We get to take a peek at Mary Magdalene’s personal visit with Jesus today. Yesterday we saw her going to the tomb with the other women to anoint Jesus’ body. She comes back with Peter and John, after she tells them the news.
Yesterday in our reading the women left the tomb but didn’t tell anyone straight away. They ran away in fear. Their encounter with the angel didn’t fill them with joy. It left them with questions instead. These women had been traveling with Jesus for some time and had no doubt been there when Jesus raised people from the dead; Lazarus being the most obvious one. But Jesus wasn’t there in their minds. He couldn’t raise anyone because He was dead Himself. So how could He rise? The question, “What did the angel REALLY mean?” is running through their minds.
Mark’s account shortens the account of Mary’s activities quite a bit. John’s gospel has a fuller account of her encounter as well as her movements that morning. There are still a few questions I want to ask when “bench time” comes. I’m having a hard time staying with Mark’s synopsis so I’m going to be including events from John’s account too.
They have seen that Jesus’ body is missing though. So where is He? Mary went to tell Peter and John about her fears. She believed someone stole Jesus’ body and hid it somewhere. My question to Mary would be, “Why would they do that? It would make it LOOK like Jesus had risen and that was the LAST thing that any of the religious leaders wanted to portray. So He really must have gotten up Himself, don’t you think?”
Once Mary tells Peter and John that Jesus’ body is missing they run as fast as they can to the tomb. Mary follows along too but she is a bit slower than the men. Peter and John examine the evidence inside the tomb. Jesus’ burial wrappings are empty and the cloth that covered His head isn’t with the rest of the trappings. What could this mean??? SOMETHING happened here, but what? After receiving this puzzling information, Peter and John leave. They are probably going back to where they were staying or possibly going to meet up with the other disciples.
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Mary is left alone at the tomb. Tears are flowing down her face. Peter and John didn’t provide her with any answers. Were they just as confused as she was? They didn’t even give her any instructions before they left. Mary is heartbroken at the thought of not knowing where Jesus’ body was taken.
Still weeping, she looks inside the tomb. The angels from earlier is there again. One of the angels speaks to her. “Woman, why are you weeping?” (John 20:13). Between her sobs Mary replies, “Because someone has taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they put His body!” She doesn’t wait for an answer from the angel. She already heard them earlier today. They just confused her. She simply turns away from the tomb.
Standing a few feet away is a man. Mary assumes he is the gardener. Maybe he will give me a straight answer. Maybe he is the one who took Jesus away. The man speaks to her. He says the same words as the angel. “Woman, why are you weeping?” Then he adds, “Whom are you seeking?” (John 15). Mary is beside herself at this point. She is hurting, she is angry, and she wants some answers! “If you are the one who carried Him off, just tell me! Tell me where you put Him PLEASE!” Frustrated, she turns away.
Jesus smiles a little as He gently says her name, “Mary.”
Mary’s breath catches in her chest. “That’s HIS voice!” She turns around and looks a little closer at the man in front of her. “That’s HIS eyes!” Full realization finally dawns. “THIS IS MY LORD!!!” “Teacher!” All she wants to do is fall on Him and weep for joy! She reaches out towards Him.
Jesus stops her with a word. “Wait Mary. I’m not done yet. You can’t touch Me. I haven’t yet ascended to Heaven to talk with My Father. For now, go tell My brothers what you have witnessed.”
“Yes Jesus! I’ll do that right now!” Mary grabs her skirt and runs as fast as she can. She may even be running faster than Peter and John did earlier. She has a much better reason to run now!
Mary ran to where Peter and John were. As she reaches them she is nearly breathless. “What’s wrong Mary?” asks Peter.
“I have just seen Jesus! He spoke to me personally. He told me to come and tell you about it.”
“I’m sorry Mary. I know how distraught you are over His missing body. Maybe you imagined it as a way of helping you cope with the loss. We are all feeling that loss too. I have no idea how to go on without Him. I don’t know how we are ever going to find where they put Him either.”
“But Peter, didn’t you hear me? I said I have just seen Him!”
“Please Mary. No more of this.”
“But why won’t you believe me?”
Peter shakes his head and turns back to the group of Jesus disciples. Mary shakes her head. There is nothing more she can say, after all, she is only a woman. She knows she met Jesus so she at least no longer mourns His loss. Now she mourns for His disciples. Their pain is still evident.
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Lord Jesus, it is so like You to appear to one of the least in society first. The same thing happened at Your birth with the shepherds. You came to give strength to the weak, among other reasons. You just decided to start there first. Thank You that Your attitudes towards the weaker members has changed the attitudes of the world.
Why didn’t John mention the angels in the tomb when He and Peter looked? Were they absent at that time? Was their presence only for the women? They were there when Your tomb was opened because they scared the soldiers spitless! When Peter and John arrived they looked at the physical evidence only. John says in his account that “they believed.” What did they believe? Did they believe Mary’s first account that You had been taken away or did they believe that You had somehow come out of Your bandages? I have a feeling it is the former reason; otherwise they would have believed her second account. You didn’t leave them in mourning for too much longer though.
Thank You for the preponderance of the evidence that PROVES beyond a shadow of a doubt that You did exactly as You said You would do. You rose from the grave. A feat that NO OTHER religious leader has ever done. Your word is concrete. EVERY promise You made will come to pass, both good and bad. Thank You that You have told us what is ahead too. Because of Your past “performance” we can also trust You with tomorrow. We may not understand it all, but we KNOW that what You have said will happen WILL HAPPEN. The best promise in all of them though is the one where You said that You will never leave me or forsake me. I am safe in Your arms, no matter what tomorrow brings.