Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in.
Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other 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." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?"
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 Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher).
Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
YOU DID THIS FOR ME?
I want to tell you of a man. This man deserves our compassion. When you see him, do not laugh. Do not mock. Do not turn away or shake your head. Just gently lead him to the nearest bench and help him to sit down.
Have pity on the man. He is so fearful, so wide-eyed. He’s a deer on Queensway. Tarzan walking through the urban jungle. He’s a beached whale wondering how he got there and how he’ll get out.
Who is this forlorn creature? This ashen-faced orphan? He is (if you had hats on I would ask you to remove them out of respect) – he is the man in the women’s department of the store. Looking for a gift.
The occasion could be anything. Easter, her birthday, their anniversary.
Whatever the motive, he has come out of hiding. Leaving behind his familiar habitat of hardware stores, food courts and big-screen televisions in the appliance department, he ventures into the unknown world of women’s wear. You’ll spot him easily. He’s the motionless one in the aisle. Were it not for the sweat rings under his arms, you’d think he was a mannequin.
But he isn’t. He is a man in a woman’s world and he’s never seen so much underwear. At the Walmart where he buys his, it’s all wrapped up and fits on one shelf. But here is a forest of lace. His father warned him about places like this.
Author Max Lucado’s father saw the challenge of shopping for women as a rite of passage, right in there with the birds and bees and tying neckties, so he taught Max how to survive when he shopped. To get around a foreign country you need to know the language, so Max’s dad taught his sons the language of the ladies department. “There will come a time,” he said solemnly, “when a salesperson will offer to help you. At that moment take a deep breath and say this phrase ‘Es-tee-lau-der’”. Every year after that Max’s mom received three gifts on the gift-giving occasions from the men in her life. Estee Lauder, Estee Lauder, Estee Lauder.
Unfortunately when Max got married, his wife didn’t like Estee Lauder so he had to begin to look for something else. First he thought he would buy her a dress but when the salesperson asked his wife’s size, Max didn’t have a clue. After all, there are certain questions a man just doesn’t ask.
The saleswoman tried to be helpful by asking “How does she compare to me?” Max says he was taught to be polite so he struggled with a good way to tell her. In all truth, Max’s wife was quite a bit thinner than the salesperson, but he wanted to be diplomatic about how he phrased his answer. As a writer, he thought he should be able to come up with just the right words. He considered being direct “She is less of you.” Or complimentary “You are more woman than she is.” Perhaps a hint would suffice, “I hear the store is downsizing.” Finally he swallowed and said the only thing he know how to say, “Estee Lauder?” The saleswoman pointed him to the perfume counter.
Max decided he would try purses instead. What could be complicated about selecting a tool for holding cards and money? After all, he’d been using the same money clip for eight years. Tell an attendant in the men’s department that you want a wallet and you’re taken to a small counter next to the cash register. Your only decision is brown or black. Tell an attendant in the women’s department that you want a purse and you are escorted to a room. A room of shelves. Shelves with purses.
The salesperson began to ask Max some questions to which he had no answers. “What kind of purse would your wife like?” His blank look told her he was clueless so she began listing the options. “Handbag? Shoulder bag? Glove bag? Backpack? Cross shoulder pack? Change purse?” Dizzied by the options, Max had to sit down and put his head between his knees lest he faint. Didn’t stop the lady. Leaning over him she continued, “Moneybag? Tote bag? Pocketbook? Satchel?”
Max jumped to his feet and left as quicklyas possible. But as he left he shouted back, “Estee Lauder. Estee Lauder!”
The things we do to give gifts to those we love. But we don’t mind, do we? We would do it again. In fact we do, every birthday, anniversary, Christmas, Easter, and every so often we find ourselves in foreign territory. Grandparents in toy stores. Dad’s in stores for teenagers. Wives in the sporting or hunting stores and husbands in the purse section. We are at our best when we are giving. In fact, we are most like God when we are giving.
Through Holy Week we honour and celebrate the greatest gifts given to us by a God who loves us without end. Despite the celebratory ride of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he still suffered beating, mocking, shame, denial and abandonment just a few days later. He was given the death of a criminal, though he had done nothing to warrant it. But on the third day, as the disciples and women went to the tomb, they could find no evidence of Jesus’ body. Instead, they were told that he had risen from the grave as had been prophesied. And today we may find ourselves reflecting on the question “You did this for me?”
Jesus’ gift of the cross means that we are reconciled with God. We are God’s beloved. As John 3:16 says, “For God so loves the world that God gave his only Son so that we would not perish but have eternal life.” You did this for me? How many of us would give the gift of our own life for those who revile us, abandon us, mock us, gossip about us and even deny our existence in our lives? God’s gifts are beyond our imagining and today we celebrate the greatest of all: Jesus’ gift of new life.