Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” John 20:15
Tim Hansel, the founder of Summit Expeditions, went for a climb and fell a hundred feet, landing flat on his back. Two days later a journey of pain began that lasted decades, until he died at the age of 68. Soon after writing his book, You Gotta Keep Dancin’, Tim spoke at my church in San Diego and made the following audacious statement, a comment that stayed with me for years. Tim said, “Every now and then take everything you think you know about Jesus and toss it out the window.” Why, Tim? He went on to tell us that Jesus is infinitely more beautiful, more powerful, more terrible, more creative, more loving, than we could ever think or imagine.
Jesus asked Mary Magdalene, “Why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” He already knew why Mary Magdalene wept. She wept for the same reason I often weep. In fear or in sorrow I weep, because I just do not realize Who Christ truly is. Mary thought Jesus was dead even though He was standing right in front of her. Similarly, many of us act like the fool spoken of in Psalm 14:1 and 53:1, who declares, “there is no God” and then go on to commit sin without compunction. We pray to a God we reckon to be dead or at least distant, like functional atheists, declaring belief in God but rarely acting like it. If we knew the power of God and believed in His willingness to help, there would be no reason to turn to the comforts and distractions of this world. Perhaps we love the world and the flesh so much that we take comfort in the fear, sorrow and even despair produced by unbelief. Considering the enormity of our self-induced pain, we thus feel entitled or deserving of sinful indulgence.
The problem is that we do not know Whom it is we are seeking. Mary mistook Jesus for the gardener and considered Christ helpless in the grip of the grave. How limited is our concept of God? The best time to answer that question is when life shoves us to the edge of despair. Who do we seek in those moments?
So, start all over again. Let’s toss out what we know about God and elevate Christ to the level He deserves. He is the One who sees our circumstances, holds us close to His heart, delivers us from all our troubles, restores our emaciated soul, and grants us higher purpose. Don’t look for the old Jesus. He is not there. Look for the risen, triumphant, glorious Jesus, for Whom nothing is impossible. Oh Merciful, Holy God, fill us with Your Holy Spirit so that we have ears to hear and eyes to see the Holy One of Israel as He really is. Deliver us from wicked hearts of unbelief which lead us into more temptation than necessary.