It’s an eternal tension, a quintessential question Christians carry: How do we hold on to joy though this world gives way to grief? As believers, we hinge our hope on Christ’s victory over death. We rejoice in our salvation—the gift of eternal life—yet grief grows wild, runs rampant in this life.

I wake each morning to new mercies, only to reckon with old wounds. I could read you my litany of losses, but I know you have yours too: The estranged daughter. The marriage in need of mending. The new diagnosis. The loved one lost too soon. The house that burned down. The pet that passed away. The love that betrayed you. The crowd that harmed you.

When the resurrected Jesus appeared at the garden tomb, as yet unrecognizable to Mary, he asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” (John 20:15). Christ, even in his moment of victory, made space for her grief. In this way, is not the Resurrection reminiscent of the Incarnation? That unfathomable mystery that Christ came as a baby, forsaking all power for the sake of propitiation, yes, but also simply for the sake of proximity to us.

Jesus, with the simplicity of a question, makes space for Mary’s sorrow. At the garden tomb—that place of both greenery and grave, of miracle and mourning—Christ’s compassionate moment with Mary demonstrates that we are chosen to know and to be known by him. We are not merely a people to rescue; we are a people, yes, saved and sent out (Mark 3:13–14), but also invited simply to be with him.

On Easter Sunday, I remember the first thing Jesus did after his resurrection. Though the God-man had just been raised to life, he continued to stoop down and stay low. This is how Jesus has always been. He is the Word become flesh, taking on human form to dwell and dine, suffer and celebrate with us. He is our risen Lord, bending an ear to Mary, lingering in the first moments of their reunion at the garden tomb. He is God, standing beside man in the garden at the beginning of time.

This was Mary’s joy when he spoke her name, and she finally recognized and reunited with her Rabboni (John 20:16). This is our joy, too. The risen Jesus brings salvation, and he brings himself. His victory will bring us from graves into glory, and he has come to be with us now, in the garden tomb of life on earth. He meets us, even as loss interlaces all we love and live by, both during the season of Easter and forever beyond. Hallelujah.

Rachel Marie Kang is founder of The Fallow House and is the author of two books.

This article is part of Easter in the Everyday, a devotional to help individuals, small groups, and families journey through the 2024 Lent & Easter season. Learn more about this special issue here!

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