The Lens of Tears

The Lens of Tears

“Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes. But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him,  “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).” (John 20: 8-16)

What, Why and Who
The disciples went away to their own homes, but Mary stood outside tomb weeping. We don’t have a film of the scene, but as far as we can imagine from the text, Mary had gone to tell Peter and John that Jesus’s body wasn’t there; Peter and John ran ahead to the tomb to see what had happened, and Mary went back to the tomb with them. We know that John outran Peter, and it seems like they both outran Mary – although since she had run to find them there is nothing to suggest that she ambled back. We don’t know how far they had come or if the men were still in the tomb when Mary arrived, but I think we are safe to assume that they are all within roughly the same time-frame, and there are some things that we do know about the three (human) characters in this scene: Peter and John both saw what had happened and left again, and John not only saw that Jesus had gone, but “believed” –  not just believed that He really had risen from the dead, but presumably believed in Him as the Son of God. And we know that Mary was weeping. Peter saw and recognised what had happened; John saw what had happened and understood why; but Mary was weeping because of who it had happened to. “They have taken away my Lord!” she cried through her tears.

They had taken away her Lord. She said this to two angels sitting by the graveclothes of Christ. Was she so distraught that she didn’t realise that they were angels, or was she so distraught that she didn’t care? Again, we don’t know; but what we do know is that she saw them, and the two men didn’t. Why were they there? Again, we don’t have an answer to that because we don’t need one, but it isn’t wild speculation to assume that the angels had also been there when Peter and John came into the tomb: they had probably been there ever since the dead body of Jesus had been brought in. Mary saw them, then she turned round and saw Jesus.

The Lens of Tears
Mary was weeping because she loved Jesus, and now her last remaining contact with Him, His dead body, had gone. She was crying over her lost relationship with Jesus, and not even the sight of the angels impacted the emotions in her heart. I believe that she saw the angels because she was seeking Jesus with a heart full of love that had just burst: “Where is my Lord?” was her one thought. She was looking through a lens of tears, and through that lens it was Mary who saw the angels that the two men missed, and not only did she see the angels, but when she turned round she saw the Lord she was seeking.

I have never knowingly seen an angel, although I know people who have, including Anne. I would love to, as I would love to see more supernatural manifestations of any sort. But I think this passage may give us a clue as to why perhaps many of us don’t see as much as we would like to in the Spiritual realm. Maybe, like Peter and John in this passage, we accept it too easily and just “go back to our own homes” when the person of Jesus isn’t a reality in our lives, instead of being more like Mary, who stayed by the tomb and broke her heart because He wasn’t there.

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