Misty Kiwak Jacobs
Easter Vigil 2023
Preached at St. John’s Williamstown, MA
April 8, 2023

John 20: 1 – 18

Mary 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.”

Song of Songs

I sought him whom my soul loves;
I sought him whom my soul loves;
I sought him, but found him not;
I called him, but he gave no answer.

The disciples rushed to the tomb to check, you know, to see if what Mary said is true. And it really was empty. Then they went back home. But Mary stays.

Mary Magdalene is the disciple who, despite her sorrow, despite the danger of being associated with Jesus, still seeks him. . . (Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza).

The other disciples remain locked up/closed tight/shut in. Mary is outside, vulnerable, wandering the paths. 

Mary remains weeping outside the tomb, leaning against the stone, and as she weeps she stoops to look into the tomb, straight into her loss. And there she sees two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.

Song of Songs 

I sought him, but found him not;
I called him, but he gave no answer.

The angels say to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She replies, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 

Song of Songs

if you find my beloved,
tell him
I am sick with love

This reminds me of another instance of seeking. In the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve fall from grace and realize they are naked they hide from God. And God seeks them.

In Genesis 3, it is written that Adam and Eve heard the sound of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day as they hid.

And God called out, “Where are you?”

When my oldest son was a toddler, he and I would play hide and seek in the house. I remember hiding behind the shower curtain, and hearing him toddle down the hall calling, “Where is you?”

So sweet and full of love and longing. That’s how I hear God’s voice in Genesis calling his children, a voice full of pure love. “Where is you?”

And now Mary Magdalen seeks God, Incarnate in Jesus, Jesus who has sanctified her–and all of us–through his life, death and resurrection. 

Russian theologian Bulgakov writes, “The Incarnation as a sacrifice of love for the world, always lay along the pathways of the creation of the world and humanity . . . ” (Bulgakov, 26)

Jesus’ incarnation was planned for the love of the world from the beginning of time, not because of our sin but because of God’s desire to be in relationship with us. God was calling out to us from before our hearts conceived of God. Before there was an us.

Bulgakov continues, “The cry from the cross ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30), relates not only to [Jesus’s death] on Golgotha, but to everything that was accomplished in it . . . the entire act of the creation of humanity . . . .” (Bulgakov, 26).

Mary is not hiding like Eve hid. She is not hiding like the disciples are hiding. Mary is searching. And when she finds Jesus, they embrace, but briefly. Jesus tells her, “go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to MY Father and YOUR Father, to MY God and YOUR God.” 

Mary hurries back to the house where the disciples grieve. They have only just witnessed Jesus’ arrest and scourging. Only a few hours earlier John was standing beneath the cross as Jesus died, supporting his mother as she collapsed.

All are traumatized, perhaps still in shock. Some are likely weeping.

Mary enters. She is strangely radiant with heavenly light, like Moses descending Mount Sinai. Awash in glory.

Heavy with grief they look up at her, uprepared for what they are about to hear. She speaks.

“I have seen him. I have seen the Lord. He lives!”


  1. Mary Lois Ashley

    Amen, Misty, He is risen indeed!! So thankful for All that He is…the same, yesterday, today, and forever!! Love the inclusion of Song of Solomon in your message!! Thanks for that reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

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