John 20:15 If you didn’t know who was speaking and why, you would think that the question was the height of cruelty: “Why are you weeping”? Who could have asked that question knowing even a little of what had happened during the last week?
And Mary Magdelene was a witness to all of it. The religious leaders of her own people united in their hatred of an innocent man who never harmed a soul. The weakness and lack of courage of those men who were the closest to the Lord who were still hiding behind locked doors. The betrayal and denial of friends.
Every hammer blow upon nails and every groan of pain she heard. Every drop of blood and every agonizing breath she witnessed. There at the foot of the cross on Golgotha she felt the ground move beneath her feet and the shadows enveloped her as darkness covered the earth.
When Jesus forgave those who tormented him, when he commended himself into the hands of the heavenly Father who had forsaken him, when he said “It is finished” and breathed his last, she was there.
She came to his tomb early in the morning on the first day of the week with all that was necessary to bury him properly. The weight of her grief was literally in her arms in the spices necessary to prepare his body.
But when she got to the tomb, someone had stolen his body! What other explanation could there be?! And with that final insult to the one she loved, she broke down in tears.
“Why are you weeping?” Who could even ask such a cruel question if they knew even just a bit of what she had been through?! Of course she wept along with all of the countless others throughout time who have seen firsthand the judgment of God that the wages of sin is death.
The ocean could not hold all of the tears that have been shed from the beginning of time on account of what sin and death has done to this world and the lives of those who live in it!
Weeping and sorrow and tears: over the hatred in the family of man; over the famines and floods that tear the natural world apart; at the graveside of loved ones; about our shame and guilt and failures that add to the world’s misery.
“Why are you weeping?” It seems like weeping is EXACTLY what was called for both then and now! Except…
Everything had changed early that morning on the first day of the week. Absolutely everything! And the question was asked of Mary, and the question is asked of us, to open our eyes of faith so that we can see that tears are completely inappropriate…for the question is asked of us by the risen Christ.
The empty tomb and the heavenly angels and the risen Christ all bore witness to heaven and earth that the sin and death which brings tears to our eyes have all been defeated! Jesus asks us in all seriousness, Why are you weeping?
Why are you weeping when death has been defeated? Why are you weeping when your guilt and shame has been take away? Why are you weeping when there will be a new creation? Why are you weeping when you will live with me forever?
Our crucified and risen Savior asked Mary that question because he wanted her to believe and trust that even living in this broken and dying world there was simply no reason for her tears. He had died for her and been raised for her and was returning to his Father for her to rule all things in heaven and on earth for her eternal good. So it is for us.
Why are you weeping? There is no need and the day is coming when our risen Savior will wipe every tear from your eye. Amen.