Sunday, April 19, 2009


But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?"Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). - John 20:11-16
This Easter story, where Mary Magdalene exclaims "Rabboni!" has been one of my favorite Resurrection stories for a long time. I remember hearing this story read when my family would go to Easter sunrise services early in the morning on the banks of the Lewis River. I think what strikes me about this story is the almost palpable emotion of Mary who is at first described as weeping. I always imagined it being dark and Mary having tears in her eyes when she turned and failed at first to recognize her Lord. But Jesus calls her by name and Mary's one word reply of "Rabboni" is a single word of Scripture which has always affected me greatly.

I like what Calvin has to say in his commentary on the passage. On Jesus calling Mary by name Calvin writes, "That voice of the Shepherd, therefore, enters into Mary's heart, opens her eyes, arouses all her senses, and affects her in such a manner, that she immediately surrenders herself to Christ." On Mary's reply to Jesus, Calvin writes, "The efficacy of the address [Rabboni] is evident from this circumstance, that Mary immediately renders to Christ the honor which is due to him; for the word Rabboni is not only respectful, but involves a profession of obedience. Mary therefore declares, that she is a disciple of Christ, and submits to him as her Master. This is a secret and wonderful change effected on the human understanding, when God, enlightening her by his Spirit, renders her clear-sighted, who formerly was slow of apprehension, and, indeed, altogether blind. Besides, the example of Mary ought to serve the purpose of exhortation, that all whom Christ invites to himself may reply to him without delay."

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