Based on JOHN 20:1-18

The way we believe depends on the way we see things, whether we truly see things or we see what it is we expect to see.

Much of John’s gospel is about what people see or don’t see
its about how they see and what they miss
Mary comes to the tomb… and she sees the stone has been rolled away…
she assumes that someone has stolen the body of Jesus
Mary runs to tell Peter and the disciple that Jesus loved…

the disciple Jesus loved… who is that?
The disciple whom Jesus loved is referred to, specifically, six times in John’s gospel:
for many years it was thought to be John, the writer of the gospel, John the evangelist… In fact the last time I preached on this text I assumed the other disciple was John
most modern biblical scholars don’t believe the author is referring to himself
But they don’t agree as to who it was
James, the brother of Jesus, Lazarus, we don’t know who it is, or really even why he’s not named… probably not John…even though there are famous paintings of Peter & John and many preachers just go along with the traditional assumption which is no longer upheld— they see John when the words say the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved,

no matter…
Peter and another disciple hear from Mary that the stone is moved and they race to the tomb
the unknown disciple beats Peter to the tomb.. and looks in and sees the linen wrappings that the body of Jesus had been wrapped in
then Peter goes in and Peter sees the linens, the grave cloths
then the other disciple follows and sees and believes…. but he does not say anything, nor does Peter
Then they just leave and go home..
It’s not clear…what they saw and what it meant to them

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb…even as they leave
and while she weeps she looks again into the tomb and sees 2 angels dressed in white
She didn’t expect to see Jesus
she sees and understands only that the body of Jesus is missing
When these angels ask her why she is crying she replies that someone has taken his body
She wasn’t thinking in terms of anything miraculous,
She was thinking simply that even in death they would not let Jesus be and somebody had stolen his body…
She turns and she sees Jesus… be she does not see — she does not recognize him
Her eyes may be clouded by tears and grief
Mary talks to him, but doesn’t recognize Jesus until he calls her by name, which echoes John 10, where Jesus speaks of how he, as the Good Shepherd, calls his sheep by name and leads them out into green pastures.

Mary–is experiencing the kind of ritual grieving she was prepared for and the kind of grieving that comes unbidden.
We are familiar with this…We have had loved ones die and grief is not always controlled.
My mother died a year ago this past week… I feel unbidden grief more these days… each time I want to ask her a question and I realize I can’t
It is no wonder that Mary needed to hear her name.
That the apostles want to see that her story is true.
When she really sees Jesus, recognizes him, Mary calls him Robouni— which means teacher
In truly seeing Jesus at the same time she sees herself as a disciple, as someone who would call him teacher

We do not believe in an impersonal God, uninvolved in our lives.
We believe in the God who calls us by name and claims us as God’s own.
Jesus calls Mary by name and from that instant forward the whole course of human history was changed in so many profound and complex ways that it’s not possible to imagine otherwise
For Mary Magdalene the only thing that had changed was that for reasons she was in no state to consider….her dear friend and teacher was alive again…

By the end of the passage, Mary reports back to the disciples “I have seen the Lord!”, which is the purpose of John’s gospel–by showing us Jesus, John is showing us the Lord.
When we see Jesus, we see God.
Seeing is both sight and vision.
Mary sees Jesus, truly sees Jesus.

And we are invited to see him, to understand him, in new ways too.
We are called, like Mary, to testify to what we have seen.
Here we are, 2,000 years later because Jesus called Mary by her name and this woman told people that she had seen the Lord.
It matters that we tell people when we have seen God, because all these years later, we’re still telling her story, even though in this text, at least, Mary’s only qualifications for the job of evangelist seems to be that she was there, and she recognized his voice when he called her name.
 And so, like Mary, we, the church are called to show up,
We are called to share where we have seen God.
Just as Mary couldn’t hang on to the resurrected Jesus in the garden, we can’t leave it there in the garden either.
The mystery of the Resurrection is still in process and there is a world out there that needs to hear a message of hope instead of the world’s loud and clear message of fear and anxiety.

We can’t just stop on Easter morning. We have Good News to share!
We are called to let others know that despite the things of this world that are trying to convince us  Death is in charge, we have seen and we believe something different.
We have seen an empty tomb.
We have seen grave clothes abandoned as unnecessary accessories. We have seen the Lord and heard him call our names.
We are people who can look at the violence, injustice, and oppression in the world and still claim Death is not going to have the last word. We are people who claim there is a mystery at work.
We are the resurrected body of Christ…we are the church living the ongoing resurrected life of Jesus
We pause on this day to celebrate the resurrection… but it doesn’t stop here… it is only the beginning

We must do our best to be open to seeing and becoming something new…
Something new to meet the needs of 2018 and the years to come
Being the resurrected body of Christ… the church of tomorrow, the worshiping community of tomorrow, may be something that seems unrecognizable to us, especially those of us who have grown up only knowing a particular way of being church.

We have an obligation to a world who does not expect to see God
It may only be possible when we slow down and listen for Christ to call our name, to speak a word of peace to us, or guide our actions… as a body of believers… as the church
only when we let go of our expectations and slow down long enough to hear Christ calling our name as the church that we will be able to recognize the Risen Christ truly see him and realize he has been with and in us the whole time. Amen

Resources:

Thief or Terrorist: What Kind of Criminal Was Crucified With Jesus?


http://www.workingpreacher.org/?lect_date=04/01/2018&lectionary=nl
http://www.workingpreacher.org/narrative_podcast.aspx?podcast_id=1001
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disciple_whom_Jesus_loved
Narrative Lectionary: Sunday’s Coming!
Recognizing Jesus at #NEXTChurch2014
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-easter-effect-and-how-it-changed-the-world-1522418701
The Gospel of John, A Commentary by Rudolf Bultmann