It was very early as Mary Magdalene set out for the tomb. The gathering halo of dawn was providing just enough light to reveal the stones in her path. The birds were sounding the first notes of a song of rejuvenation as the world began to draw a new breath. A breath of life. Mary hardly noticed this stir of life, overpowered by her own burden of grief that she hoped to, at least partially unload at Jesus’ tomb. She had set out early, hoping to spend a little time there alone before the others met her to perform the final task of anointing his body with spices. She knew it was only his body now in that tomb, but maybe she would feel some stirring of life, some lifting of this oppressive fog of sorrow if she could just be close to him. Mary had barely slept the last couple of interminable nights, but it wasn’t sleeplessness that brought her out so early. It was the burden of unspoken words. The events of Friday had happened so quickly that she hadn’t been given the chance to talk to him one last time, to make sure that he knew the depth of her gratitude, the immensity of her affection, and the purity of her love. Now she was drawn to be close to him to say those words even though he couldn’t hear them. She needed to be relieved of some of this burden before it crushed the fragment of life left in her after the death blow of the crucifixion.
Along the way Mary Magdalene reflected with loathing on the sneering Pharisees she had seen at the cross. Jealous and fearful men who had stolen Jesus from her. The type of men who had stolen much from her over the years. Their cynicism looked so foolishly arrogant in the presence of Jesus’ love. Jealousy looked so pitifully self-serving in the presence of Jesus’ love. Unbelief and apathy seemed impossible in the presence of Jesus’ love. How could you not respond to this kind of love? Mary was familiar with love that whispered in the night, but was silent in the light of day. She had known the rough embrace of lust, but from Jesus she had experienced the pure embrace of love in her soul. She had thirsted for this kind of love and received only the cheap, bitter wine of unfaithfulness and disappointment. But, you could lose yourself in the intoxication of Jesus’ love. This was love that found you wandering alone, cold and frightened and brought you home. This was love that looked through the hardened layers of shame and saw something worthy of restoring. Mary Magdalene had needed that restoration, for Mary’s life had become a ramshackled palace. Once a place of beauty and hope and promise, but too many visitors invited in had abused the structure. Too many wild parties thrown within these walls. Too many broken parts that were never repaired. She could dress it up with fresh paint, but it was an unconvincing facade. That was before Jesus. He had come through like a one man wrecking crew. Knocking down walls, letting light into dark corners, scraping away layers of grime, restoring everything touched by decay. And most incredibly He had thrown out the abusive tenants and invited in the royal presence of God. How could you not respond to this kind of love? This was an exotic love, from another world. The centurion who oversaw the crucifixion had said it simply and yet eloquently; “indeed this was the son of God”.
Mary Magdalene gasped and a coldness suddenly raced through her. She was standing at the entrance of an open, empty tomb. How could they have done this? They took his life and now they had taken even his body. They robbed her of Jesus, and now in this final indignity they had robbed her of the chance to come near and speak her words of overwhelming gratitude. Oh, if only! If only He hadn’t come to Jerusalem, If only he hadn’t angered the Pharisees, If only he had crept away in night - - if only - if only - if only He were here now, everything would be right ---
and then He called her name -
and He called my name -
do you hear Him calling you?