Perfect Presence - 21 April 2020

By Louise Gevers

Then she turned around and saw Jesus standing there; but she did not know that it was Jesus. “Woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who is it that you’re looking for?” She thought he was the gardener, so she said to him, “If you took him away, sir, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”Jesus said to her, “Mary!”She turned toward him and said in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (This means ‘Teacher’.) John 20:14-16

A garden is a good place to meet Jesus. Its peace and beauty, especially in the serenity of the early morning, can soothe and comfort a troubled spirit, especially in times of stress when life is filled with anxiety and pain. Meeting Jesus in this garden was not what Mary Magdalene’s troubled mind considered possible, however, early on the morning of resurrection as she hurried with spices to His tomb.

She was still consumed by grief after the horror of watching Jesus die a slow, cruel death, and felt numb from her pain. She had left the horrific scene distraught and dejected, depleted of comfort and strength. Meeting Jesus had transformed her life; He had set her free and made whole again; but now He was gone. This morning, she wanted to anoint His body and perform her last act of gratitude and love.

Arriving at the tomb, finding the stone rolled away, Mary’s tears welled up again; Jesus’ body had been removed. His words, “He must be killed and on the third day raised to life” (Luke 9:22) did not enter her consciousness. Surely the presence of two angels would indicate something wonderful? Mary seemed hardly to notice that they were angels. Her distress blinded her to the truth and she even mistook Jesus, standing there, for the gardener!

But everything changed when she heard Jesus call her name. Sometimes, like Mary, we realise that we need to find Jesus, but our circumstances overwhelm and blind us and we have a crisis of faith even though He is, in fact, already with us. Jesus knows our needs, as He knew Mary’s, and comes to us where we are, just as He came to her, in His risen state.

If we do not know Jesus, we may look into the empty tomb, perhaps see the angels and know deep down that what Jesus said would happen is the truth, but we’re on the outside looking in. Just knowing about the truth does not touch us, we need an encounter with Jesus, like Mary, for Him to open our eyes. Have we had that encounter?

The garden is a beautiful place to meet Jesus. Are we ready to hear His voice call our name?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, please help us when we are overwhelmed by our circumstances and consumed by our pain. Deal with our crises of faith. Give me eyes of faith to see Your Presence in my life and hear You calling me. Amen