Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven. (N.T. Wright)
Thinking he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabbouni” (which means Teacher). (John 20:15-16; context)
Today is day two of our celebration of the Resurrection, in which we are looking at the words Jesus says following being raised from the dead. Yesterday, Jesus asked Mary Magdalene two questions. She thinks he is the gardener, so she accuses him of stealing Jesus’ body. Something blinds Mary from seeing Jesus for who he is – grief, fear, expectations that are too small?
But then Jesus says the all-important word: “Mary.” And she turns and her sadness vanishes in an instant of delight. And new hope, new life surges in to fill the void. “Teacher!” she shouts, and I imagine her jumping into his arms. Then Jesus gives her a task – to be the first to proclaim his resurrection.
So why does Jesus saying her name change the story? Why is this the pivotal word? Saying Mary’s name proves Jesus’ relationship with Mary. Her name is the outward sign of her inward identity. In this way, names are quite sacramental. Know a name and you know something of the person. Who among us didn’t feel elation when we found out our high school crush did, in fact, know our names?
Saying Mary’s name is Jesus’ shorthand for saying that he has returned just as he promised and that life would never be the same again because their relationship would never end. This is the good news of the resurrection: Christ rose from the dead to show us that nothing, not even death, has the power to keep him from remaining in relationship with us. Christ knows each of our names. They are written in the book of life. They are written on his heart, just as his name is written on ours. As Jesus called Mary to deeper relationship by saying her name, he calls to each of us. He calls to each of us, speaking our names, and thus ourselves, into being.
Dear God, you knew me while I was still in my mother’s womb; before my own parents even knew my name, you were speaking it, and thus speaking me into being. Help me to draw closer in my relationship with you, that I may hear you calling my name every day of my life. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
I leave this moment with you, God, rejoicing that you raised your Son from the dead and showed me that nothing in all of creation can separate me from your love.
One thought on “Saying Your Name (April 17, 2012)”
I like this. Thank you,.