Where’s Jesus?

Today’s reading is John 20:1-18Open Link in New Window

Here is today’s reflection by Gaby.

Today we are going to play a little game called “Where’s Jesus?”
The Tomb
Where is Jesus? Gaby has a Jack in a box with the words “The Tomb” on the outside. She pushes the button and Jack dressed as Jesus with head covering and fake beard pops up!
Jack/Jesus in the box

Here he is…

When the children were young we used to play a lot of games of peekaboo and a jack in a box provided hours of entertainment. Even though they knew he was in there they would always be a bit surprised when he popped up.

Perhaps that’s how some of us feel about Easter… every year on Good Friday Jesus dies and is put back in the empty tomb but on Easter Day “surprise” he rises again.

If we look at our passage we see that the news of Jesus’ death had left Mary and the disciples in a terrible state. Mary can’t stop crying. Their Saviour was gone and so was their hopes and dreams. They were left with nothing.

Mary misses the first clue that Jesus had risen because there was no body in the tomb. All she wanted to do was to perform the last act of service on Jesus’ body with spices and he was gone.

They are some very funny moments in this passage. The graves clothes were left. Did Mary think someone had stolen Jesus’ naked body? She misses the second clue.

Now Mary must have been crying a lot because the passage refers to it three times, starting in verse 11. I imagine she wasn’t just quiet sobbing, the passage uses the word weeping which is much more dramatic. So there she is tears, wailing and then the next surprise. She looks into the tomb again and…

“Surprise” there are two angels. This is the third clue she misses.

I’m not sure she realises they are angels but the fact she didn’t see them go in there and they appeared out of nowhere should have given her a clue.

They ask her “Why are you weeping?” v.13

Why did they do this?

  1. They thought she might have stubbed her toe on the way into the tomb. NO
  2. They knew why she was crying but wanted to check.
  3. They were being kind and pastoral.
  4. They wanted to take away the shock of seeing two angels in a tomb so they asked an obvious question.
  5. They were drawing her towards faith because they knew they next surprise was a bout to happen.
  6. They were upset by her distress.

We don’t know why they asked the question but she told them, v.13 ”They have taken my Lord and I don’t know where they put him.”

You see she still thinks he is dead. She’s not quite ready for the miracle yet.

The next comic moment comes when Mary turns around and “Surprise He’s behind you!” Jesus is there right behind her… even funnier she doesn’t recognise him.

This is taken to another extent when she thinks he’s the gardener!

So she is clearly still weeping and snotty and wailing because the first thing Jesus says to her is “Why are you weeping?” v.15. She really must have been weeping quite dramatically!

Jesus also asks her “Who are you seeking?” v.15

Now if we return to Mary for a second, we can only see good in her intentions. She wants to love and care for Jesus even after his death. She wants to respect his body and show her love. She’s now missed the fourth clue… Jesus standing there in front of her.

So she has missed all the clues, she is sobbing and broken, the lowest moment of her life and then Jesus speaks. He calls her name. “Mary” Surprise!

Now this moment is almost a Scooby Doo moment, “Mary” she pretty much does a double take “Teacher” “Rabboni”. She can’t believe it… she finally sees it. He’s here. It’s Jesus!.

At this point she clearly throws herself at him as Jesus tells her not to cling to him, perhaps he’d let her hug him for a while but it was time to move on. Jesus then tells her to go and tell the others. Surprised Mary says “I have seen the Lord!”

Are you prepared for the drama and the comedy in this scene? She starts out sobbing, hollow and empty and she ends full. She is the first person to see the risen Jesus.

How do we treat Jesus’ rising from the dead? Do we just let it happen, expecting it to happen but still getting a little surprise every year like Jack in a box. Do we let Jesus pop up on Easter Sunday but then we push him back down into his box until next year.

Or do we say like Mary did “I have seen the Lord” and let that fact seep into our every day life, do we let the resurrection of Jesus be really key to our life and existence? Because the truth is that Jesus is risen every day. He rose once for all.

Mary didn’t realise the empty tomb meant Jesus had risen, she didn’t realise the grave clothes were no longer needed or see that the presence of angels meant that God was fully involved in this situation. She didn’t see that the man behind her was Jesus.

How many surprises would it take for us to notice Jesus in our lives? How far does God have to go before we realise like Mary did, “I have seen the Lord”.

Lord Jesus,

I pray that we will see you and be filled with joy at your resurrection. I pray we will see you and even when we don’t see you we will know that you are with us.


There will be a video version of the service.

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