Everyone loves a comeback, as long as it’s in our favour! They are often spectacular and always memorable. One thing many of my students know about me is that I am a Liverpool FC fan. This fact has filled my life with many highs and lows. The highest of these moments came in 2005, we were in the European cup final against AC Milan of Italy. At half time we found ourselves losing 3-0 and without any hope of winning. But, following an inspired team-talk and inspirational performances in the team, we were able to respond with three more goals of our own and eventually we took home the cup!
In the Easter story we find what might well be the greatest comeback of all time. To come back from three goals down is one thing, but to come back from death is far greater. But Jesus didn’t come back in the way many of us would have expected. He didn’t come back like Gandalf the wizard, glowing in an unapproachable bright light. Neither did he come back like Superman, catching a falling aeroplane in front of a stadium of spectators. No, Jesus came back in a way that shows us something incredible about why he came in the first place, that he knows us intimately, he loves us deeply and he is on our side forever.
Mary Magdalene was weeping outside the tomb. “Where is the body?” She called out, “who has taken his body away?” Unbeknown to her, the Risen Lord Jesus was right beside her, listening to her cries. “Why are you crying?” He asked. She responds in desperation, thinking he was a gardener with some inside information.
But then something changed…
Jesus announced his comeback from death, and from this moment the world would never be the same again. So how did he do it? With fireworks? With tricks? With power? With wrath? With arrogance? No… Jesus announced his return simply by saying “Mary”. The risen King of Heaven, conqueror of death, announces his comeback with a name, her name, and suddenly Mary’s eyes were opened. She saw, she believed, she was changed.
For Christians around the world their faith hinges on the belief that Jesus really is alive. That he really defeated death. But still the announcement does not come with trumpets and a booming voice from heaven. This has never been the way of Jesus.
Rather, the risen Jesus is simply calling each of us by our names, in full knowledge of who we are and what we’ve done, and inviting us to join in his victory and receive sure hope beyond sin and death. The question is, will we look up from our weeping and respond?