The early hours of that first Easter morning found people in various conditions.
Most of Jerusalem slept soundly, while their religious leaders may have had satisfied smiles on their faces. But fear, shock, and confusion permeated the hearts of the Lord’s disciples. They were stupefied and in mourning because of His death. None of them believed in His resurrection.
And while they all mourned, John reported the dedicated weeping of Mary Magdalene. And why not? It could be argued that Jesus had done more for her than for the others. Not only was He her Friend, Jesus had also rescued her from a life of slavery to the seven demons that He had cast out of her. The Lord had restored her from a life of shame and helplessness to a whole and healthy life. No wonder Mary loved the Lord very much. We can understand why she wept almost uncontrollably. Not only did she think her Lord was still dead, but also that His body had been stolen by grave robbers.
This fear, mourning, and unbelief should not have existed in them.
Jesus had promised and foretold His resurrection on the third day. He then personally rebuked two as being foolish and “slow of heart to believe” (Luke 24:25).
And to Mary He asked the pointed question, “Why are you weeping?” All of them should have been joyous with resurrection faith, but they were not.
Surely there is a proper “time to weep and a time to laugh” (Ecclesiastes 3:4) with joy. Weeping over our sin and beneath His cross—appropriate. And if, as St. Paul argued, Christ is NOT risen, then is the time for some serious, dedicated weeping–for then our faith is futile, and we are yet in our sins. Then our present and future states are hopeless and dreadful.
But the prophets, Jesus, the angels, the historical record, and the report of countless eyewitnesses testify to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. That has resounding implications. It opens up a treasure chest of blessings and promises, sparkling as precious jewels—the brightest of which are redemption, forgiveness of sins, reconciliation, life, and eternal salvation.
Therefore the entirely appropriate question for us today is: Why are you weeping?
Why are you weeping–over death? Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life…” (John 11:25); “…Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). And if we are bereaved over the death of a loved one, even as Jesus once wept over Lazarus, surely we do not weep for long nor do we “sorrow as others who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Surely not!
Why are you weeping–because of trials? Do you not know that when we pass through the water, God is with us (Isaiah 43:1)? Do you not yet understand our trials are comparatively light and of short duration (2 Corinthians 4:17), and that we simply cannot compare our present sufferings “with the glory that shall be revealed in us” in heaven (Romans 8:18)?
Why are you weeping–over loneliness? Surely Jesus promised: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23). “…I am with you always”
Why are you weeping–because of fear? Then say and believe with David: “This I know, God is for me… Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You” (Psalm 56: 9,3). “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).
Why are you weeping–over failure, need, disappointment, sickness, discipline, anything? Reach into the resurrection treasure chest and consider God’s stupendous, all-encompassing promise “that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).
When Jesus asked Mary, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Mary gave a weeping answer. But when He said, “Mary,” her weeping ceased. Her Master had called her by name. Her risen Savior was saying, “I love you…I am here…It’s all right.”
“Beauty for ashes…the oil of joy for mourning…the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:3). Of such the prophets had spoken. Of such the Savior gives to us by faith in the power of His death and resurrection.
Let us respond with love for the Lord, for He has declared: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name. You are Mine” (Isaiah 43:1)!
Christ is risen! He lives, never again to die! Surely this has meaning! Surely, this is the time to put away weeping and to laugh with joy inexpressible.