Easter can be a joyous time for followers of Christ, and there are so many aspects of it that we could explore. For example, some don’t like the name Easter prefer “Resurrection Sunday” due to the pagan origins of “Easter.” (If you want to find out more on that subject I suggest you google “origins of Easter.”) We could also look at the arguments for and against the Resurrection as there are some who say it never occurred. But those are not on the list for discussion today.
Instead I am going to make the assumption that you have some at least some belief in the Resurrection of Christ, and with that, take a look at the women who were present at the tomb. (By the way, women were not thought of very highly in this society and it is significant that each gospel records these followers as the first to see Him.)
All four gospels make record of these women and each of them has a different account of exactly who was there:
|Matthew 28:1-10||Mary Magdalene and the other Mary|
|Mark 16:1-10||Mary Magdalene, the mother of James and Salome|
|Luke 24:1-10||Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary mother of James and other women|
|John 20:1-3||Mary Magdalene (later she alludes to the fact that others were there with her)
Notice that the women mentioned and other details vary but all four have some important commonalities. Among them are the following:
- Women went to the tomb
- They all mention Mary Magdalene
- They went for the purpose of anointing Christ’s body
- They found the tomb empty
- The women then went to tell the male disciples
- There was astonishment and disbelief among His followers
If you read the four gospels, you will find others details they share as well as seeming contradictions but just keep this in mind if the differences really bother you: “each of the gospel writers probably had a different perspective on whom and what was important and reported that information.”**
But on a more personal level…let’s look at what one woman, Mary Magdalene finds at the tomb of Jesus. Mary Magdalene has been depicted as a former prostitute but all we really know about her is that seven demons were cast out of her by our Lord. I can only imagine her gratitude. I can only imagine her love for Him.
In the gospel of John, when Mary Magdalene arrives at the tomb, she is dismayed to find it empty. (Keep in mind there were probably more women with her but John only mentions her.) After she goes to the disciples, Peter and John return with her, look into the tomb, and basically just go back home. But does Mary leave? Not according to John. She decides to stay, and as she does, she begins to weep. The word weep here does not mean tears quietly running down her cheeks, but wailing or sobbing. This is what we might call “ugly crying.”
Mary then peers into the tomb again, and sees two angels who ask her “dear woman, why are you weeping?” She doesn’t realize they are angels and explains what has happened. I can imagine the sorrow in her voice as she tells them “they have taken my Lord and I don’t know where he is.” The Bible doesn’t record their answer, but she looks around and sees another man who asks her the same question. Unknown to her, this is the very Lord she is looking for but this is the living, breathing form. She wants the dead one—the body. She gives this man whom she thinks is the gardener the same answer she has given the angels. She even tells Him that she will come get the body if He knows where it is. This is such a solemn time for her, but I can’t help but chuckle a bit as she asks the living Lord to show her where the dead one is! A bit ironic perhaps? Nevertheless, I can almost feel the Lord’s longing to comfort her as He says her name, “Mary.”
Her name, He simply says her name! And it changes her life for ever. Can you imagine the joy she must have felt? The unbelievable joy as He says her name! She immediately answers “Rabboni” or Master. She probably wants to reach out to Him, but He warns her not to touch Him. I am sure she is filled with gladness beyond measure as she runs again to the disciples, this time to tell them that she has spoken to Him.
But they are still afraid. They hide. They lock the doors. But locked doors are nothing to Jesus. The Bible says He appears to them anyway, and His greeting is “peace be with you.” Considering the betrayal, desertion, and denial He suffered at the disciples’ hands, I can’t help but wonder what they thought of those words. And so much happened during that period of time after He arose. He walked around, talked with people, was seen by more than five hundred.
But in the Gospel of John, the interaction with one woman gets more attention than the five hundred. Perhaps, I’m stretching the application a bit, but I hope you realize that you as an individual are precious to God. I hope you can hear Him in His still small voice say your name or call you His child. I hope you sense His arms around you as He holds you in a very real way. He may not be here physically, but He still reaches out for us.
There is so much more to the story of the Resurrection. I pray that you truly celebrate this coming Easter and praise God that Jesus is not dead. He is not just another martyr. He is not just another religious figure, but a living Lord.
Love in Christ,
**If you would like to do more reading on the differences in these four accounts I recommend this article: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2015/how-many-women-visited-the-tomb-of-jesus/