She turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" 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." John 20:14b-16a
Some people love surprises, some people don't.
Whether you fit into the category of "surprise lover" or "surprise avoider" may depend on the nature of the surprise.
Most of us would probably, if given the opportunity, wish to avoid the surprise that happened to a family from Stickney, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.
Toward the end of last month, the Associated Press told how a family went to a funeral home to view the body of Lillian Grogan, their 91-year-old grandmother.
The time of reverence and respect was transformed when they looked into the casket and were surprised to find another woman lying there. The surprise was compounded by the fact the woman in the casket was attired in grandma's dress and favorite bracelet.
It appears the funeral home got the two ladies mixed up.
As I said, that's the kind of surprise most of us would like to avoid. In some ways, that surprise is not so much different from that experienced by Mary Magdalene when she went to visit Jesus' tomb. Instead of paying her respects to her Rabbi, she was shocked to find His grave empty.
No doubt many thoughts raced through her mind: had His body been moved; had it been stolen? If so, who would do such a thing, and why would they do it?
Mary's sad surprise was transformed when she heard Jesus speak her name, "Mary." Having resisted Satan's temptations and avoided all sin, Jesus had now conquered death. Risen and alive for all eternity, Jesus gave Mary the most wonderful and exciting surprise this sinful world and its once-lost souls have ever seen.
Jesus lives, and because He does, all who believe on Him will live forever.
And that, dear friends, is a surprise worth having, embracing, and believing.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, Your defeat of death is something no rational person would ever expect. Still, Your resurrection is real and because You live we shall live also. No matter what surprises this world may give me today, may I hold fast to this truth: the living Lord stands by my side and calls my name. In Your Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries