Now, Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are your crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put Him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are your crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward Him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that He had said these things to her.
He is risen.
Have more beautiful and life changing words ever been spoken? Wouldn’t you love to have been there that first Easter morning? Did angels fill the sky as they did at His birth? Did God Himself enter into the dark, cramped tomb and awaken His precious son? Did they laugh together as they rolled the massive stone away saying, “That will get their attention!”
That was why the stone was rolled away. Not so Jesus couldn’t exit, but so that those who came to the tomb looking for Him could see He wasn’t there.
First the women came. They came bringing spices to embalm Jesus’ body. When they saw the stone rolled away, they ran to tell the disciples. After hearing their story, John and Peter raced to the tomb and were brave enough to enter. John saw the deflated shroud and finally believed what Jesus had foretold. He understood Christ had shed the wrappings of death the way He had shed death itself.
A little later Mary Magdalene returned to the tomb alone. She didn’t know what else to do, she had lost the most precious person in her life on Friday and now his body was lost to her as well. She was heartbroken. Mary loved Jesus with a depth that only those who have been truly changed by an encounter with him can understand.
As she peered into the tomb, she saw two angels who asked her, “Why are you crying?” It must have seemed a strange question in a graveyard but the angels knew there was no reason for tears. And Mary was about to know it as well.
She turned from the tomb, and there was Jesus. Blinded by grief, she didn’t recognize him until he spoke her name, “Mary.” That voice. The same voice that had commanded seven evil spirits to leave her, once again spoke her name. She recognized the tenderness in the way Christ speaks a name. It is a balm, a hope and the most beautiful promise. It was Jesus, and he was alive!
In an instant Mary’s grief became unspeakable joy. She threw herself at Christ’s feet and longed to remain right there. But Jesus had a job for her to do. She had to tell the other’s she had seen the risen Lord. Christ sent her, His first resurrection witness, to tell His disciples, “He is alive.”
Jesus wasn’t just a good man. He wasn’t just a prophet or teacher. He WASN’T anything. He IS. He is risen and alive and we are witnesses to his resurrection. The day will come when the heavens will split open and he will come again to gather us home. We will be able to sit at His feet and gaze at His glory and bask in His holiness and love. We will cling to our Savior the way Mary wanted to in the garden. That glorious day is coming, but it isn’t here yet and until it is we have a job to do. The same job Mary had to do.
We have to be resurrection witnesses, Easter morning believers. We that have received the miracle of the empty tomb have to shout its message to our very last breath. Love and hope and grace won the war against Satan on that first Easter morning. Death is not the end and there is life on the other side of the grave!
Jesus Christ is Risen. He is Risen, indeed!
The world offers promises full of emptiness,
but Easter offers emptiness full of promise.
Empty cross, empty tomb, empty grave clothes.
All, full of promise.
~ David Jeremiah
Written by Cyndi Word, Germantown, Maryland