“Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”
She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
“Mary!” Jesus said.
She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).
All Jesus said to her was her name, and yet she immediately recognized who he was. It must have been the intonation, and of course, we don’t know what that was.
“Mary!!” (what do you mean you don’t recognize me! I’m standing right here!)
“Mary?” (don’t you recognize me?)
“Mary.” (Look up and see who I am)
“Mary…” (I’ve come to meet you because I know how much you love me and hurt because of what has just happened.)
I personally think it was the last one. Why? Because of what Jesus says next, “I have not yet ascended to my Father.”
Why ever not? His Father had just raised him from the dead! What was he waiting for? I think he was waiting to see Mary Magdalen. She must have loved Jesus very deeply. He had completely changed her life and those who are forgiven much, love much. The previous two days had been her worst nightmare. Her beloved, gentle, kind, loving teacher had been brutalized and cruelly murdered. She had seen the spear pierce his side. There was no doubt he was dead. He had been in the tomb for more than 36 hours. And now he was gone and she was devastated. Where could she go? She wanted to stay here near where he had been, weeping. All was lost.
But then she hears her name. That familiar voice; that gentle, loving intonation that said, I understand how you feel, but I’m here now. All is well. I haven’t ascended to my Father because I knew you would be here, and I wanted to come to comfort you. I waited for you to be alone so we could talk. I don’t want your pain to continue any longer than necessary because I love you and value you. Now, while I go to see my Father, please go to tell the others the good news. And don’t worry, I’ll see you again soon.
Those tears of grief turned to tears of joy, relief, amazement. Death was conquered. Her beloved was no longer dead, but very much alive, more alive than any of us have ever been.
He calls my name, your name, so we can also hear his words of comfort and victory.