Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.
“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. “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”).
“Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” John 20:11-17
Jesus had a unique way of turning our world upside down. He never did things according to the book. He had little regard for our expectations of how things should be. The crowds who flocked to Jesus were hopeful He was “the one.” This man from Bethlehem was going to overthrow the oppressive Roman government and lead them towards freedom. Jesus had different plans. Yes, they involved freeing those who found themselves imprisoned, but He died to overthrow the power sin had on their lives. The crowd desired insurrection while Jesus focused on a resurrection.
This explains His seemingly odd comment to Mary outside of the tomb. There was no possible way to go back to the way things once were. He had conquered death so we might live — the old system replaced by something new…..something vastly better. Why revert to a system of self-performance that could never meet the requirements for the life we desired?
What God has done through Jesus is what allows us to both be forgiven and therefore free to forgive. His death brought us life. We have a built-in longing to make things right, and for this very reason, we gravitate towards forgiveness. In our minds, we believe forgiveness can pave the way to how things were before the offense occurred. However, no matter how hard we try, things are never going back to the way it once was.
Forgiveness requires death. For forgiveness to be felt, something has to die. To see God’s way, our way has to die. God’s way is the way of resurrection. Letting go of events, relationships, hopes, and dreams that we grasped onto so tightly is no easy task. Unforgiveness has the power to shape our perspective, influence our words and actions, and define our identity. The process of forgiveness means our pride, bitterness, anger, and entitlement have to die as well.
As we loosen our grip, we must trust that God is up to something we are incapable of doing on our own. God takes the bad things that occur in our lives and redeem them for His good purposes. In God’s economy, death is not the end, but a way of resurrection. We have been created to live a resurrected life and called to live in relationships that are fueled by forgiveness.
In what broken relationship are you clinging to the hope that it will return to the way it was before the offense occurred?
What causes you to hesitate in letting go of the hope that things will return to the way they once were?
What has to die so you can experience a resurrection in this relationship?
God, when I encountered Your love, my world turned upside down. It is hard to fathom the amount of love and grace that You lavished upon me. May I remind myself of Your great love when I hold on to past hurt and pain. Rather than restoration, I will trust in redemption. Things will never return to how they once were before the wounds, but that is okay. You can bring beauty out of the ashes. May You be glorified by my response to forgive as I’ve been forgiven. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.