John 20:1–18 (NRSV)
Chapter 20Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. Verse 2So she 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." Verse 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. Verse 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. Verse 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Verse 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, Verse 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Verse 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; Verse 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Verse 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.
Verse 11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; Verse 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. Verse 13They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." Verse 14When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Verse 15Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" 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." Verse 16Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). Verse 17Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Verse 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
One of the things that I love about John’s telling of the Easter story is that the events unfold in a garden. In that garden, Mary Magdalene was weeping because, according to her belief, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” She turned and saw the gardener and said to him, “Lord, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” And then the gardener said, “Mary!” And at the sound of her name, the scales fell from her eyes and she saw that it was him—the gardener, the lamb of God, Jesus the Christ.
The garden setting reminds us of the first garden, the garden of creation, in which the man and woman were placed to serve and protect the earth. In the garden of the new creation, Mary was the first to see the Lord and know that the resurrection means the promise of new creation for all and for all the earth.
Lord, near the cross (in a garden), a trembling soul, love and mercy found me; there the bright and morning star sheds its beams around me. Amen.