I keep thinking about Mary encountering Jesus in the garden post-death.
Imagine it with me if you can:
She is going there to properly take care of his dead body.
She is going there to shed a few more tears in private.
She is going there to say goodbye.
Her heart is as heavy as a led balloon.
She just can’t wake up from this nightmare.
Rising early that morning, a night wrought with bad dreams and sleeplessness, she heads directly to the grave.
Call it a moment to convince herself that He’s really gone.
Call it a part of the mourning process.
Rounding the last turn in the overgrown garden she comes upon a sight that she cannot quite explain.
Reason fails her and she is pauses a step to take in the scene attempting to comprehend it all – His grave is open. Picking up the pace, she closes in on the tomb and enters all in one quick motion. The place where they had laid Jesus is empty, it is vacant. Had the authorities changed their minds? What happened to the body of her teacher, her rabbi?
Mary runs back and gets the disciples who, upon hearing this troubling news, run to the tomb to check it out for themselves.
Fresh tears begin to well up in her eyes as a lump forms in her throat as this all takes place.
Where is Jesus?
Why had they done this?
Could they not have left Him be, allowing this one ounce of dignity?
Stepping back out of the tomb, the early sun begins to crest the horizon and spills effortlessly out upon the garden igniting it in hues of orange and red. Mary doesn’t know what to do. She is dumb-founded. Mary peers again into the tomb to make sure she has seen it correctly, as grief can often cloud the ruffled edges of judgment and understanding. Then…something catches her eye – two angelic forms standing beside the place where dead-Jesus had been laid. They speak to her. “Woman, why are you crying?” they ask…as if the meaning of death and loss meant nothing. But Mary swallows back tears and replies “They have taken away my Lord and I don’t know where they have put Him.” Uttering this very statement is like releasing the floodgates in a dam and her resolve breaks and so does her heart.
Suddenly, a shadow passes between her and the fire branded sunrise. It is the silhouette of a man. It MUST be the gardener coming to tend to the property before the hot sun engulfs and wilts the plants. It must be someone who knows something about where Jesus has be taken. Once again, the question is asked of her, this time by the man standing silhouetted in front of her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” Again Mary sniffles and forces out a tired, bitter response amidst her flowing tears “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
She is at the end of her strength.
She is beyond heart-sick.
At the very least this can be done – recovering Jesus’ body.
Then, something remarkable happens – the dead speaks.
The man before her says one word that brings water to a desert.
This one word means more than the content of thousands of words meticulously strewn together in a book.
He speaks this one word and the storms of mourning cease.
He speaks this one word and shattered pieces of her heart become whole again.
In her weakest state she recognizes just who He is.
In her tear-blurred eyes and flood of grieving heart, she finds renewed strength in His presence.
She calls out to Him by His respected title – ““Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
Mary is overwhelmed with joy.
She is filled with relief.
The sun, now in its fuller light shines upon the son of God in all of His resurrected glory.
He is alive!
I keep coming back to this story because often we too keep going to back to the empty tombs in our lives.
We keep coming up with the wrong conclusions.
Doubt casts its shadow upon our faith and it weighs heavily on us.
Doubt blurs our resolve and shakes our foundations of belief.
We stoop down into that tomb time and time again and we forget that we do not serve a dead-savior, but a risen one.
We need to look up and see Him.
We need to recognize our teacher.
We need to find Him once more for ourselves.
He wipes away our tears and longs for us to cry out to Him.
Something more to ponder today.
To God be the glory!