Sorrow To Hope

Bible Book: John  20 : 11-18
Subject: Life; Resurrection; Easter; Death to Life

Jesus was dead. He had been crucified and when he was taken off of the cross he was dead. There is no way to dispute this truth. With his death came many questions and fears and sorrows from those who followed him. The disciples had deserted him in fear of their own lives, but after Jesus is dead they begin to question and to doubt and to mourn. They had believed that he was truly the Messiah. They had believed that he was the one who would redeem Israel. Now he was dead, and they were left with their own emotions and sorrows about what had happened to their teacher and friend.

If that is where the story ended, then we would have nothing to celebrate on this day. We would not even be here because there would be nothing to celebrate. It was the death of Jesus that had to happen in order for the penalty of sin to be paid, but it is the resurrection that gives the hope and the peace and the joy that comes with knowing that Jesus is indeed the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings. While Good Friday is a day to remember the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, this is the day where we celebrate the truth that Jesus Christ is alive and that death ahs been defeated once and for all and that all sins have been forgiven of those who would place their faith and trust in Jesus!

The resurrection turns our sorrows into hope. We all have things that we mourn and we all have things that bring us sorrow, but there is hope to be found in the midst of sorrow because of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the first day of the week following the crucifixion of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and some of the women followers of Christ went to his tomb. Upon getting to the tomb they see that it is empty. They run back to town to tell the disciples that the tomb is empty and that someone has removed the body of Jesus. Peter and John run out to the tomb and when they get there they see the linens in the tomb, but Jesus is gone. The Bible says that upon seeing these things that John believed even though they still did not understand the Scriptures that Jesus did not only have to die but that he also had to rise. After seeing the empty tomb John and Peter go home and they leave Mary alone at the tomb of Jesus.

This morning we are going to see how the resurrection truly turns sorrow into hope through the Risen Savior’s interaction with Mary.

I. Mary’s Loss - 20:11-13

Mary is left alone at the tomb by Peter and John and she is weeping. The word for weeping in this verse does not mean that she has silent tears running down her cheeks. It does not mean that she is struggling to maintain her composure while the tears reluctantly fall. The word “weep” in this verse means to have an uncontrollable and powerful state of mourning. Mary would have been on her knees screaming in deep and painful sorrow at the loss of Jesus. She came to the tomb to seek comfort at the fact that he was still there, but now his body is gone and she feels as though she has lost him all over again.

You may ask yourself, why did Mary remain at the tomb? Honestly, either you know the answer and so I do not have to tell you, or you do not know the answer in which case there is not much that I can say. If you have lost someone who was truly special to you, then you know why Mary is uncontrollably weeping at the tomb. Some of you may have woken up this morning and remembered loved ones who are no longer here. Some of you may go to a cemetery this afternoon and quietly reflect on what that person means to you. You may even speak to that person in your heart and tell them again how much you miss them. If you have ever done that then you know why Mary is at the tomb.

While Mary is mourning, however, she sees two angels in the tomb and they ask her why she is crying? She responds by saying that they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him. She is weeping over the empty tomb! The symbol for many of us of the power and validity of the resurrection is what Mary is currently mourning over. The angels know of course that Jesus is not there, not because his body was stolen but because he is alive! He is alive, and the living are not going to be found among the dead. Mary does not realize this yet, however. She does not even realize that these two men are angels. She is so consumed by her grief and sorrow that she does not recognize what is right in front of her. She has all of the facts, but she has jumped to the wrong conclusion. She should be filled with joy instead of sorrow, yet she does not yet see the truth of what has happened. She wants to know where Jesus is and as she turns around she will get her answer.

II. Mary’s Search- 20:14-15

Mary sees Jesus standing behind her but does not recognize him. Now why would Mary not recognize Jesus, whom she loves and is obviously distraught over losing? There are probably a couple of reasons for this.

Firstly, Mary is not expecting to see Jesus. She believes that he is still dead, so why would she expect to see Jesus standing behind her when she is looking for his dead body? It is not uncommon for us not to recognize people that we know when we see them in different contexts. When you know someone at church and the only place that you ever see them or interact with them is at church it is easy to not recognize them if you were to run into them at a ball game or at the grocery store.

The second possibility for Mary not recognizing Jesus is that Jesus could possibly be veiling his identity so that she does not recognize him. He did this on the road to Emmaus with his disciples. Jesus kept his identity from Mary in order to show her an important truth.

Jesus is always present even when we cannot see him with the naked eye. Just because you may not see Jesus does not mean that he is not with you or that he is not present in a situation or circumstance. The Lord is often closest to us when we feel the most alone. When we are struggling, or we are facing a difficult circumstance or in a season when we think that we have been abandoned by God and that we are all alone in our suffering. If we would just open our eyes and actually see the situation for what it is, we would be able to see that God is always there.

I love the question that Jesus asks Mary here. He says, “Woman why are you weeping and whom are you seeking?” He does not ask her what are you seeking. That would be an entirely different question. Jesus was searching for a what a dead body. Jesus points her to a who himself.

Often times we go through life looking for something. We are going through life searching and searching for something that will make us feel like we are important or that we have meaning and purpose. We look for it anywhere and everywhere but the answer I not something the answer is someone! We are looking for Jesus. The answer to our deepest need in life is the Lord Jesus Christ. The reason that he is the answer now and the reason that he was the answer for Mary on that Sunday morning is because he is alive, and he is risen. He defeated death and he offers us the gift of eternal life and redemption from our sins because he paid the penalty for it on the cross and he confirmed his defeat of sin with his glorious resurrection. The search is over. We do not need to go through life looking for the answer to our needs anywhere but in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the answer and he is fulfillment of everything that we need.

III. Mary’s Mission- 20:16-18

Jesus speaks her name and immediately Mary realizes who she is speaking to. This shows the truth and the power in what is said earlier in John’s Gospel. Jesus calls his sheep by name and his sheep hear him and follow him for they know his voice.

Think about all of the emotions that must be going through Mary at this moment. She thought that Jesus was dead and not only dead but that his body had been stolen and taken away. She thought that she had lost him for a second time and now here he is in front of her calling her by name. She throws herself at the feet of Jesus and Jesus tells her do not cling to me. Why should she not cling to Jesus? She thought that she had lost him and now she has him again, so she clings to him as if to say please do not leave me ever again. I thought I had lost you but now you are here, and I love you and I never want to be without you ever again. The good news is that she never will be without him again, but Jesus’ physical time on earth was coming to a close.

When we give ourselves to Jesus and we place our faith and our trust in him for the forgiveness of our sins and for eternal life then we will never be without him ever again for all of eternity. He will always be with us and we will always have access to him but that access for now is not going to be seen and experienced physically. Jesus is alive, and he is the all-powerful and all knowing, and all sufficient Son of God and we now have a relationship with him that is possible because of his death and his resurrection.

Jesus tells Mary< “I have not yet ascended to my Father but go and tell my brothers that I am ascending to my Father and to your Father.” A new relationship with God is awaiting us all.

If you are here today and you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, then do you realize that God is literally your father. Jesus Christ now calls you his brother or his sister. He gives us the Holy Spirit to be with us throughout all of our lives and he brings us into his family. We are a part of the family of God. It does not end there, however.

We have a mission. Jesus did not reveal himself to Mary and then say have nice day now. He tells her to go and share what she has seen with others. When Jesus reveals himself to the disciples he gives them a mission. The way that Mary goes back to the disciples and tells them about what she has seen means that she could not stop telling it. She was so overcome by the power of the resurrection that she could not stop talking about it. Church we have a mission. The resurrection assures us of eternal life and the hope of redemption and forgiveness of sin, but it also means that we have a mission. We have a purpose and a calling upon all of our lives.

The resurrection turns sorrow into hope because of what the future actually holds for us. We have a mission to share that with the world. There is power in the firsthand account of an event. Mary and the disciples had that firsthand account and so do we. Believers all over the world have that firsthand knowledge and experience of what it means to have our sins forgiven. We know what it means to have our guilt and our shame taken away. We know what it means to be made new.


There is great power in the words of someone who can say, “I was there. I saw it. I heard it. I am giving you an eyewitness account.”

A Baptist church in Bangladesh was showing the “Jesus” film to an audience filled with people who had never heard the gospel before. Little children sat in front and in the aisles. The adults stood in the back. As the story of Jesus’ crucifixion unfolded, there were tears and audible gasps. As the Bengalis watched, one young boy suddenly spoke up, “Do not be afraid. He gets up again! I saw it before.”

This is our message to a world overwhelmed with the reality of death. God has given us the answer. We can say to those who feel bewildered and heartbroken, “Fear not. Jesus Christ has come back from the dead. We have seen the Lord!”

The resurrection should be what gives us hope and what gives us motivation and desire and joy to share the Gospel with the whole world. When we see people at the store we should want to tell them about Jesus. When we see people in our family we should want to tell them about Jesus. The resurrection changes everything. We no longer have to speak to God through sacrifices or priests. We have direct access to our Father in Heaven because he has adopted us and made us apart of His family.

Maybe you are here today, and you are a believer, but you have never allowed the truth of the resurrection to fill you with hope. Hope for life eternal and hope for the power of the Gospel to change lives. Won’t you come forward today and allow the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to fill you anew with hope and joy and the mission that Christ has given us to share His Gospel with the entire world.

Maybe you are here today, and you are here just because it is Easter. You do not know what it means to have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. You do not know what it is like to be called a child of the Father or a brother or sister of the Jesus Christ. Make this Easter the Easter that you will never forget. Experience firsthand the power and the hope of the resurrection. Ask Jesus to take away your sins and to bring you into his family. He is ready to do it. He wants to do it. The forgiveness of sin is there. The answer to sin is there, won’t you accept the gift of life that Jesus has offered you?