Have you ever wondered what it was like to be one of Jesus’ disciples and followers? Simple people leading ordinary lives suddenly thrown into a miraculous supernatural world! Imagine the miracles they witnessed, the teachings they heard and the amazing example of love they observed every day for three years. Yet, it was not always joy and happy times. Gradually, somber moments crept in that they could not miss much less understand. Moments like the increasing challenges and threats from the Pharisees and Sadducees. Perhaps even more troubling were Jesus’s words alluding to his death. They had seen Him heal the sick and even raise the dead. They believed He was the Messiah, the Son of God. How could He die? Their reaction to His death is what I ask you to consider in this season.
Through the Eyes of A Healed Woman
One of His constant companions was Mary Magdalene. I have often wondered what it would be like to see the last events of Jesus’ life through her eyes. She became a believer when Jesus cast out seven demons from her. For the first time she knew what it was like to be unconditionally loved. She was beyond devoted. She hung on every word and gesture. She not only loved Him but He was her source and life as well. She believed He was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel from Roman rule and make them great again. She saw Him as the mighty conqueror they all expected. It had looked inevitable when they entered Jerusalem on that last Sabbath day. Crowds of people lining the road, waving palm branches, and cheering Him.
Imagine her anxiety when public opinion turned against Him. What it was like for her to learn of His arrest and trials. She saw Him mocked, tortured, whipped, and sentenced to be crucified. How could their cheers so quickly turn into the jeers and curses they were hurling at Him as He hung on the cross? Hanging there, scarred beyond recognition, she would stay with Him to the end. She watched Him die. If they were to bury him before the Sabbath began, they had to work fast. Mary watched Joseph of Arimathea take Jesus’ body from the cross and followed them to the tomb he had prepared for himself. She was sitting across from the tomb when they rolled the huge stone over the entrance.
Now, It Seemed, Their Hope Was Buried
He was gone! The Master who accepted her and loved her in spite of her sin was gone! What was she to do now? Where was she to go? Can you imagine how hopeless and alone His followers must have felt? The life of Jesus was over, no more teacher, no more friend who loved them. NO MORE MESSIAH! Their grief was beyond belief through Friday and the Sabbath.
Yet, there was one more thing that Mary wanted to do for her Lord. In their haste on Friday, they prepared and buried Him as best they could. However, she was concerned that He was not properly washed and prepared for burial. On Sunday morning some of the women gathered their spices and went to the tomb. They didn’t know how they could roll the heavy stone away but they wanted to do one last thing for the Master. When they got there, they saw something that would forever change the world. The stone was rolled away.
He’s Alive! I’ve Seen the Lord
Matthew 27:1 says, “There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and going to the tomb rolled back the stone and sat on it. …The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; He is risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He was laying. Then go quickly and tell His disciples.”
Mary and the others started running back to Jerusalem. They ran through the streets and up steps to the room where the disciples were staying and burst through the door. “Peter! John!”, Mary cried. “He’s alive! I’ve seen the Lord. Just now in the garden… I saw Jesus. We went to the tomb early this morning to wash His body. When we got there, the stone was rolled away and an angel was sitting on it. He said Jesus was gone and that He was risen from the dead. Then, we looked inside the tomb, it was empty.
As I left the tomb, I started crying because I still thought His body had been stolen. I guess I didn’t understand what the angel meant. Then I turned away and there was a man standing there. I thought he was the gardener. He asked why I was crying. I asked him to tell me where they had taken Jesus’ body. And then He said., “Mary,” and I recognized His voice. It was the Lord! It was Jesus! He’s alive and His hands and feet show the marks of what they did to him. He’s not dead anymore. He’s Alive!”
Her horrific grief had suddenly turned into JOY. Outrageous, Inexpressible, Boundless JOY. That is the same message we celebrate today. In two thousand years it hasn’t changed.
Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25