Two Angels and a Sword

Tuesday within the Octave of Easter

John 20:11-18 

“Woman, why are you weeping?”

Two angels and the Lord Jesus Christ asked the same question in a garden. The scene recalls the first garden at the moment of exile: two angels, a fiery revolving sword guarding the way to the tree of life, and a weeping Eve (Genesis 3:24). In the garden of the tomb, Mary Magdalene is found weeping before two angels sitting at the head and foot of the space made vacant by the risen Christ—the Word of God who is sharper than a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). In the garden of Eden, God looked for Adam and Eve who went into hiding. In the garden of the resurrection, the hidden God is sought after by the heartbroken daughter of Eve. 

Jesus’ body must have been stolen, Mary thought. Perhaps the gardener took it. 

Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher.

John 20:16

At the sound of her name, Mary’s eyes were opened and she recognized Jesus, the tree of life in the midst of the garden. Overwhelmed and astonished with joy, she proceeded to resume her earthly relationship with Jesus, not realizing that the risen Christ had entered into a new condition and manner of relating to humankind. 

Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.

John 20:17a

The work of the local Christ would soon give way to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The mission of the Son does not terminate in himself, but in the Father through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

John 20:17b

Jesus had said during his earthly ministry, “Whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:50). On this first apostolic assignment, Mary Magdalene is sent forth to gather Jesus’ family together in his Father’s name. By Pentecost, the band of frightened and doubting disciples will finally receive a fiery infusion of the Spirit to spread the good news from the empty tomb to the ends of the earth.

-GMC

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