“But Mary stood facing the outside of the tomb weeping. And behold, as she wept she stooped down to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one toward the head and one toward the foot where the body of Jesus had lain. and they said to her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken up my Lord and I do not know where they laid him.”
Once again, one of the beauties of John’s Gospel is that he gives us such an intimate picture of Mary Magdalene at the entrance to the tomb that held Jesus’ body these three days. At times, the Scriptures are highly doctrinal in nature (John being no exception), but at times we also see a very personal and intimate side; God communicating His truth to His people in a variety of ways to engage us all.
Yet, we are tempted to ask with the angels, why is she weeping? Has she not already heard the good news of Christ’s resurrection? Has she not already encountered the risen Christ on the way back to the city? Yes, indeed, this is the case as we harmonize the four accounts of Jesus’ resurrection. So, why the confusion? The answer is simple. How often it takes time for news such as this to sink in. Is not denial one of the most common responses to a tragic death? Do we not have to sometimes “pinch ourselves” when something remarkably good takes place. Mary needs time to be alone with Jesus for this news to sink in — and as of yet, such has not taken place. A few minutes on the road with other women is one thing; Mary needs more.
And so, we are reminded in accounts like this that God engages his people how we most need to be engaged. For some it is more a matter of principles and truths that leave us silent and humbled. For others it is more in the context of intimate relationship. Both means are just as authentic and meaningful and both are worked by God himself. And, for those who grew up singing old hymns of the early 20th century, it is this event that inspired the hymn, “I Come to the Garden Alone.”