NOTE FOR GROUP LEADER: With the group, read or listen to the passage again and discuss any or all of the reflection questions. Items needed: Reading passage and questions.
The Empty Tomb
20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13 They 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.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15 He asked her, “Woman, 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.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!”(which means “Teacher”).
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary 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.
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
Questions for reflection and discussion:
- If you were Mary Magdalene, what would you be feeling and thinking on your way to Christ’s tomb? How would you have reacted once you saw that the stone had been rolled to the side of the tomb? How would you have described your first encounter with Jesus to the apostles?
- When Mary Magdalene first saw Jesus, she thought he was the gardener. She did not recognize Him until He called her by name. Isn’t it also true of us? We do not recognize someone until they call us by name. When Jesus calls us by name, what is his message to us? Do we hear Him? Do we then recognize Him? Does it become easier to build a relationship with Him?
- In the final line of this passage, John says that Jesus greeted the apostles with the following: “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” What is Christ’s message to us? What does peace mean? What are we expected to do?
- What does Christ’s Resurrection mean for you?
- What if Christ had not died on the cross and risen from the dead? Where would we be today? How would our lives be different? How would the life of society be different?
NOTE TO GROUP LEADER: At the end of the session, you may want to allow the group to have a few moments for open commentary and thoughts about the session. And what it may have meant for them.