Maybe the most touching moment in the Easter story happens early on the first Easter morning. Mary stands outside Jesus’ tomb weeping, cut to the heart with sorrow. She turns around to see Jesus but fails to recognise him – until he utters her name. And in that one moment of joyful recognition her whole world changes. Grief, sorrow and pain are changed into unutterable joy. For Jesus is indeed alive again: risen, astonishingly, from the dead.

That moment turns her whole life around. For me too, meeting the risen Jesus, albeit in a different kind of way, was the turning point of my life. I can certainly testify to the same intense joy that she felt.

The new Adam, the new gardener

But there’s even more to that story than that remarkable personal encounter. When she first sees him, Mary thinks Jesus is the gardener. And she’s not wholly wrong. Think of this story in terms of the much older story of Adam and Eve. God gave Adam a task, to care for his creation. Adam was the first gardener, but he disobeyed God so the whole world fell prey to weeds and thorns and thistles. But Jesus is the new Adam, the new gardener, who obeys his Father. And here he is on that first Easter day, risen from the dead to bring fruitfulness and flowers, blossom and harvest, light and life to all God’s creation.

And Jesus the new gardener sends Mary to share this good news, good news that there really is a new beginning, not just for him, not just for her, but for all of us and for all creation. Mary is the first one entrusted with that task (and it’s noticeable that the first witnesses to the resurrection were women).

Are we ready to hear Jesus calling?

But the question for us all is whether we are ready to listen to her and hear her testimony. Are we ready to hear Jesus calling each of us by name, as he surely is? Before I came to faith for myself I read these words of Jesus: ‘Have I been with you so long, Philip, and yet you have not known me?’ It was a goose bump moment! And my prayer for you reading this is that you too will hear him calling your name, and know that he is indeed risen from the dead, the Living One, who is alive for us, for evermore.