In movies and media today, savvy viewers know to look for “Easter eggs.” Reminiscent of the egg hunts we experienced as children, movie directors and software creators offer these Easter eggs as inside jokes, hidden messages, or even secret clues to a deeper meaning or revelation of what might come next—usually in the next installment of that particular show or movie. Along with beautiful poetry, vivid imagery, and meaningful contrasts such as light/dark, ordinary/extraordinary, insiders/outsiders, death/life, John’s Gospel is full of Easter eggs.
Look back to the first verse of this chapter. As is often the case with this gospel, John’s account of Jesus’ resurrection is a little different from those in the other gospels. The other narratives begin at sunrise, but John drops an Easter egg with “while it was still dark” (20:1), conjuring up Genesis and the beginning of everything: “in the beginning… the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep” (1:1-2).
Mary and the rest of Jesus’ followers are suffering the deep pain of death and separation. Perhaps the loss of their friend pales in comparison to the loss of their hope. Darkness has settled in. John drops a second hint of what is to come, however, as Mary mistakes Jesus for a gardener. In the garden of creation and in the garden of the tomb, God is at work in the darkness, bringing forth new life. Could new life begin anywhere else? As Barbara Brown Taylor writes, “new life starts in the dark. Whether it is a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb, it starts in the dark.” Much of God’s best work begins in the darkness.
When have you been aware that God was at work in a dark time? In what ways has God shown you new life, a new beginning that started in the dark?
Loving God, open our eyes to see your presence with us in times of light and times of darkness. Send your Holy Spirit to create new life in our dark places. Amen.