#biblestudy #easter #hesalive #marymagdalene
2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”
Mary Magdalene has just been to the tomb and seen the stone rolled away (v. 1). She does not understand. Would any of us have understood? Of course not. The only explanation that makes sense is that someone has taken his body and moved it somewhere else. Why would anyone do that? Who knows, but how else do you explain the empty tomb?
Imagine how she must feel. She is already in terrible grief because her teacher, her friend, Jesus has died in a horrific and humiliating way. Now even the one last comfort of visiting the place of his burial has been taken away. So she runs to tell two of the disciples, Simon Peter and the “beloved disciple” we assume to be John. They are the first disciples to investigate, but they don’t understand any better than Mary (v. 9).
Did she know Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had placed him in this tomb and completed the Jewish rituals of burial on the body? I don’t think so, because she never looks for them. It would make sense to ask them if they knew what happened. Maybe they had to move the body for some reason.
Instead, she goes back to the tomb looking for answers to the questions that must be swirling in her mind. When she looks in the tomb, two angels are sitting where the body had been. All the burial cloths are there, but she is too grief-stricken to be impressed.
13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”
Then for some reason, she turns around and there’s a man she thinks must be the gardener. She asks him if he took the body, and if so, where? He speaks her name, and finally she recognizes him as Jesus (v. 16).
It intrigues me that she did not recognize Jesus when she saw him. She did not recognize him when she first heard him. But when he called her by name, she knew. Her heart must have leapt straight up to heaven where Jesus was about to go. For some reason, Jesus tells her she cannot embrace him for the moment. Wouldn’t you want to if you had just received someone you love back from the dead? But he does tell her to go to the disciples and deliver this message:
17b ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
In doing this, he commissioned her to be “the apostle to the apostles.”
Until the moment she recognizes Jesus, she is in a state of grief, questioning, and disorientation, almost to the point of despair. The mystics called this the Dark Night of the Soul. This occurs after you have encountered God in a personal way, and then you sense God’s absence. You are disoriented and maybe even despairing. But as the saying goes, it’s always darkest before the dawn. Mary Magdalene was the first to encounter the resurrected Jesus because she persevered through the grief, questioning, and everything that came with her dark night.
I feel like that has been what my journey of faith has been about, persevering through the dark night. Several times, I have felt the disorientation and questioning Mary went through. And so I find encouragement in her persevering. And now I have reached a place where some of those questions are starting to be answered. I can see the first rays of the dawn. The only thing that brought me here was perseverance. I didn’t know how to get out of those dark nights and into the light, so I persevered, because it was the only thing I knew how to do.
If you are struggling with grief, questions about God and your purpose in life, or any kind of darkness and disorientation, persevere through it. Like Mary Magdalene, you just might encounter the resurrected Christ.
And now, here’s another woman of faith to deliver the Good News more powerfully than I ever could.