Averyell A. Kessler
Two days had passed since Mary Magdalene watched him die, and she was sinking in misery. She had not eaten or slept. She had not spoken a single word. The man who had transformed her life was gone and there was no hope. On that perilous day, her heart shattered as she witnessed him suffer while cruel men mocked and tormented him. As she heard him cry out and give up his spirit, she fell on the ground weeping. Had God truly forsaken him?
When darkness covered the land, it took root in her soul, flooding her with despair. There was nothing left for her now. The man who had blessed her with healing, grace and forgiveness, had lost his own battle with darkness.
Nighttime was the worst. As she lay in bed, painful memories rose to torment her. She relived the days when her spirit was empty and her life not her own. Then he appeared, Yeshua, the carpenter from Nazareth, whose presence shown like the morning sun. At first, he seemed to be an ordinary man, but she discovered that he was unlike anyone she had ever known. His words were bright as flame, flickering in her heart. His love for his fellows without measure. He was the Son of Man. She was sure of it.
She began to follow him, joining Peter, James, John and others of his band as he traveled from town to town telling of God’s love. She stood amazed as he drove out disease and gave sight to the blind. She rejoiced as he explained that the poor in spirit would inherit the kingdom of God and that those seeking peace were the children of God. And wonder of wonders, she watched in disbelief as he called his friend Lazarus back from the dead.
And now this. Despite all the things she had seen him do and his wondrous promises, the end had come. Now he lay in the cold, stony arms of death. His disciples had fled and were hiding, lest they meet the same bloody end. What next? What could possibly happen? His life had been snuffed out in the prime of his youth, and she was haunted by shadows of what might have been. But the worst was coming. The Sabbath had ended, and she’d agree to accompany his mother and others to the tomb to anoint his body according to their custom.
On the first day of the week, she rose before dawn and dressed for the ordeal ahead. Gathering a selection of herbs and ointments, she left her home as the sun was peeking above the horizon, walking silently because there was nothing to say. A new day had come without his presence in her life. She dreaded seeing him again, wrapped in graveclothes and the stillness of death. But she had promised.
As she approached the tomb, Mary Magdalene noticed that the day seem brighter than usual. The sky was clear and cloudless. The air was cool but scented with jasmine and wildflowers. Somehow, it did not seem like a place of death. Then, a shock. The stone enclosing the tomb had been moved aside leaving a gaping hole at the entrance. How was this possible? Perhaps the evil men who tormented him had opened it and stolen his body. Why would someone do such a thing? He gone now; he can do you no harm. Again, tears flooded her eyes. Suddenly, she saw them. Two men standing inside the tomb where only his graveclothes remained. Their faces glowed with radiant light, their flowing garments a flawless white. “They are angels,” she whispered. Trembling with fear, she knelt, hiding her face in her hands. Then one spoke, asking a simple question that changed the course of human history.
“Why seek ye the living among the dead?” The answer was simple also, but even more powerful because it forms the bedrock of Christian belief.
“He is not here, he is risen.”
Mary Magdalene looked up, staring directly into the angel’s eyes. “Remember how he spoke to you in Galilee,” the angel said. “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, but on the third day, rise again.”
Finally, she understood. Death had not defeated Yeshua. It was the other way around. Yeshua had defeated death. The morning that began in sorrow and anguish became one of indescribable joy.
There’s an old hymn called “I Love to Tell the Story.” I’m certain that is what Mary Magdalen did for the rest of her life. She told the disciples first, then anyone who would listen.
“I was there,” she said. “I was the first to see and the first to tell. His tomb was empty and will remain so. Yeshua is risen! He has opened a way for us all.”
Alleluia, Christ is risen
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.