Connections 04.09.2023: “Who Are You Looking For?”

John 20:1-18

If the question of Palm Sunday—“Who is this?”—is a good one, the question of Easter may be a better one.

“Who are you looking for?”

“Who is this?” is a question of knowledge, recognition, understanding. We can give a multiple-choice answer (PICK ONE: Lord, Savior, Redeemer, Teacher, Prophet, King, All of the Above), or we could write an essay or a poem or even create a painting or a song describing what we know about Jesus.

But “Who are you looking for?” is a question of intent, desire, hope. “Who are you looking for?” is a question about us.

On the first Easter morning, before sunup, Mary Magdalene goes to Jesus’s tomb. As soon as she sees that the stone has been moved, she runs to tell the disciples. Peter and the other disciple come running back with her, and they, too, witness Jesus’s empty tomb. They return home, having not yet witnessed resurrection, but Mary stays “weeping outside the tomb” (v. 11). Suddenly the tomb is no longer empty; there are two angels sitting where Jesus’s body had been. And outside the tomb, someone walks up to the weeping woman. It is probably the gardener, here to take up his work now that the Sabbath has ended. He asks her, “Who are you looking for?”

We know (and so will Mary, in a minute) that this is no workaday gardener, but Jesus making his first post-resurrection appearance to his first post-resurrection apostle. His question may seem innocent—a clever way to prompt Mary to turn around, to look at him, to listen to him, to see and hear the good news. But “Who are you looking for?” is not just a lead-in to the big reveal of resurrection. “Who are you looking for?” is the core question for those who would follow Jesus both in his life and beyond his death.

“Who are you looking for?” is the question he asked the first disciples (Jn 1:38) and it’s also the question he asked the people who came to arrest him (Jn 18:4, 7). We may understand who Jesus is, but “Who are you looking for?” distinguishes disciples from detractors. We may have all the right answers, but we still have a choice. Every Easter, every Sunday, every moment, we have to ask ourselves who it is we want to follow. Who are we looking for? A body to mourn and memorialize? A king to conquer our enemies? A teacher to give us the answers? A savior to protect us from hell?

A lamb on the way to the slaughter?

A Lord who is risen, indeed?


  • What do you think is the difference between knowing the answer to “Who is this?” and “Who are you looking for?” Which question are you more comfortable with? Which one is more challenging? More inspiring? More interesting? More personal?
  • How might your answer to “Who are you looking for?” vary in different times and circumstances? Does it change as your understanding of who Jesus is expands or evolves?
  • Do you think it is possible to have the right answers to who Jesus is, but to be “looking for” something or someone different?
  • Some parts of who Jesus is can be the hardest parts for us to follow. How can we be intentional about “looking for” the ways Jesus is present with us and leading us even when it is painful?
  • Mary Magdalene did not yet know Jesus was resurrected when she answered his question. On this Easter, as you reflect on Jesus’s resurrection and your new life in him, how would you answer his question, “Who are you looking for?”

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is the lead editor of Connections. She is a graduate of Samford University and Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and as a military spouse has had nine (at last count) different hometowns in the past 20 years. She and her husband Scott and sons Sam and Levi live in the Washington D.C. area. In recent years, Nikki has written Smyth & Helwys curricula as well as devotionals for and Baptist Women in Ministry. She weaves clergy stoles, knits almost anything, and dreams of making her dreadful novel drafts into readable books. She blogs about faith and making things at


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