“Listen to Jesus Say Your Name”

John 20:11-16

St. John 20:11-16  “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, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.’  Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not now that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom do you seek?’  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, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher).”

Dear fellow redeemed in Christ our Lord…  He is risen!

When someone calls your name, your reaction depends a lot on who it is that is calling your name and what that person may want.  For example, when the mechanic calls you from the repair shop, will it be a small or a large bill you will pay?  When the doctor calls you back after some tests, do you fear what he may say?  When your mother or father call you, will they have good news or bad?  If one of your children calls, especially in the middle of the night, what are you thinking?

As we examine our text we see that a new day had dawned, though certainly not one that was without guilt and fear, for there had been a separation.  That is what death does – it brings forth a stinging separation.  The sorrow is overwhelming as the reality of death sets in.  The coldness of death, along with being afraid for what had happened and fearing the future, produces shivers in body and soul.  The women had come to Jesus’ grave to complete the burial process, and all they could think about was what had happened two days earlier.

It reminds us of another “new day,” only this one was way at the beginning of time – another day when someone’s name was called in a garden.  On that cool day, it was into the Garden of Eden that God walked and called out and said one name, “Adam.”

How that one word must have struck fear in the soul and sent terror into Adam’s heart as he heard God call, “Adam, where are you?”  Adam had disobeyed God and further sinned by trying to hide himself from God.  God had not left him, he had separated himself from God.  After the fall, there was the doling out of the consequences.  And when it came time for Adam’s sentence, God said to him in a play on his name, “Thou art Adam and unto Adam thou shalt return.  Thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return” (Genesis 3:19).  This is the sorry state of man … self-separated from God, staying away from the Presence of Yahweh, covered by a shroud of guilt, hiding in the sinful condition.

And from that time onward the inheritance of death in the sinful nature is passed on from generation to generation.  Some have a short time in this fallen world; others live longer.  But sooner or later, all will pass away in the end.

But God, the Maker of heaven and earth, would not let this be; and even before the beginning the plan of salvation had been determined.  The Son of God would come into this world of death to be the Life of the world.  St. Paul writes in Galatians 4:4: “When the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”  And in John 3 (17): “for God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”  This is how and why Christ was born in the little town of Bethlehem.  On the eighth day, when Jesus first shed His holy Blood, the Redeemer was named when Joseph, His foster father, called out His name: “Jesus, which means Savior.”

From that time on Jesus went about His Father’s business, specifically, atoning for the sins of all people of all times and places.  Thirty years later, Jesus Himself declared, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).  Jesus then set His face to the journey to Good Friday.  He is betrayed, He is denied, and he is deserted by many people including His disciples.  The Son of God is mocked, He is scourged and He is crucified by those who wanted Him dead and out of the way.  Jesus goes to the cross to be the Sacrifice for the sins of the world.  He pays the price for all as He is assaulted by Satan and forsaken by His Father.  Then, at the ninth hour – at three in the afternoon – with all things finished, with the devil defeated, with the wrath of God against all sins satisfied, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29) commends His Spirit into the hands of His Father.

What is left is His Body still pinned to the cross, an awful sight to those who had been His disciples.  As Luke records, they “had hoped that He was the One to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21).  But what they had left was the lifeless body of Jesus that had been taken down from the cross and placed into a tomb.  What they had left was their own personal, individual thoughts as they grieved the death of Jesus.  Some of them were filled with guilt and fear because they, like Adam in the Garden of Eden, had departed from the Presence of the Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane and gone somewhere to hide.

One of them, Judas, committed suicide.  Another, Peter, wept bitterly.  Some, in sorrow and contrition, had set about to provide a decent burial.  Two men placed His body in a tomb before the Sabbath began.  Some women marked the place in order to return to care for His body after the Sabbath ended.  The grief and sorrow heightened when, on the first day of the week, this final service is denied them.  The mourning women discover that the body of Christ is no longer in the tomb.

Indeed, a new day had dawned, though certainly not one that was without guilt and fear, for there had been a separation, for that is what death does – it brings forth a stinging separation.  The sorrow is overwhelming as the reality of death sets in.  The coldness of death, along with being afraid for what had happened and fearing the future, produces shivers in body and soul.  The women had come to Jesus’ grave to complete the burial process, and all they could think about was what had happened two days earlier.  Into the sorry atmosphere of that garden the Lord called out to that one particular person and said one name, “Mary.”

Mary was the one who “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, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.’  Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not now that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom do you seek?’  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.'”

And that did it!  Jesus called her by her name, and that makes all the difference in the world, for Mary knew the voice of her Shepherd when He called her by her name.  And in the familiarity with His voice Mary’s Good Friday grief is replaced by Easter Sunday joy.  “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary,’ and the sadness of death gives way to joy of life!

The stillness of the tomb is broken by the one who says her name.  “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.'”  The weeping words of sniffling uncertainty are replaced by a faithful confession of the truth when “She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher).”

Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of His Father from eternity and also true man born of the Virgin Mary, is risen!  Jesus had commended Himself into His Father’s hands when His body and soul were separated in death.  And now on the third day His body and spirit are reunited.  He has done all this that you might have forgiveness for all your sins.  He has done all this so that you may have eternal life with Him in Paradise.  He has done all this so that you may have salvation forever.  The Father has given His Word on this; the Word has given His Life for you; and the Holy Spirit works faith within you by this Gospel in Word and Sacrament.

So, Jesus calls His own people by name, and in calling them by name He makes them His own.  When you were baptized, the Lord called you His own and you were crucified with Christ.  You have been united with Him in His death and you shall certainly be united with Him in His Resurrection.  Yahweh declares to His own people, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine” (Isaiah 43:1).

Dear Baptized, “Listen to Jesus Say Your Name.”  You are His; you are bought and paid for with and by the “innocent sufferings and death” of Jesus, your Lord and Savior.  His love for you sent Him to the cross in order to call out, “It is finished!”  His love for you sent Him to the grave whereby “His rest in the tomb sanctified the graves of all the saints” (Funeral liturgy).  And His resurrection from the dead means that even death itself has been defeated once and for all.

He has called you by your name, and you are His!  He is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  Amen!