The Unfolding of Resurrection


John 20:1-18

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’
Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.
Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 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.
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.’ When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’
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.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). 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.” ’ 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.

The Unfolding of Resurrection

After an excruciating, heart wrenching Friday, a Saturday defined by the “numbness and ache” of utter disbelief how could Sunday be any worse? Surely for Mary Magdalene, Simon Peter, the beloved disciple and all the rest it could not be any worse. But alas Sunday does not start off offering any assurance of something better. It too is filled with shock, disbelief, tears. It is at first utterly immobilizing. Even when belief begins to emerge it does not lead to action.

Resurrection and new life sometimes takes awhile to fully unfold itself in us and lead us to act in new, fresh and empowered ways. But when we get it; when it gets us we are stirred to action and given fresh speech. We start at ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ Or we say ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’  But when the veil of tears is lifted we see what was already true. When our name is called and we are assured that we are not only known but also loved we take on new speech and proclaim with Mary Magdalene ‘I have seen the Lord’.

So today and all days I join my life and my voice with yours in proclaiming The Lord is Risen. The Lord is Risen indeed. Alleluia.


Awesome God thank you for Easter. Thank you for the life you give us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Bishop Gregory V. Palmer is resident bishop of the Illinois Area of The United Methodist Church.