I'm a "high view of scripture" evangelical. But I'm becoming increasingly convinced that our view of scripture is, in fact, far too low. We self-styled, supposedly "biblical" evangelicals are not scriptural enough; we need to take scripture more seriously.
So this Easter, let's see an astonishing parallel between the Hebrew Bible's Song of Songs and the weeping Mary's encounter with the stranger in the garden.
The scene for both is a woman at night-time. Each woman is in anguish and alone, in the near-dark. Each leaves the safety of her house and ventures into the dangers of the night; one into a city, one beyond even its relative safety. Each encounters an unknown man, yet one (watchman or gardener) who has a right to be there in those twilight hours.
Now, consciously imagine yourself into the narratives…
|Song of Songs 3:1–4||John 20:1, 11–18|
|All night long…||While it was still dark…|
|…I will get up now and go about the city, through its streets and squares; I will search for the one my heart loves. So I looked for him but did not find him.||…Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that it was empty. (She reported to the disciples:) "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!"|
|(Interlude with two disciples. But they depart. She is alone, she thinks, at the tomb.)|
|The watchmen found me as they made their rounds of the city.||"Woman," (said the man standing there) "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said:|
|"Have you seen the one my heart loves?"||"Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."|
|Scarecely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves.||Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned towards him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).|
|I held him and would not let him go…||Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, …"|
|… till I had brought him to my mother's house, to the room of the one who had conceived me.||"…for I have not yet returned to my Father. …" (As John had earlier told us, "He was in the beginning with God.")|
|Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you… do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.||"…Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdelene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!"|
"Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green."
Those Gospel writers, in deploying such similarity and contrast, knew their scriptures and knew how to use them creatively! How well can we say that we know them?