Sabbath came and went. I slept little and moved as if in a dream. I kept hoping I would waken to find the nightmare over. I remember walking numbly to the edge of town and sitting beside the empty tomb where Lazarus had been buried. There I recalled that Jesus had said, "I am the resurrection and the life."
He had given life to others. How could it be that His own could be taken? When Lazarus came forth, I had thought that death had met its match. Now the grave had taken Him who said that He was the way, the truth and the life. Death was victorious after all, and even the best of men could not prevent its sting. Such were my thoughts as the hours dragged painfully by.
Out of exhaustion I finally slept a few hours during the second night after Jesus' death. Some time after midnight I awoke with the overwhelming desire to return to the tomb where Jesus was. I knew that the tomb was sealed and that a Roman guard had been posted. I knew that it would be impossible to see His body, but I just wanted to be near Him. I had always known comfort in His presence before; perhaps the same could still be mine even now. And so in tears I walked the two or three miles to Jerusalem.
Along the way, I met Joanna, Salome and Mary the mother of James taking more spices to the tomb. I joined them and we continued walking together. About a mile from the grave we were suddenly thrown with violence to the ground. The earth heaved and shook and a sound like thunder filled my ears. In the distance I could hear the clatter of rocks tumbling down a hillside, and my heart became fearful. Was this death's way of boasting, or was all creation groaning without Jesus?
The tremors subsided, and cautiously we rose to our feet. We continued toward the tomb, wondering whether the quake had disturbed His body or affected the hillside that contained His grave. It had! The guard had fled, but how I wished they had stayed, for the sepulcher was rent and Jesus' body had been taken.
My grief knew no bounds! Not only was Jesus dead, but they had taken away his body, and I did not know where they had taken Him. Being robbed of His body was more injustice then I could bear. In despair I turned and ran to tell the disciples.
When Peter and John heard the news, they raced to the tomb, and I followed, some distance behind. By the time I got there, they had gone, and I was alone. I went to the entrance of the tomb and looked inside.
Through my tears I saw two men sitting where the body of Jesus had lain. One of them asked why I was crying, and I told him that I had wanted to be near Jesus but that someone had taken His body and I didn't know where it was. I didn't feel like talking more, so I turned away, and when I did I saw Someone standing in my path. It was another Man, and he too asked me why I was weeping.
At his question I began sobbing uncontrollably. I tried to talk, but could only moan. I struggled to gain composure, but it would not come. I thought He was the gardener, and brokenly I tried to ask if He knew where they had taken my Lord.
Perhaps Joseph's sepulcher was considered too fine for a carpenter. If that was the case, I knew of another empty tomb just outside of Bethany. I could take Him there if they would let me. Through my tears, I told Him so.
And then I heard Him speak my name. "Mary," He said, and my heart stood still. "Mary!" It was Jesus!
I fell at His feet and cried, "Master!"
He told me not to touch Him yet, and then He gave me a message for His friends. He said that He was going to the Father and that everything was going to be all right. I'd heard Him talk about "going" before. At that time He had said He would come again and receive us to Himself. He said we would be able to be with Him there, and now that is what I live for.
One day He will do for others what He did for our family and for Lazarus. He will come to waken His friends from their long sleep. I expect to hear Him call my name again then. I understand He plans to give us each a crown and I can hardly wait to cast mine at His feet!
Lesson 9 - Conclusion