JOHN 20:10-18 JESUS SAID TO HER, “WOMAN, WHY ARE YOU WEEPING

12Apr

John 20:10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes. 11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 Then they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." 14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 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." 16 Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'" 18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

 Note that our Lord’s first appearance is not to one of the 11 disciples, but to Mary Magdalene. She will never be one of the apostles. She will never write a Gospel. She will never become a great preacher or leader. Nevertheless, our Lord chose to manifest Himself to her first. Why do you think this was? First, she had a great love for her Master, as He did for her. Second, she seemed to be the one with the greatest measure of grief. “Blessed are those who mourn, because they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). There is a third reason: Mary was there first. Jesus revealed Himself first to the one who was there first. Mary came to the tomb early, because of her great love, and her great grief, and Jesus revealed Himself to her, first. Fourthly, I think that it was because she was a woman and He always appears to those who are the most downtrodden. An important lesson this text teaches us is when we come to see things as they really are, we will find that many of our tears were unnecessary.

 

Probably the best known quote associated with St. Augustine is the quote at the beginning of his confession where he says, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”

And there is something about coming to the Scriptures and saying, “That which I don’t fully understand I’m still going to believe.” That does produce a peace that passes understanding.

In the Christian life the why questions will plague you all of your life.  We can have such great confidence in so many things and I think maturity is when you quit worrying about the whys and focus on the what.

We do not really know a great deal about the time between our Lord’s resurrection and His ascension. When you stop to think about it, a significant portion of each of the Gospels is taken up with the events of the last week of our Lord in Jerusalem. And yet, the 40 days following our Lord’s resurrection gets very little attention in comparison. The material we do have about this period is not meant to satisfy our curiosity about all that happened during this time, but is recorded to prove one important fact: Jesus Christ rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father!

Of the details we do find regarding our Lord’s ministry after His resurrection, a number of them are recorded only in Acts and 1 Corinthians. I did not realize how much of my understanding of our Lord’s ministry after His resurrection is based upon New Testament books other than the Gospels. Some of the most important details come from Acts 1 and 1 Corinthians 15:

10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.

John had taken the mother of Jesus to his home (19:27) and so he now hurried home to tell her the glorious news as he believed.[i]

Note that they go back home without proclaiming the message of the risen Christ. Mere intellectual evidence alone will not change people. We must meet Christ personally.

That is what happened to Mary: she lingered and met Christ. How many times it pays to wait! (See Prov. 8:17.) She saw two angels in the tomb (Luke 24:4 calls them “two men”) but was too taken up with her grief to let them comfort her.

Well, when Jesus appears to her, it sort of sets off a number of questions in all of our minds because Jesus’ appearances after the resurrection are interesting in and of themselves.  Let me show you a number of observations.

First there is this tangible part of the body of Christ.  That when he comes back from the dead, that when He’s resurrected, He’s still tangible, He’s still corporal, He’s still flesh and blood.  He bears the marks of His crucifixion.  He shows them His wounds.  He shows them where the spear went in His side.  He cooks and He even eats fish, so there is this physical nature, this corporal body of Jesus that’s still there.

But we also have this resurrected body that raises some of the questions.  He’s resurrected through these grave cloths.  He’s resurrected through the closed, sealed tomb.  And then He appears and manifests Himself in this upper room, or this locked room, on two occasions that we know of. So we have sort of this physical side, still there, but it’s a resurrected body and He can do some unusual things in this resurrected body.

  1. Mary’s distress

11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.

Mr. 16:5

She had not yet realized what John did. John must not have yet told her that Jesus was risen. He probably was too stunned and puzzled to say anything significant. [ii]She now peered into the tomb for the second time

Proverbs 8:17—'I love them that love Me; and those that seek Me early shall find Me.

Psalm 30:5, 'Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

She had devoted herself and her livelihood to following Jesus and supporting Him, along with some other women. She had watched helplessly as Jesus was tried, convicted, and crucified. She looked on as His body was laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Now, she believed that the body of her Lord had been taken. It was almost too much to bear.

 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

Evidently Mary had seen them earlier (Matt. 28:5-7; Mark 16:5-7; Luke 24:4-7). The angels' white apparel distinguished them as angels (cf. Acts 1:10), but Mary apparently did not recognize them as such. She responded to them as she would have responded to human beings, maybe because she was in the shock of grief and was weeping.  But often in the Bible, angels simply look like men, so that their appearance alone would not reveal their true identity (see Genesis 18 and 19; Acts 1:10-11; Hebrews 13:2). It would seem that the two angels made no effort to identify themselves as angels, nor even to inform Mary that Jesus was not there. Perhaps it was because our Lord was going to do this personally.

The description of the angels in v. 12 reminds us of the mercy seat in the holy of holies (Ex. 25:17–19); the risen Christ is now our Mercy Seat in heaven. It is as though God is saying, “There is now a new mercy seat! My Son has paid the price for sin, and the way is open into the presence of God!”

Exodus 25:17–19 17 “You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two and a half cubits shall be its length and a cubit and a half its width. 18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of one piece with the mercy seat.

13 Then they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him."

The angels asked Mary, “Woman, why are you weeping?” The inference is that her tears were not really called for. They were tears of love, and of sorrow, but they were also ill-founded. In Mary’s mind, this was the darkest moment of her life, and yet her tears were based upon false assumptions: that Jesus was dead; that His body had been stolen; that she would not be able to find His body. If Mary had known the real reason why the tomb was empty, she would not have been crying. Weeping was inappropriate in view of Jesus' resurrection.

She still doubted the Resurrection in spite of the angels' earlier announcement that Jesus had risen from the dead. That earlier announcement had produced some initial enlightenment and joy (Matt. 28:6, 8; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:6,

8). Mary still wanted to mourn over Jesus' body but did not know where it was. Perhaps her inconsistent behavior is more understandable if we remember that many people in that part of the world still express their grief almost uncontrollably.

 14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.

Mt 28:9; Mr. 16:9; Lu 24:16, 31; Joh 21:4

Some have suggested that the angels gave a look of recognition when they saw Jesus behind Mary, maybe they bowed and worshipped Him outside the tomb. We do not know why, but for some reason Mary turned around to gaze at the risen Lord. She saw Him, but she did not recognize Him

Some suggest that Jesus’ appearance was changed; others say she had a temporary “blindness” as did the Emmaus Road disciples who “were kept from recognizing Him” (Luke 24:16) until His act of disclosure.[iii]

Luke 24:16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. 

I think John shows us a number of things in the text, verse fourteen, “she’s turned.”  It seems as though she has her back to this apparent gardener, and then in verse sixteen she turns back.  And the word probably is meant more than just the physical aspect of her features.  She’s turning in her understanding of what’s happening to the Gospel of Christ.  She’s turning, understanding what this means.

No Jewish author in the ancient world would have invented a story with a woman as the first witness to this most important event.

 15 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."

Jesus  addressed  this  heartbroken  disciple  by  respectfully  calling  her "woman" (Gr. gynai), as had the angels

Jesus asks Mary the same question the angels had asked her moments earlier: “Woman, why are you weeping?”, but He adds a further question, “Who are you looking for?”. Jesus knew why she was weeping. He knew that the empty tomb caused her great grief. He knew that she was seeking His body. His words indicate to Mary that He knows something about her dilemma. Mary’s grief still blinds her to the truth, but she nevertheless seems to discern that this “gardener” holds the key to her quest for the Lord’s body. She pleads with Him to convey any information He may have to her:

There seems to have been something about Jesus' resurrection body that made immediate recognition of Him difficult for many people (Mark 16:12; Luke 24:16; John 21:4; cf.1 Cor. 15:35-49).

  1. Mary’s delight, see John 20:16-18.

 16 Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher).

When she first recognizes Him, He calls her “Mary” and that’s sort of the trigger.  And my mind at least goes back to John 10:27 where He says, “"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

So, through, perhaps tearful eyes, she doesn’t recognize Him, but then when she hears the voice and her name she connects it and that’s her Friend, her Savior, her Lord, Jesus.

"Never was there a one-word utterance more charged with emotion than this."

The title Rabboni is used in only one other place in the Gospels, Mark 10:51 (in the Greek text “Lord” is “Rabboni”). “Rabbi” and “Rabboni” were equivalent terms of respect. In later years, the Jews recognized three levels of teachers: rab (the lowest), rabbi, and rabboni (the highest).

We know from our Lord’s words that Mary has already locked Him in her grasp. It is as though she intended to keep holding on to Him, so that He would never leave her again. And it is because of this that Jesus responds,

17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'"

Ps 22:22; Mt 28:10; Joh 16:28; Ro 8:29; Eph 1:17; Heb 2:11

These words spoke of a new relationship, new relatives, and a new responsibility.

In a few days He’s going to tell Thomas to put his finger in His hand and put his hand in His side, so why does He tell Mary to “stop clinging to Me.”?

Some translations say here Do not touch me. This is hard to translate, but I disagree with this wording

One view is that it was inappropriate for Mary to hold Jesus since He had not yet ascended to the Father, but it was appropriate for Thomas to touch Jesus (v. 27). Therefore Jesus must have ascended to the Father and returned between His appearances to Mary and Thomas. Yet there is no biblical evidence that Jesus ascended to the Father and returned from Him between these two appearances. Moreover it is unclear why ascending to the Father should make any difference in the disciples' physical contact with Jesus' body. It is not that Jesus could not be touched. In but a few verses we will read, “Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and examine my hands. Extend your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe’” (John 20:27). Why would Jesus tell Mary not to touch Him, and instruct Thomas to do so? In Matthew 28:9, Jesus allowed the women to take hold of His feet and worship Him.

Second, the tense of the imperative is present, and this grammatical construction often conveys the thought of ceasing to do something.  Jesus is not trying to prevent Mary from touching Him; He is trying to make it clear to her that He is going to leave this world to return to His Father. She should not suppose that by clinging to Him she can prevent His departure.

 This best I can figure out on my own, and you could probably improve on this in your own study of Scripture, is that Mary’s still hanging onto a body.  She’s still hanging on to Christ before the resurrection.  She’s looking in a tomb for her friend and she sees Him alive and she grabs Him and holds on.  She’s holding on to the past, as it were.  She’s holding on to who He was and He’s trying to teach her that who I was has changed and who I am.  And, “I’m no longer here like I was, I’m going to ascend.  You go tell My friends, My disciples, what’s happened.”

 And so the relationship is changing.  “I’m going to ascend to the Father.  The relationship is going to be different than the way it was.”

The reason she should release Him was that she would see Him again. He remained on earth for forty days after His resurrection and often appeared to the believers to teach them spiritual truth (Acts 1:1–9). Mary had no need to panic; this was not her last and final meeting with the Lord.

A second reason is that she had a job to doto go tell His brethren that He was alive and would ascend to the Father. “

Only in heaven would it be possible for loving believers such as Mary to maintain contact with Jesus forever. Rather than remaining with Jesus from then on Mary needed to carry out a mission. She needed to inform the other disciples of Jesus' resurrection. This was the time for telling good news (i.e., the gospel), not for remaining with Jesus ceaselessly. This view makes good sense of the text and harmonizes with Jesus' invitation to Thomas (v. 27). Thomas needed to touch Jesus to strengthen his faith. Mary needed to release Him because He would not depart immediately, and Jesus had something else for her to do.

The message that Mary was to carry to the disciples was that Jesus was going to return to the Father. She would obviously report that Jesus was alive, but Jesus wanted her to communicate more than that. Jesus had spoken of His ascension before (e.g., 7:33; 14:12, 28; 16:5, 10, 17, 28). His disciples needed to understand that His death and resurrection had not wiped out these earlier predictions.

Some feel that Jesus did return to the Father on that morning, and that was the ascension He was referring to; but no other New Testament passage corroborates this interpretation. To say that He was fulfilling the symbolism of the Day of Atonement and presenting the blood to the Father is, I think, stretching a type too far (Lev. 16). For that matter, He had no blood to present; He had presented that on the cross when He was made sin for us. In His resurrection glory, Jesus was “flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39), not “flesh and blood.” The Resurrection itself was proof that the work of redemption had been completed (“raised because of our justification”—Rom. 4:24–25, nasb). What more could He do?[iv]

Jesus described the Father in a new way. He was Jesus' Father, but He was also the disciples' Father. Jesus did not say "our" Father. He and His disciples had a different relationship to the Father. Nevertheless they were all sons of the Father albeit in a different sense (cf. 1:12-13, 18; 5:19-30). Therefore Jesus called the disciples His "brothers" here. The context clarifies that Jesus was referring to the disciples and not to His physical half-brothers (v. 18). Likewise Jesus' relationship to God was similar to, though not exactly the same as, the disciples' relationship to God. The emphasis in Jesus' statement was on the privileges that His disciples now shared with Him because of His death, resurrection, and ascension (cf.

Ro 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,;

Heb 2:11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying: "I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You."

Galatians 3:26 Sons and Heirs 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Jesus said, in effect, “This (the physical contact) is not My real presence for the church. A new relationship will begin with My Ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit to the church.” Jesus then explained the fact of the new relatives. He called His disciples His brothers. Earlier He had said they were friends: “I no longer call you servants … instead, I have called you friends” (15:15). Believers in Jesus become a part of Jesus’ family with God as their Father (cf. Heb. 2:11-12; Rom. 8:15-17, 29; Gal. 3:26).

Mary’s new responsibility was to testify to His risen presence. She was the recipient of four special graces: to see angels; to see Jesus risen; to be the first to see Him alive; and to be a proclaimer of the good news. Christians today are also the recipients of special grace; they too are given this new responsibility to witness to the world (cf. Matt. 28:16-20).

Jesus’ words, I am returning to My Father indicate His unique sonship. Mary and the other women told the news to the disciples, but according to Luke, they did not believe her or the other women “because their words seemed to them like nonsense” (Luke 24:11; cf. Luke 24:23).

18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

Mt 28:10; Lu 24:10

As an obedient disciple, Mary went to the other disciples and told them that Jesus was alive plus the message that Jesus had given her. Again "the Lord" probably meant "Jesus" to her at this time, but she spoke better than she knew. Later she would understand more about the implications of that title.

John does not include the command which Jesus gave to Mary, though it is clear that He instructed her as to what she was to tell the disciples (20:18). She who was the first to go out to the tomb was the first to see the risen Lord, and apparently the first to be privileged to share the good news of His resurrection with others.

Mary not only shared the fact of His resurrection and that she had seen Him personally, but she also reported the words that He had spoken to her. Again, we see the importance of the Word of God. Mary could not transfer her experience over to them, but she could share the Word; and it is the Word that generates faith (Rom. 10:17). The living Christ shared His living Word (1 Peter 1:23–25).It is good to have faith that is based on solid evidence, but the evidence should lead us to the Word, and the Word should lead us to the Savior.

Before we go on to the next appearance of our Lord, I would like to make a comment or two. I would like you to note that our Lord’s first appearance is not to one of the eleven disciples, but to Mary Magdalene. She will never be one of the apostles. She will never write a Gospel. She will never become a great preacher or leader. Nevertheless, our Lord chose to manifest Himself to her first. Why do you think this was? I would call your attention to three important factors. First, she had a great love for her Master, as He did for her.

Second, she seemed to be the one with the greatest measure of grief. I am reminded of the words of our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who mourn, because they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). In the context of this sermon, Jesus did not promise blessings to those who were the greatest, or the most powerful, but to those in the greatest need, with the greatest desire for spiritual things.

There is a third reason: Mary was there first. Jesus revealed Himself first to the one who was there first. Mary came to the tomb early, because of her great love, and her great grief, and Jesus revealed Himself to her, first.

Fourthly, I think that it was because she was a woman and He always appears to those who are the most downtrodden.

I would also like to point out an important lesson which this text teaches us: When we come to see things as they really are, we will find that many of our tears were unnecessary. To put it in different words, Many of our tears are ill-founded. Both the angels and our Lord questioned Mary as to why she was weeping. The reason she gave was that her Lord’s body had been taken, and she did not know where to find it. The truth of the matter was that Jesus was not dead; He had been resurrected. And beyond this, His body was not missing at all, and no one had taken it. Jesus did not need to be found by Mary; Jesus found Mary.

We know that in heaven there will be no more tears: Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist anymore—or mourning, or crying, or pain; the former things have ceased to exist”.

Why will there be no more tears in heaven? The first answer is because there will no longer be those things which cause us to cry—no more suffering, no more sin, no more injustice, no more death.

But the second reason is that we shall then see all of our sorrows in an entirely different light. We shall see them in the context of the perfect work God was achieving through the things which caused us to weep.

When you and I get to heaven, we will see things in a very different light, and when we do, we will discover that many of our tears of sorrow were as groundless as Mary’s tears were. I am not saying that Christians should not cry. What I am saying is that a good deal of our sorrow is the result of our inadequate knowledge of what God is doing in and through our adversities. When Christians get to heaven, they will see the entire picture, and thus they will find that everything that has ever happened to them is for their good and His glory. No wonder there will be no tears in heaven!

Our comfort and joy may not come as quickly as Mary’s did, but it will be just as great, just as real, and it is just as certain.

  1. What will you do with the evidence?

    1. All died for this truth, would you die for a lie?
    2. If Jesus didn’t really die, then these Roman soldiers who dealt with death missed it
    3. If they stole the body, why didn’t they produce the body to prove that it wasn’t true with the guards there?
  2. What are the implications for my life?
  3. What will I do with this truth? What will I do about it?

 Mark 8:36 "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?

 John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. Have you trusted Him as your Savior? He can Save you if You ask Him based on His death, burial, and resurrection for your sins. Believe in Him for forgiveness of your sins today.

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“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  -John 8:32

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