. She, turning, saith to him in Hebrew,1 Rabboni, which meaneth Teacher.” (Vers. 11-16.)
The sorrow of love for Jesus, that which mourns His absence, or which feels wrong done to Him in any way, is far different from the sorrow of the world that worketh death. It soon passes into life and peace through the grace of Jesus. Mary's sorrow was not fruitless, nor was it long. Other servants of the Lord and the Lord Himself whom she saw not, looked upon
her. While she wept outside, she stooped into the tomb and beheld two angels in white. But He was not there; they were sitting one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had lain. Yet we hear of no alarm, no amazement on her part: so absorbed was her heart with that one person, to all appearance lost to her, even His body gone so that she could not weep over it. Nor does she speak to them, but they say to her, Woman, why weepest thou? They were in the secret. She had not read as yet aright the signs of the grave. Her sorrowing heart would ere long receive better and clearer tidings still. Meanwhile she explains to them why she wept: “Because they took away my Lord, and I know not where they laid him.” She wholly overlooks the strangeness of the angelic apparition within the tomb, and takes for granted that every one must know who He was whose body was gone. But not even yet has the thought of His resurrection crossed her mind. The Lord was her Lord; she loved Him exceedingly, but to her apprehension men had taken Him and laid Him where she knew not. A soul may love the Lord, yet be dark indeed as to His risen glory.
Grace would now intervene. “On saying this she turned round and beholdeth Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.” How often this may be for our dull hearts! But He never acts beneath His name, and speaks that we may know Him. “Jesus saith to her, Woman, why weepest thou? Whom dost thou seek?” This last was a leading question. Till He is known however, there is still darkness, though there may be love. “She, thinking that he was the gardener, saith to him, Sir, if thou didst carry him off, tell me where thou laidest him, and I will take him away.” One word dispels all the difficulty and doubt, the expression, not of our love-to Him, but of His love to us. “Jesus saith to her, Mary.” The work was done, the great discovery made. He had died, He was now risen, and He appeared first to Mary of Magdala. She that had sown in tears reaps now in joy. The Lord appreciated her abiding at the tomb in sorrow, even though but an empty tomb. Her heart was now filled with joy, and, as we shall see, the joy would run over to gladden other hearts, the hearts of all that believed.
It was the good Shepherd calling His own sheep by name. She was the same to Him as ever; He stood in resurrection power; but His love was the same to her, certainly no less than when He cast seven demons out of her. Doubtless there was a sameness in the expression of her name which went straight home to her heart and recalled her from her dream about His person, once dead, but now in truth alive again for evermore. Soon she would learn that as He lived so did she also, alive to God in Jesus Christ her Lord. But for the moment to know Himself alive, Himself uttering her name with unutterable love was the fruit of divine grace that would satisfy her heart.