Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Mary C. Earle

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.
—John 20: 18

Tuesday in Easter week

Things are not as they seem.

The tomb is empty.

Instead of a corpse, Mary Magdalene encounters angels in an empty tomb.

Instead of a gardener, she comes face to face with the Risen Christ. When he calls her by name, her confusion gives way to astonishment. The one who should be cold and dead is living and speaking to her.

“Do not hold on to me,” says the Risen Christ. (John 20:17) Strong counsel from the One who has crossed the boundary of life to death and lives again. He is changed. He is himself, yet utterly transformed.

He comes in a risen presence—radically different from his pre-crucifixion self, and yet profoundly the same. At first, Mary Magdalene does not recognize him. Her psyche is on overload. Too much change in too short a span of time. She has barely resigned herself to the death, barely begun to absorb the horror of the dying. Now, astoundingly, the Risen Christ is speaking to her. She hears her name, spoken by that well-loved voice, and recognition dawns.

Mary Magdalene obviously told the disciples about her encounter. She endured their incredulity. Perhaps she questioned her own experience. Over time she came to realize both pieces were true: the Lord lives, and we can’t hold on to him. She can’t hold on to him because the living and resurrected Lord is beyond all of our small categories for containing and trying to rationally comprehend the Easter mystery.

One writer from the early church said, “We cannot explain how he was raised. We do know why. For love.”

Risen Christ, during these great Fifty Days of Easter, lead me to know that you are the Love that creates all that is, sustains it in being, and brings new life out of death, by love and with love and in love. Amen.