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Text: John 20:11-18 11but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?" "They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him." 14At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15"Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him." 16Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' " 18Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Background information: The word “Rabboni” shows deeper respect and reverence than the word rabbi (teacher), and it was also used of God. Mary Magdalene must herself have told about this incident to John, who included it in his account of Jesus´ life. John was the last one to write his Gospel, some 50 years after these events. He wanted to include such events in his Gospel that the other evangelists had not told about.

The angels, verses 11-13

  • Why did Mary Magdalene return to the tomb although she knew it was empty? (11)
  • If Mary and the disciples had their lodgings about one kilometre away from the tomb, how much time and energy had it taken so far for Mary to find Jesus?
    (also see John 20:1-2)
  • There is no mention of Mary crying at the cross or the burial. If we assume that this is the first occasion when she burst into tears, what may have caused it?
  • Were her tears useless? Give reasons to your answers.
  • Think about what kind of relationship Mary had with Jesus considering the names she used of him. (13,16,18).
  • Why didn´t Mary appear to be surprised or ask the angels what they were doing in the tomb?
  • Why did the angels ask Mary a self-evident question?

    Mary and Jesus, verses 14-17

  • Why didn´t Jesus reveal to Mary straight away who he really was?
  • Why didn´t Mary recognize Jesus as soon as she saw him?
  • Why did Jesus, too, ask Mary why she was crying when he must have known the answer?
  • How did Mary think she would be able to take Jesus´ body away from the tomb and where was she planning to take it (15)?
  • Why did Mary finally recognize Jesus the moment he called her by name?
  • What did Mary feel in her heart when she realized that Jesus was alive?
  • Do you think Mary would have wanted to throw her arms around Jesus at that moment? Give reasons to your answers.
  • Why did Jesus tell Mary not to touch him? Note that some time later he encouraged Thomas to touch him (verses 17 and 27).
  • What does Jesus mean when he says “ for I have not yet returned to the Father”(17) (When would Mary be allowed to touch Jesus?)
  • What can men learn from Jesus´ behaviour as a man in this situation?

    Being a witness verses 17-18

  • What does Jesus in fact claim about himself in verse 17?
  • At that time women were not allowed to be witnesses in legal proceedings. Why did Jesus call women to be witnesses on Easter morning?
  • Why did Jesus send Mary to tell the disciples the news though he knew they wouldn´t believe her?
  • Jesus refused to follow such rules of his community that he considered unjust. He cured sick people on the Sabbath and was seen in the company of tax collectors and prostitutes regardless of the criticism he received. Why didn´t he choose Mary to replace Judas as his 12th disciple?
  • Mary told the disciples what Jesus had said to her but apparently she kept silent about other details of their encounter until perhaps decades later she described to John what had happened (18). If this suggestion is true, think about reasons why Mary chose to keep quiet about the details of her encounter with Jesus.

    Questions related to The Da Vinci Code:

  • Compare the way Mary and Jesus are presented in this text to how they are portrayed in The Da Vinci Code.
  • How does this text disprove the basic idea of the The Da Vinci Code.

    Afterword: The resurrected Jesus appeared to his disciples many times over the next 40 days. Then he ascended into Heaven in front of 500 of his followers, Mary Magdalene probably among them. Acts 1:14 says: 14They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. This passage gives us a last glimpse of Mary Magdalene.

  • What do you think Mary´s life was like after this? What kind of tasks was she perhaps given in the Christian congregation?
  • Think about Mary´s life cycle: her youth when she was possessed by evil spirits, three fabulous years in the company of Jesus and thre rest of her life among the Christian congregation. How does this kind of life cycle appear to you?
  • What do you think was the meaning of Mary´s life?

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