Mourning Turns to Joy!


In the early hours of February 28, 1990, our phone rang. My husband and I were being called to the hospital; my father-in-law was dying. My brother-in-law met us at the hospital room door and delivered the horrible news: Buddy’s dad was gone. For the next few hours we sat together in the hospital, alternately crying and laughing as we recounted Bill Dunn stories. As the sun rose and the time came for us to leave, we gathered around his  body to say goodbye. I’ll never forget my mother-in-law’s words as she tenderly held her husband’s hand: “I know his spirit is gone, but his is such a sweet body.”

In today’s passage, Jesus has died and Mary Magdalene travels in the dark, early morning hours to care for Jesus’ body.

  • Think about the most difficult time in your life. What range of emotions did you feel during that time?


20:1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


(Today’s questions focus on verses 10-18. Verses 1-9 were covered in a previous study.)

  1. Describe Mary’s physical and emotional state as she arrived at the tomb. What question was asked twice of Mary, once by the angel and once by Jesus?
  2. What physical and emotional darkness would explain why Mary didn’t immediately recognize Jesus? What made Mary realize Jesus was standing with her?
  3. What assignment did Jesus give to Mary?
  4. What situational or emotional darkness is currently obscuring your view of Jesus?
  5. What are specific ways you can cling to Jesus in sad or hard times, while moving forward in a life that proclaims that Jesus is alive?


What longing, what pain, what devotion drove Mary to Jesus’ tomb so in early in the morning? She walked and wept, slowly moving toward the tomb in the dark. And when she arrived, she suffered the final blow—Jesus’ body was gone! Then Mary, unable to see because of the darkness of the tomb and the darkness of her soul, heard her shepherd call her name. Her sorrow turned immediately into joy—Jesus was alive!

Is Jesus standing right beside you, and all you see is the gardener? Listen for the voice of Jesus; he is calling your name. Go in confidence that Christ is alive and proclaim, “I have seen the Lord!”

  • Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice (Philippians 4:4)! Jesus is alive!