John 20:16

I. THE CAUSE OF MARY'S WEEPING. Try for a moment to think of the body of Jesus as being only that of a common mortal. Let the instance be that of one dear to yourself. The body has been safely laid away, and the earth heaped over it. Suppose, then, that in a morning or two you find the grave broken open and the body removed. Your feelings upon such an outrage would enable you to understand the feelings of Mary here. No feeling is more proper than that which regards the body of a dead friend as something sacred. Consider, too, what an extraordinary Benefactor to Mary Jesus had been. Out of her he had cast seven demons.

II. THE QUESTION COMES FROM THOSE WHO HAVE A RIGHT TO ASK IT. It is the question of angels, and it is also the question of Jesus. It is the question of those who know the real state of things, to one who in anguish is following a falsehood - one of the likeliest of falsehoods, indeed, but a falsehood after all. As to Jesus, he would ask the question with a sort of secret joy, well knowing how quickly those tears would be dried up, and how soon Mary would stand awed and gladdened before this stupendous revelation of immortality. The question was neither intrusive nor superfluous. How many are the tears and lamentations of ignorance! It seemed as if, in this matter of the Resurrection, the possible must become the actual, before even the possible could be credited. Jesus would not be astonished at this weeping of Mary; what he wanted was to deal with it promptly. He did not seek to weep with weeping Mary, but rather to have Mary rejoice with rejoicing angels, and with the rejoicing Jesus himself; and for once in the history of human sorrow this was possible. Mary would have been satisfied if she had found the corpse of Jesus: what shall she say when even more than the former Jesus appears? From the sense of absolute loss she passes to the sense of full possession. And yet, great as the joy was, it was not the greatest of joys, seeing it was only a revelation to the senses. This would not be Mary's last experience of weeping. Though risen from the dead, Jesus was about to vanish, so that the life in him might be manifested in another way. Mary had yet to win her way to the sober, steady gladness of the Christian's hope.

III. THE QUESTION IS ONE TO ALL WEEPERS. Many besides Mary have groaned over troubles of their own imagining. Many besides Mary have groaned over one thing, when they should have been groaning over something quite different. The feeling will not bear to be analyzed to its depths, and traced out to all its causes. Jesus can do little for weepers till they weep for the right things and in the right way. Oftentimes the right question would be, "Why are you not weeping?" We are glad when we ought to be sorry, and satisfied when we ought to be anxious. We may have had a very great deal of trouble, and yet all the time our cares have never gone deeper than our outward circumstances. It is hard to satisfy us in some ways, but very, very easy in others. Jesus will never complain that we are troubled about common losses and disappointments. Not to be troubled about these would only argue inhuman want of sensibility. But we should also be troubled because of our weakness towards everything that would make us Christ-like and well-pleasing to God. We need not bemoan the loss of an outward Jesus, a visible Jesus, a Jesus after the flesh; such a Jesus could do us little good. We want a Jesus within, blending with the life and making himself felt everywhere. - Y.







Jesus saith unto her, Mary.
: — No one ever used human language so eloquently as Jesus. Men have spoken with such arguments, rhetoric and passion, as to convince and move multitudes. But no one save Jesus could by simply saying, "Follow Me," draw any one from his trade, his home, and bind him in life-long devotion. What power in the look He, a helpless prisoner, cast upon His renegade disciple! But I suppose that this word "Mary" surpassed all others —

1. In what it revealed of Himself. Those lips were endowed with a new power, as there had passed upon them the change which had glorified His resurrection body. These bodies, as organs through which our souls express themselves, are like poor untuned instruments upon which one would play. It is only by study of the art and long practice that the most skilful can make them reproduce what is in the depths of the heart. But Christ's resurrection body was perfectly adapted to express all the emotions of His spirit. All the sentiment of His soul was doubtless put into the manner and tone with which He spake that word "Mary." There must have been a world of revelation and love in it; the infinite thought filling and flowing out from the human word more than the electric light radiates from the bulb of glass which encloses the spark.

2. Because of His choice of an auditor. The import of the occasion was so great, the moment when life and immorality were brought to light, that the earth might well have been assembled while the heavens bowed down to hear the first word of the risen Son of God. But Jesus chooses one auditor. And who is it? A king? A high priest? A prophet with intellect inspired to comprehend the grandeur of His tidings? No; but a simple woman. And why? Because she loved the Saviour most. Very deep the lesson we are to learn from this, that not to the most serviceable even, nor to the most spiritually learned, not to those who were appointed to the highest dignities in the Church by His own designation, the holy apostles, but to her who loved Him most, gave He the most resplendent honour of all. The blessing of Christ will most enwrap us as we come closest to Him. You will learn most of His truth as you give yourself up to feel His affection.

I. WHAT IS THAT WORD WHICH OUR LORD CHOOSES THROUGH WHICH TO REVEAL HIMSELF? There was one word so immense in its meaning, so sacred, that the few would not venture even to pronounce it. How appropriate if those lips which are henceforth to pronounce from the throne of heaven the mandates of the universe had uttered that word in tones of thunder, "I am God!" It would have been in keeping with the guard of angels and the magnitude of the event. But Jesus saith unto her, Mary. He called her name. His sense of His divinity and dominion is no greater than His love and sympathy for one sorrowing human being. "I have called thee by name," said God to the Old Testament people. Our Saviour emphasizes very beautifully the same truth. "He called His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out." We cannot lose ourselves in the multitude of the world so as to escape His eye, nor in the multitude of His saints so as to have only a part of His gracious care.

II. MARY RECOGNIZED, NOT ONLY HER OWN NAME, BUT THE VOICE THAT UTTERED IT. At first she did not see that it was Jesus. But the voice penetrated both Jesus' disguise and her own blindness. That expressed more than the mere presence did. The call which He makes to the heart is beyond all the external evidence for His divinity and presence. A man may through ignorance be unable to answer infidel objections, and yet be unshaken because of the impression Christ has wrought upon his inner experience. What argument could have robbed the dying Wesley of the confidence he uttered, "God is with me"? How that word "Mary" stirred the recollection of the disciple! He said it doubtless just as He used to say it. The word recalled His casting out the seven devils. Such the fulness with which our Saviour's call to us to-day is laden. It is a reminder of what He has always been to us. His watch over you began long ago. For you He died as truly as for Mary. And His providence and Spirit have hovered over you like the two wings of a mighty angel shadowing you as you have moved down the path of life. Do you remember what He was to you in the hour of your conversion? in the hour of sorrow? Try to think what you would be now had not His goodness kept or guided you. You were never such a friend to yourself as this unseen, mysterious companion has been to you. And as He calls each of us by name — the name mother's voice so fondly called in our childhood — the name by which dear ones will try in vain to call us back for one moment's recognition as our souls disappear through the death shades — He condenses into it all the love and good of past years. Our life-long, tried, infinite Friend calls us again.

III. But it was not merely an old-time greeting Mary received. IT WAS A NEW AND MEASURELESS BENEDICTION. That salutation made real to her all she had ever dared to hope. With the other disciples she did once fondly dream that He who gave life to others would Himself always live. But how terrible the disappointment? But now her wildest dream is surpassed by the reality. Oh! if we could only realize what Christ means by His salutation to-day! Mass all the longings of your heart; they are nothing to be compared with the reality.

(J. M. Ludlow, D. D.)

The voice is an instrument more delicate than the finest organ or harp, and capable of expressing emotions more manifold and spiritual than these. The soul within is a player of marvellous subtlety that can so handle this Divine instrument as to translate into articulate sounds (of talk or music), and sometimes into a word, the thousand and one emotions of which the spirit is susceptible. Only one other phenomenon rivals these in strangeness, viz., the capacity which belongs to the intelligence that sits behind the ears of interpreting, with a speed surpassing thought and an accuracy excluding mistake, the thoughts and feelings that another has impressed upon these waves of sound. When Mary, wrapped in sorrow, heard the old voice speak, caught the undefinable "something" that made that voice stand out from all others as pre-eminently dear to her heart, she comprehended the situation without further remark. No voice but one could say "Mary" like that.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

She turned herself. — We know from ver. 14 that Mary had already turned once from the grave when Jesus appeared behind her. Here again she "turned herself." Not recognizing the person who spoke to her, and thinking He had been the gardener, she partially turned away, as a woman naturally would from a strange man, and hardly looked at Him, while she spoke of taking the body away. But the moment the voice of Jesus sounded in her ears, she turned again directly to Him, and made some movement towards Him. says, "It seems to me that after having said, 'Where hast thou laid Him?' she turned to the angels to ask why they were astonished; and that then Christ, by calling her by name, turned her back to Himself from them, and revealed Himself by His voice."

(Bp. Ryle.)

And saith unto Him, Rabboni. — This title existed in Jewish schools under a threefold form: Rab, master, the lowest degree of honour; Rabbi, my master, of higher dignity; Rabboni, my great master, the most honourable of all, publicly given to only seven persons, all of the school of Hillel, and of great eminence.

(C. S. Robinson.)

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