8 April 2012

John 20:1-18

"Jesus said to her, 'Mary!' She turned and said to him in Hebrew, 'Rabbouni!' (which means Teacher)." (v. 16)


When I am at the lectern and look out at the congregation in my church I can see who those at the front are, but those in the centre become a bit fuzzy, and those at the back, I cannot see at all. I am partially sighted. It doesn't matter how well I know them, what we have been through together, or how often they come to church. I will not recognise them until I get closer to them at the end of the service. Yet they are there.

Sometimes in the services I lead, I may have a conversation from the pulpit - inviting various members of the congregation to participate. I usually persuade someone to rush around with a microphone. Seven or eight people may contribute. After each contribution, I thank the person by name, and then move on. I know who they are because I have heard their voices. In the blur of poor sight, the spoken word (ie the voice) gives total clarity.

Mary cries out, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him" (v. 13). Blurred and confused, she does not understand. How could she? She sees Jesus face to face and yet she does not see. How could she? She knows he has died. She has seen it. Weighed down by grief and fear she mourns as she moans to the gardener, "Tell me where you have laid him" (v. 15). And then he speaks (verse 16). She hears the voice of Jesus - the Word of God. There is now total clarity and recognition. Here in the midst of all the hopelessness is God, is hope, and is life.

And she knows - "I have seen the Lord" (v. 18).

Where is Jesus in your life this Easter day? How do you recognise him? Is he hidden behind your theological rules and questions, behind your doubts, your fears, and your inadequacies? Have you lost the connection, the love, the enthusiasm, the understanding?

Where can you hear him?

  • In the voices of children at play?
  • In the sound of the wind or in the rain?
  • In the sound of people travelling by car by bus by foot?
  • In the sound of news broadcasts - showing people who need him, love him, don't know him?

Easter is about listening for the voice of hope, no matter how good or bad things seem. You may not always be able to see (or hear) him, but Easter morning tells us, convinces us, and helps us to acknowledge that "He is risen! He is here!"


To Ponder

How do you experience Jesus in your life?

What obscures your view of him?

When do you hear his voice most clearly?

Bible notes author

The Revd Sue Male

"I am a Methodist minister in Harrow and Hillingdon Circuit, married to Phil with two children - Charis, 17, and Michael, 14. "My passions in ministry are the Bible, inter faith relations and the promotion of equality and diversity in our churches.