It’s an experience common to all of us. We pass someone while we’re out and about and immediately know we’ve seen them somewhere before. In fact, we know them fairly well but simply can’t place them. It isn’t until we’re back home relaxing in our favorite chair or perhaps tucked into bed and just beginning to fall asleep when we remember. Of course, she’s one of the cashiers at our local grocery store. We didn’t recognize her out of her normal setting and weren’t expecting to see her.
Mary Magdalene knew Jesus well. He had miraculously cast seven demons out of her. One can only imagine what her life had been like before this miraculous encounter. It so changed her that she became a follower of Jesus - going where He went and supporting His ministry in every way.
She stood with Jesus’ mother and the other women at the foot of the cross that terrible day Jesus was crucified. She watched as they took His lifeless body down from the cross and carried it to the tomb for burial.
Three days later, Mary had an encounter with the risen Jesus. She stood outside the tomb weeping, after telling the disciples about Jesus’ body being taken and encountering two angels (quite a miraculous event on its own). When Jesus approached her and asked who she was looking for, she thought He was the gardener.
It may seem hard to believe she didn’t know who He was after having spent so much time with Him. Perhaps He looked very different in His resurrection body. I don’t know. What I do know is, she believed Jesus was dead. She had seen Him die and thought she would never see Him again in her lifetime. It wasn’t until He spoke her name that she knew who He was.
I wonder if the same could be true of us - especially in this strange time we’re going through right now. Our hours and days begin to run together in a certain sameness. The few people we see, the limited places we go, the monotony of doing the same things over and over again may cause us to miss the fact that Jesus is right here with us.
He’s here in the laugh of a child, the touch of a loved one, the voice at the other end of the line. He’s here when we feel hopeless and afraid, listening to the cry of our hearts. He’s here when we wonder how this will all end with the assurance that He will never leave us. He weeps when we weep and comforts as only He can. He delights in us - even on our bad days.
“For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
Look closely, friends, Jesus is standing beside you.