John 20:1-18 The Passion Translation
Very early Sunday morning, before sunrise, Mary Magdalene made her way to the tomb. And when she arrived she discovered that the stone that sealed the entrance to the tomb was moved away! 2 So she went running as fast as she could to go tell Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. She told them, “They’ve taken the Lord’s body from the tomb, and we don’t know where He is!”
3 Then Peter and the other disciple jumped up and ran to the tomb to go see for themselves. 4 They started out together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He didn’t enter the tomb, but peeked in, and saw only the linen cloths lying there. 6 Then Peter came behind him and went right into the tomb. He too noticed the linen cloths lying there, 7 but the burial cloth that had been on Jesus’ head had been rolled up and placed separate from the other cloths.
8 Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first went in, and after one look, he believed! 9 For until then they hadn’t understood the Scriptures that prophesied that He was destined to rise from the dead. 10 Puzzled, Peter and the other disciple then left and went back to their homes.
11 Mary arrived back at the tomb, broken and sobbing. She stooped to peer inside, and through her tears 12 she saw two angels in dazzling white robes, sitting where Jesus’ body had been laid—one at the head and one at the feet!
13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” they asked.
Mary answered, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve laid him.”
14 Then she turned around to leave, and there was Jesus standing in front of her, but she didn’t realize that it was Him!
15 He said to her, “Dear woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”
Mary answered, thinking He was only the gardener, “Sir, if you have taken His body somewhere else, tell me, and I will go and . . .”
16 “Mary,” Jesus interrupted her.
Turning to face Him, she said, “Rabboni!” (Aramaic for “my teacher”)
17 Jesus cautioned her, “Mary, don’t hold on to Me now, for I haven’t yet ascended to God, My Father. And He’s not only My Father and God, but now He’s your Father and your God! Now go to My brothers and tell them what I’ve told you, that I am ascending to My Father—and your Father, to My God—and your God!”
18 Then Mary Magdalene left to inform the disciples of her encounter with Jesus. “I have seen the Lord!” she told them. And she gave them His message.
“My name is Mary Magdalene, and I’m here to give testimony to the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth,” I said to the court of men standing before me.
One of the court cleared his throat and said crisply, “It’s not customary for the court to allow a woman to stand before us. You must understand that your testimony is not considered valid in accordance with the law.”
“My testimony is true, and you need to hear what I have to say.”
The fact that I am standing before you is testimony in itself, for when Jesus found me, I suffered from sickness and seven demons. I had no family left. I lived alone in my house, except for the seven demons—my captors within me.
Without anyone to save me, I retreated deeper and deeper into myself. And while the darkness inside me promised escape from the suffering, I knew that one day soon I would not be able to return from that darkness. It would devour me. And no one would notice; no one would mourn.
The day I met Jesus, I was walking along a side alley, which suddenly entered into a crowd of people listening to Him. His words were like water. Sweet water to some, that quenched their souls and bitter water to others, which they spit out onto the ground before them. I meant to turn and walk away, but my eyes found their focus on this man Jesus and I could not look away. And then He looked at me, and He saw me even though my head cover was pulled down low over my eyes. He saw through the cloud of darkness, surrounding me. Shame screamed inside my head and jerked my eyes away.
It took all my strength to look up again towards Jesus. He had bridged the distance between us and now stood before me. He smiled and asked, “Do you want to be free?”
“Oh yes, truly, I want to be free,” I said in a quiet voice for an unseen hand was clenched around my throat.
Jesus commanded the demons to leave. I fell to the ground and then I was free. The demons and the darkness were gone. I was healed of my sickness!
I followed Jesus, from that day on. Mary, the mother of Jesus, took me under her wing and loved me like a daughter. The other women became my sisters and my friends. I bloomed like flowers in a desert quenched by the gentle rain that was the love and acceptance I received from Jesus and His followers. I was transformed.
I witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion. I stayed until the soldiers took His body down. I was there when Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. They took His body and wrapped Him in spices and linen and placed Him in the tomb Joseph had bought. A large and heavy stone was rolled across the entrance of the grave. Because it was Passover, we all went home. Two Roman soldiers guarded the tomb.
On the first day of the week, I returned to the tomb, and immediately I knew something was wrong. The stone was rolled away from the entrance of the tomb. The Roman guards were gone. “NO, NO, NO!” I moaned. “They took His body!”
I ran, sobbing, to find the disciples. I told them what I had seen, but they did not believe me. Only Peter and John went to the tomb with me and confirmed my fear. Jesus’ body was gone. They returned home but I stayed. I looked inside the tomb and then I saw two angels dressed in dazzling bright, seated where Jesus’ body should have been.
They asked me why I was crying. I told them, “They took away my Lord and I don’t know where to find Him.” I cannot be certain but I think the angels smiled, looking past me.
I turned and there was a man I didn’t recognize. I assumed the gardener. He asked me why I was crying and who was I looking for.
By this time I was desperate. I begged the man, “Please! If you took Him away, tell me where you put Him. I must find Him. I need to find Jesus! Please!”
“Mary.” I knew that voice. I looked up. I wiped away my tears so I could see clearly and even then I could not believe my eyes. It was Jesus—my dear Jesus. Alive, standing before me!
“Teacher” I cried and I threw my arms around Him. He laughed out loud. “Mary, you’ve got to let go of Me. I need to return to My Father. But know this, He is not just My Father; He’s your Father too. He is My God and your God! Go and tell your brothers what I’ve just said.”
And then He was gone. I ran once again back to the disciples, laughing and crying. When finally I could contain myself, I exclaimed, “I have seen the Lord!” I told them everything Jesus had said
Jesus appeared to me first that day, and then appeared several more times to all the disciples and to others, but you already have their testimony. Before He returned to heaven He commissioned us all to go and preach the good news of the kingdom of God to all the world. He will one day return and restore all things to Himself.
Jesus knew He was going to suffer and die. And He knew He would rise again. His Father in heaven told Him so. And He tried to tell us, but we could not understand at the time. He knew that His body would be broken and His blood poured out for the forgiveness of the sins of us all, and to begin a new covenant with God and mankind. It was the reason He came. Through His death and resurrection, He is the way to the Father.
“My name is Mary Magdalene, and I’m here to give testimony to the life and death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God.”
Dear Jesus. I have also been transformed by Your love and Your resurrection power. You conquered death and overcame the grave so that I too could pass from death to life. You have rescued me from the kingdom of darkness and brought me into Your kingdom of light and love. Give me the grace and power to live for you so that I, too, may give testimony to the life and death and resurrection of You, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and that I may proclaim to the world around me that You are my Savior, my Deliverer, my Healer and my Lord.