On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb where they had lain Jesus’ body, hoping to care for the body and pay her final respects to Jesus of Nazareth, her now slain leader, spiritual teacher, and friend. She, along with so many of Jesus’ disciples were distraught at his crucifixion. She was unable to deal with the death of the most important person in her life—the person who offered her so much hope—and I’m sure could not understand how someone so good, teaching a message so inspiring could be gone so quickly.
Finding the tomb empty, she ran in haste to let the disciples know that His body was missing, causing a few of them to run to see for themselves. Seeing the empty tomb, all but Mary went away wondering who had taken the Lord’s body, and she remained behind weeping.
Angels appeared to her to say that the Savior was not there, but had risen. Not understanding what that meant, she continued to weep until another approached her and asked her “Woman, why weepest thou?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, Mary pled with Him to let her know where the body of her Lord had been taken. Honestly, I don’t know—and the scripture is not clear—whether the Lord was in disguise when he first spoke to her. My honest guess is that He was not. He was not there to deceive her. Mary, like the majority of the disciples of the Lord, never really understood His prophesies regarding the resurrection, or the afterlife. They did not take his words literally, even though he clearly taught of the resurrection multiple times publicly and probably even more in private to his closest of friends and disciples. No time in the history of the world had a being been resurrected, so the concept was so foreign to them as to make it almost impossible to understand.
To His disciples, He was the best of friends. He was the wisest of teachers and most knowledgeable. He was perfect in His love for others, and never seemed to misstep in His interactions with not only His friends, but his accusers. He worked miracles, saved lives, healed the sick, and bestowed power to act in His name on his Apostles. He was the hope in an otherwise dreary world, the person who brought meaning to life, who gave each a reason to live, and who shared all that He had with others. To them, Jesus had made their lives better, and they felt an inspiration and belief that they could do anything while at His side. Then in a moment of betrayal, He was taken, accused, judged and executed after such a short ministry. How could this be? All the hope and guidance and love could not possibly be over, and yet His disciples now felt alone without their Jesus. To His followers and His detractors, Jesus was no more than a man. A great man or a menace, they viewed Him through the paradigm of any other neighbor. They did not understand His true mission. Until Easter morning.
As Mary cried to the ‘gardener’, asking for help to find her Master’s body, Jesus simply said, “Mary.” Was it the tone, the way He looked at her, or the way the Spirit of God then touched her heart? I don’t know. But I do know that Mary had the privilege in that instance of being the first to get a glimpse of what Jesus’ real mission and power were. Was He the best of friends? I’m sure. Was He an amazing teacher? The best. Was His love for his neighbors perfect? Absolutely. But Easter was the culmination of His real mission and love for each of us. He not only took upon Him all of our pains and suffering and sins, but He freely gave His life for us. How did it work? No clue. But I do know that it did. And because of that wonderful act of selfless love, an act that only He could do because He was not just a man, but literally the Son of God, each of us will live again. Each of us is able to find hope on this and every Easter morning. No amount of ugliness in this world can snuff out the magnitude and power of Jesus’ sacrifice for each of us. I know this to be true. Happy Easter.