John 20: 10-18
Why are you crying?
The title of this message ‘why are you crying’, reflects our every day mood especially as we are committed to face all kinds of challenges through life. Some of these challenges may so heart breaking that we want to hide in our little corners and cry! But in the context of John 20:10-18, It is a post-resurrection question, which was first asked by the angels and then by the risen Christ to Mary Magdalene on that first Easter morning at Jesus’s graveside. Mary had come to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus and when she failed to find it, she concluded that some unknown persons might have taken it away and so she burst into tears, crying!
But why was Mary crying? May be because she had observed the brutality with which Jesus had been handled and then crucified, or because she had been denied the opportunity to pay her last respect to the body of Jesus. She wept because she feared that the grave rubbers might have done some sacrilege to the sacred body of Jesus, she wept because she was alone! Above all else, I think Mary wept because she thought she had lost the only man who had ever truly understood and loved her, the Saviour who had delivered her from bondage and given her a new life. She wept because she couldn’t face the future without this Almighty Saviour, the light had gone out of her life and she was in deep darkness of grief and even of despair. But of course, Jesus had not left her as she thought! Jesus had risen, he was there by her very side, and if only she knew who it was then her tears would quickly have been dried.
Now I don’t know why you may be crying even as you read this message, I wonder if some of us may see ourselves in Mary Magdalene! Surely there is a great deal to weep about in this dark world! Think of the massive destruction in terms of property and human live that is going on in parts of the world: The brutal killings of human beings by so called Islamic state fanatics in the Middle East and the boko haram insurgence in West Africa. Think of the recent Xenophobic attacks in South Africa, the drowning of desperate Africans in the Mediterranean travelling to Europe in quest of the golden fleece! Think of natural disasters like the Ebola virus and the recent earthquake in Nepal, the emaciated bodies of people in parts of the world who are suffering from poverty and malnutrition, no doubt we cry!
But some of us may be crying because of our past, our failures, and our sense of shame over what we have been and done, our guilt. And there are biblical suggestions for us to weep over our sense of sin and shame (James 4:9-11). But our grief over sin also touches the heart of our heavenly father and attracts his compassion over us! Charles Spurgeon would have been right when he commented that:
A child’s cry touches a father’s heart, and our King is the father of his people. If we can do no more than cry it will bring omnipotence to our aid. A cry is the native language of a spiritually needy soul, it has done with fine phrases and long orations, and it takes to sobs and moans, and so, indeed, it grasps the most potent of all weapons, for heaven always yields to such artillery.
May be some of us are weeping over our savage temptations and heavy responsibilities, or maybe it is our fears and anxieties about the unknown future that makes us want to cry! No doubt we weep and we shall go on weeping until the risen Lord says to us, why are you weeping, stop weeping, there is no need to weep, be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid!
What I personally learn from Mary’s encounter with the risen Christ is that Christianity is a personal relationship with Christ. Without a personal relationship with Christ, we go on our way weeping through life and nothing could dry our tears if he was dead and gone and never risen. So let us try to develop this special relationship with our Lord by studying the word of God daily and seeking to know Christ more closely, so that we can shout with Thomas, ‘my lord and my God’!
May God lead us peacefully throughout this month and let us hear the echo of his voice in our different situations, woman, man why are you crying’. Oh stop crying because he is alive and standing beside you!
Rev Amos Bongadu Chewachong
Charles H. Spurgeon, The Treasure of David: Spurgeon’s Classic Work on the Psalms, (edited) by David O. Fuller, 2004.