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.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). (John 20:15-16)
Sarah Jane Smith is investigating the strange, sudden rise in test scores at a local school following a mysterious UFO sighting. So is a handsome stranger in an ill-fitting suit. One night they are both prowling the halls of the school looking for answers when Sarah Jane makes a discovery in a storage area: a familiar blue police box. Backing away from it, she walks past her fellow investigator and realizes just who he is. She has never seen this face before, but yet...she does recognize him. And he, of course, recognizes her. “Hello, Sarah Jane,” he says, and instantly she knows it’s the Doctor.
Mary had come with the other women on the first day of the week to complete the burial rituals that there had not been time to see to when Jesus died just before the onset of the Sabbath. When they arrive, however, the tomb is empty. Frantic and upset, she pleads with the gardener to tell her where the body has been taken, but it turns out he is not the gardener. “Mary,” he says, and once he says her name she looks up and immediately recognizes her teacher and friend.
Sarah Jane wasn't expecting to see the Doctor when she began investigating the school. “I waited for you and you didn't come back and I thought you must have died!” she tells him. Mary was expecting to see Jesus when she went to his tomb, but not in a state where he could stand there talking to her. We have the benefit of history and hindsight, so we are ready to see the Risen Savior on Easter morning, but there are other times that we are surprised to see God in our lives because we weren't expect to see him there.
Jesus was right where he said he would be three days after his crucifixion, so why were his followers so surprised to see an empty tomb? Not long after that, he said he would always be with us, so why does he have to call our names before we actually look around sometimes? My Easter prayer is that we might expect to see God in every situation, right where he said he would be.