With their “lanterns and weapons,” the soldiers and Judas came looking for Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. When Jesus saw them approaching, He said to them, “For Whom are you looking?” They said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said, “I am He.” Then Judas “stepped back and fell to the ground” out of shame. Then Jesus asked again, “For Whom are you looking?”
In another garden, thousands of years earlier, a man and woman had chosen to follow their own understanding and logic. They followed the advice of a serpent, in direct contradiction of God's command. When they ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they saw that they were naked and were ashamed. Then they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves and then they ran away and tried to hide from God. But they couldn't! Then comes the surprise in the story. Instead of God abandoning mankind, He goes out looking for them! Where are you? I am looking for you.
But there is yet another garden where the same question is asked: “For Whom are you looking?” After the arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Mary Magdalene came to this other garden: the garden where Jesus had been buried. When she had arrived in the garden, Mary Magdalene saw in the moonlight that the stone had been removed from Jesus' tomb. Her sorrow now turned to horror. In that despair she started running back to the disciples to announce to them what she had discovered. Peter and His beloved disciple John went quickly to the tomb. John arrived there first, but waited for Peter and let him go inside ahead of him. Peter saw that the linen burial cloths were there, but there was no body.Then John followed Peter into the tomb. He also saw the linen burial cloths.
Mary returned to the tomb after Peter and John had gone back to their homes. Mary returned with her sorrow. She was crying. She looked into the tomb and heard someone asking, “Why are you weeping?” She explained that she still believed that someone must have stolen the body of Jesus. In her sorrow she turned away from the empty tomb and saw someone who again asked her why she was crying. Then, that gardener asked Mary the same question that we heard thousands of years ago in the Garden of Eden and then in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Whom are you seeking?” Mary answered by repeating her question, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take him away.” As if she were able to do this.
“For Whom are you looking?” is not only the question God had for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It is not only for Judas and the soldiers who came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. And it is not only for Mary Magdalene in the Easter Garden. It is God's question for each of us in this church today. So brothers and sisters, “For Whom are YOU looking?”
For some, “Whom” is too personal. We often run from that question like Adam and Eve ran from God. The most we want to hear is “What?” “What are we looking for?” A better church building, cooler, more accessible with enough parking space, cooperative church members, non-confrontational and always smiling church leaders, a larger facility with less activity and less contribution; or we answer like Adam and Eve: power and control, or we answer like Judas: some more money; or we answer like Mary Magdalene, the ability to do something even for a dead body; or like Peter, we ask for forgiveness. But we have to realize that the question of Easter is not “What?” but “Who?” Easter is not offering some “thing”, it is offering some “one!” Easter is offering us Jesus! If you are looking for something more than what the world offers, if you are looking for faith, hope, and love, it is offered to you this day: not a “what” but a “who,” and His name is Jesus, risen from the dead for you and for me. Let us fixed our eyes on Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith.