This Lenten season at Ecclesiax, we have been talking about encountering the transcendent. It seemed an appropriate way to prepare ourselves to celebrate the Resurrection. Looking at our Easter story from John 20:1-18, I couldn’t help but notice something important. A few days before Easter Sunday I began to see a lot of status posts proclaiming “He Is Risen” and similar messages. These are beautiful declarations of the belief in the resurrection of Jesus, but something was missing as I studied the passage from John.
Mary Magdalene had gone to the tomb Sunday morning only to find it empty. She rushed to Peter and the ‘Beloved Disciple’ to tell them someone had moved Jesus’ body. The two men ran to the tomb and found it empty, just as Mary had said. Peter went inside and saw the empty grave clothes. The other disciple then entered and having seen the same thing, he believed. The two men left, but Mary stayed behind crying.
Mary was overwhelmed and distraught. She looked inside the empty tomb and saw two men in shining clothing sitting where the body had been. They asked her why she was crying and she repeats her story about Jesus’ missing body. She turned around and noticed someone standing nearby. She asked him if he had moved the body and where, so that she could go get it. The person she thought was the gardener, said her name and she realized it was Jesus. She was overjoyed and Jesus had to ask her not to cling to him but to go and tell the others that he was on his way to the Father. She took the message, but the first hing she said to them was “I have seen the Lord!”
How appropriate that this Easter, after seeking the transcendent, we should identify most with Mary’s witness. Yes, the tomb is empty. Yes, we believe he has risen, but resurrection comes to my life when I can say “I have seen the Lord!” I have not seen the physical resurrected body of Jesus, but I have had experiences that left no doubt that I had experienced his real presence. When I went through the darkest time of my life it wasn’t a knowledge that Jesus was alive that kept me going, it was the knowledge that “I have seen the Lord.” We should seek transcendent experiences not because they make us feel good, but in order to be changed. We should seek them so that when we are in the middle of our personal valleys of the shadow of death, we can say “I have seen the Lord” and know resurrection life. My greatest wish for you this Easter is that you have seen Him, and if not, that you will seek Him.