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Jesus' Resurrection through the eyes of Mary Magdalene

Would you join us on an adventure—a step back into the past? Easter Sunday is over! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! We celebrated Easter Sunday with all the victory songs, singing with joy and exuberance. Our vigil is over.

Do you ever pause to consider the weeks that followed the resurrection, leading up to Jesus' ascension into heaven and then the coming of the Holy Spirit? We invite you to journey with us over the next few weeks as we look through the eyes of some whose lives were changed through their encounter with the risen Christ.

Many of us are so familiar with these stories, we fail to enter the reality of how those days would have been for these who had known Jesus so well and loved him so deeply. Yes, he said he would rise again, but what did that really mean.

 Join me now on this first adventure. It is early morning; the first light is beginning to appear on the horizon. Dew is glistening on the ground. A number of women are hurrying along a pathway—shall we get closer to them? They are not talking. An atmosphere of sorrow seems to surround them. Where are they going so early in the morning?

As we get closer, I recognize some of them—Mary, the mother of Jesus; her sister; Mary, the mother of James and Joses; the mother of Zebedee's sons; and many others, including of course Mary Magdalene, Let’s join her as her pace slows, her mind racing with all that has happened in the last few weeks.

She is heartbroken. She owed her life to Him, her sanity. She remembers as if it were yesterday the moment He looked into her eyes and spoke to the demons that had been tormenting her for years. One touch, one word and she was free!

And so, in company with many other women, she stayed close as He moved around Galilee, caring for His needs and those of His disciples. So, when He announced His decision to go to Jerusalem, of course she went. Was she aware of the things he had shared with the disciples of what was to happen to Him? Possibly not. But she was there, shouting with delight as He rode that donkey (did she wonder, why a donkey?) in triumph into Jerusalem. At last! Everyone would now know how wonderful He was!

She had watched as the week unfolded and then her hope turned to disbelief, despair and anguish as the trial unfolded, and this man whose words could change anything said nothing. She had followed Him as He carried His cross, was hung, and then, from the edge of the crowd, she had waited for the miracle. Surely, He wouldn’t just hang there and die? In grief and disbelief, she had heard His last words and had watched Him take His last breath. It was all over. How could that be?

With others, she had watched Joseph of Arimathea claim His body, followed him to the grave where he gently laid the man he too had loved, and then rolled the big stone to cover the entrance to leave him in safety.  The women had gathered the spices they needed to perform one last act of love for their beloved master And then they had waited that everlasting dark day of the Passover, before they could minister to him that one last time.

So now, as they are approaching the tomb, their steps begin to falter. They remember the stone. “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb?” they wonder.  

But now...what? The stone has been rolled away! The Roman guards are lying looking as if they are dead. Looking into the tomb, they see no body—only angels, who tell them, (as angels always do), “Do not be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. He is risen just as he said. Go. Tell his disciples His disciples He is risen and will see them soon.”

The women hurry from the tomb, afraid, hardly able to believe their eyes, yet filled with hope and joy. But Mary, Magdalene, who loved him so deeply, stays outside the tomb, still unsure of what really has happened. She is weeping.

Stand with me in Mary Magdalene’s shoes for a moment. Yes, the stone was rolled away. Yes, there were angelic beings sitting where she expected to see Jesus’ body. Yes, they spoke those amazing words of reassurance—He is not here! He is risen! The other women had left to tell the disciples, hoping it really was true. But, for Mary, it was not enough. She is weeping, brokenhearted.

She looks again into the tomb. Two angels are seated there, asking her about her tears. “They’ve taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they have put him.”

Then she turns and sees someone standing by her. He too asks her why she is weeping and who she is looking for. She thinks he is a gardener and asks if he has carried Jesus away, to tell her where, and she will go get him. He says, “Mary.” She cries out in response, “Rabboni!”

I marvel at the God who cared so deeply for her. The God who waited by the tomb to reassure this dear woman of the reality of His being alive. He is present with her. Yet only to speak her name is to show her who he is. There is no reprimand to her. He meets her just as she needs him to.

This is quiet, gentle Jesus, meeting Mary in the way that affirms her grief and who she is. But, I wonder, did she fail to recognize Him because she wasn’t expecting Him to be alive?

And you? The writer to the Hebrews speaks of us “entertaining angels unawares.” (Hebrews 13:2) Do we too fail to recognize His presence with us because He is not providing what we think we need? He knows what you need. Will you let go of your fear, your disappointment, your longing for things to be different? Maybe, like Mary, you have had encounters with Jesus in the past, but today life looks overwhelming. Will you sit still and wait…wait for His voice saying your name and know that all will be well.

Jesus’ resurrection changed everything. We are planning to journey with several over the next few weeks and unpack how He met each at their point of need. And yet...the adventure would eventually take a turn none of them expected or wanted. These weeks that led up to His leaving and the Holy Spirit coming were a time of preparation for what lay ahead. We will marvel as a group of scared young men, who ran away from their beloved master in His time of need, were transformed into the courageous group who would change their world!

Jesus is with you. The Holy Spirit fills you as much as you make Him welcome. There is life and more life ahead for you! There is always hope.  Are you in a place like Mary was where it is hard to recognize His presence? Spiritual Direction offers a safe place for you to sit and someone to help you listen and unfold God’s invitation to you in your life as it is right now. Contact us if that sounds like something that you would appreciate.

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