Mary Magdalene meandered through the pre-dawn stillness, passing silent graves. Other women, her new sisters of faith, followed behind her at a distance with spices in their hands.
I still can’t believe He is gone.
Images of His bloodied face, hands, and feet etched themselves in her memory, reopening the wound in her heart with each remembrance.
What will we do now?
Her hope had died three days ago, but her love for Him did not. His presence would forever be with her, felt in the newfound freedom of her soul.
It wasn’t too long ago that the dark demons at war within her – crippling her mind and shaming her with sin – suddenly vanished at His Word. With His hand her 7 tormentors screamed with defeat, leaving without a trace.
She couldn’t help but follow Him – to give her life serving the one who gave her life back. As the days passed she witnessed even grander wonders than her own. She grew in awe of His profound teaching and quiet grace, making it clear as day that He was the Messiah.
But why then did He die? her mind whispered.
Shaking away these thoughts, she peered into the now gray horizon.
The tomb should be around here. Right there. But wait – where is the door’s stone?
Fear trickled down her heart.
I must tell Peter and John!
The men had sprinted ahead of her, their shock sending them both into a frenzied race.
By the time she made it back to Jesus’s resting place they were gone, the tomb’s door still gaping open.
The wrongness, the injustice of it all overwhelmed her – the Perfect One, my Lord, given a criminal’s death and now a criminal’s burial. Who would do such a thing?
Tears started dripping down her face, one by one, until a cascade from both eyes dampened her face.
Oh, Jesus, what has happened to you? The question that had haunted her the past few days pierced even stronger.
She dared to look inside the cave, to see where He would have laid…
“She saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet, where Jesus’ body had been lying. They said to her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“Because they’ve taken away my Lord,” she told them, “and I don’t know where they’ve put Him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not know it was Jesus.
“Woman,” Jesus said to her, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Supposing He was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you’ve removed Him, tell me where you’ve put Him, and I will take Him away.”
Jesus said, “Mary.”
Turning around, she said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!”—which means “Teacher.” (John 20:12-16, HCSB)
Mary Magdalene was the first person Jesus appeared to after resurrecting.
We don’t know why – maybe it was her faithfulness? Maybe it was a gift of grace to a woman who visited the grave before any other disciple, a woman redeemed from a very grim past? Her heartbroken presence at the tomb speaks of a deep love, and in His kindness Jesus comes to her.
Like the whisper the Father sends to Elijah, Jesus the Son speaks tenderly to his dear servant.
“Why are you crying? Who is it you’re looking for?”
Those questions strike me to the bone, in the best way.
I often encounter struggles in my daily grind that remind me of my guilt and shake my human pride – I’ll never be a good enough Christian, wife, mom, friend…
Or, this situation is too much to bear.
On days where I hit rock bottom, losing sight of the Gospel, I can come near to the point of weeping.
Weeping over my brokenness. Weeping over the world’s brokenness.
Have you ever been there, sister?
Mary was. And Christ’s questions to her were good ones, ones we should ponder. In heartbreak we have so many questions, and He silences them all with beautifully basic questions of His own:
Why are you crying?
And who are you seeking?
Is it Me?
No matter what our heart is telling us, Christ calls us as He called Mary. He calls us to see that He is alive.
In our pain, in our heartbreak, in our sin, Jesus wants us to celebrate Him and His victory, because He is ours and His victory is ours.
Note that once Jesus says her name, Mary recognizes Him. In the darkest of mornings, her persistent faith turns to sight. Like a sheep who knows its shepherd’s voice, Mary knows her Master, her Lord.
Is Christ your Lord? Hear His voice in these Scriptures, be freed from your sin or heartache, and respond with rejoicing! Hope is alive.
Hear Him say, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Hallelujah, He is risen! Soon, very soon, He will return, and like Mary our joy will be made manifest.