Life is full of surprises, some good, some not so good. Maybe you have had a surprise birthday party. That is a good surprise. One day I was walking in my neighborhood and looked down to find a twenty dollar bill in the street. Wow, that was a great surprise. I remember one Christmas when I opened one of my gifts and found a pair of pajamas when I was expecting a skateboard! Not a good surprise!
Sometimes what you thought was a not-so-good surprise turns out to be the most wonderful surprise you could imagine. That is what happened to a Mary Magdalene in our Bible lesson today.
Jesus had been crucified on Friday and placed in a tomb. Early the following Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to visit the tomb and found that the stone was rolled aside from the entrance. She was surprised and upset. She ran and found Simon Peter and another of Jesus' followers. "They have taken our Lord's body from the tomb and I don't know where they have taken it!"
Peter and the other disciple left immediately and went to the tomb. The other disciple arrived first and stooped down and looked in the tomb. All he saw were pieces of cloth lying there. Next, Peter arrived and entered the tomb. Sure enough, Jesus was not in the tomb.
Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she looked inside the tomb and way two angels sitting there dressed in white, one at the head and the other at the foot of where Jesus' body had been laid. They asked her, "Woman, why do you weep?"
"Someone has taken my Master," she said, "and I don't know where they put him." After she said this, she turned and say Jesus standing there, but she did not recognize him.
Jesus spoke to her, "Woman why do you weep? Who are you looking for?"
Thinking he was a gardener, Mary said to him, "Sir, if you took him, tell me where you have put him so that I can care for him."
Jesus said to her, "Mary."
When she heard Jesus call her name, she turned to him and said to him, "Rabboni!" That means Teacher in Hebrew.
Jesus then said to Mary, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go and tell my brothers that I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." So Mary went and told the disciples that she had seen Jesus and told them all that Jesus had told her.
When Mary found the empty tomb, she was surprised, but not happy, thinking that his body had been stolen. When Mary saw Jesus, she was surprised and happy to learn that he was alive. Yes, life is full of surprises.
Our Father, we are thankful for this glorious celebration of Jesus our Lord and Savior. We are not surprised that the tomb was empty, for he has risen, just as he said he would. In his name we pray. Amen.