Who Are You Looking For?


Message Title:  Who Are You Looking For?
Season: EASTER
Main Text: John 20:1-18
Scripture Reading:
Jeremiah 31:1-6
RCL Scripture:
*Acts 10:34-43 or Jeremiah 31:1-6; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; Colossians 3:1-4 or Acts 10:34-43; John 20:1-18 or Matthew 28:1-10
Focus:  Mary discovers the empty tomb and is the first to witness the resurrected Jesus.
To release the image of Jesus from our expectations and allow a new image to form.
Other Notes:
EASTER//Sanctified Art Curriculum//Baptism Sunday & Bell Choir

SCRIPTURE READING: Jeremiah 31:1-7 At that time, declares the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people. 2 The Lord proclaims: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness. As Israel searched for a place of rest, 3 the Lord appeared to them from a distance: B. And so with unfailing love, I have drawn you to myself.  4Again, I will build you up, and you will be rebuilt, virgin Israel. Again, you will play your tambourines and dance with joy. 5 Again, you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; farmers will plant and then enjoy the harvests. 6 The time will come when the watchmen shout from the highlands of Ephraim: “Get ready! We’re going up to Zion to the Lord our God!” 7The Lord proclaims: Sing joyfully for the people of Jacob; shout for the leading nation. Raise your voices with praise and call out: “The Lord has saved his people, the remaining few in Israel!” 


  1. Audience Engagement: “Last place I looked..”
    1. Speaking of looking, is anyone here a master finder of lost things?
    1. Growing up: who always found the most easter eggs?
    1. How does your family do egg hunts?

TRANSITION: SERIES CONCLUSION Over the course of this series, starting at Ash Wednesday, we have been on a seeking journey. We’ve dwelt in questions rather than racing to answers. Today, we get to a culminating question: Who Are You Looking For?

  1. Gospel Context: John’s Gospel focuses on Jesus’ divinity. This guy is more than human, he is God with us.
    1. Once again: each of the gospel authors have a different goal in mind when they share the story of Jesus. You’ll notice they each tell the story of Easter a little different – I mean Mark doesn’t even show us the resurrected Jesus.
    1. BUT they all share the key detail: The Tomb is Empty.

MAIN TEXT: John 20:1-18 Early in the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him.” Peter and the other disciple left to go to the tomb. They were running together, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and was the first to arrive at the tomb. Bending down to take a look, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he didn’t go in. Following him, Simon Peter entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there. He also saw the face cloth that had been on Jesus’ head. It wasn’t with the other clothes but was folded up in its own place. Then the other disciple, the one who arrived at the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. They didn’t yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to the place where they were staying. 11 Mary stood outside near the tomb, crying. As she cried, she bent down to look into the tomb. 12 She saw two angels dressed in white, seated where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and one at the foot. 13 The angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” She replied, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put him.” 14 As soon as she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabbouni” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Then she told them what he said to her.


  • Good Friday: On Good Friday, we learned in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus was laid in the tomb by Joseph of Arimathea (John’s Gospel adds the Pharisee Nicodemus). After the burial, the women were hanging out in front of the tomb at the end of Good Friday. It’s no wonder that the women are the first to see Jesus.
  • Mary at the Tomb
    • John tells us it was only Mary Magdalene present on Easter morning to witness the empty tomb.
    • This death had been so traumatic and controversial, her rabbi and Messiah was executed as a blasphemer and traitor to Rome. Being associated with such a controversial man would have been dangerous, yet she risks it all to go to the cemetery to sit by the tomb.
    • THEN she arrives on Easter Sunday and the tomb is EMPTY!
    • WHO TOOK THE BODY?! Hasn’t he dealt with enough shame and harassment?!?
  • The Gardener: She is so distraught; Mary doesn’t even recognize Jesus standing before her. She assumes he was the gardener of the cemetery.


  1. Have you ever wondered: What did Mary come to the tomb to seek? Did she simply want to cry at the tomb? Was she guarding his tomb from foul play? Was she hoping Jesus’ words would come true?
    1. Whatever she was seeking – she didn’t recognize the resurrected Messiah.
  2. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: 2 volunteers: Draw a picture of Jesus (invite kids forward at the beginning to color on the floor)
    1. Have lot’s of colors available
  3. Jesus grew up in Israel—the Middle East—he likely was a brown man with black hair and brown eyes. Yet most famous paintings we see of Jesus he has VERY white skin, blue eyes and either blonde, light brown, or red hair.
    1. THEN there are artistic depictions of Jesus from around the world
    1. Iconodules vs Iconoclasts


  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What does Jesus look like to you? Does it make you uncomfortable to see Jesus looking different?
    1. Who are you looking for?
    1. Does God have room to surprise you?
  2. I invite you this Easter to be surprised by God.
    1. Perhaps this is the year that God shows you new things about God’s self.
    1. This could be the year that we stop putting God in a box (or picture frame).
    1. This could be the year we are filled with curiosity and a season of discovery.

CONCLUSION: This Easter Sunday – Who are you seeking? Are your eyes open to seeing Jesus in a new way?


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