“Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself and saith unto Him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.”
“Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping.”
Hot tears flowed from the caverns of her wretched soul.
It had been a long night.
Very early, while it was yet dark, Mary and the other women plodded their way to the sepulchre. Love brought them there. Wicked men with cruel nails had pierced Jesus’ hands and feet. His side had been torn by a sword. By contrast, these women intended to anoint His bruised body for burial. The Sabbath had prevented them from coming earlier. Now, as soon as possible, they came laden with spices and linen. Hopefully this act of love would be a sweet balm for their bleeding hearts.
Alas, even this was denied them!
The group of women traversed the familiar path. As they approached the tomb the haze of dawn illuminated the garden. Already from some distance they noticed that the stone was rolled away from the entrance to the tomb. At this point Mary Magdalene, relying upon womanly intuition, drew an immediate conclusion, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.” With this shocking evidence emblazoned upon her weary brain, Mary reversed her steps and raced back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples. Peter and John responded to her plea to come to the tomb and investigate. Before long Mary returned to the tomb, alone.
Mary wept! Nothing seemed to comfort her. Not even the presence of the angels aroused her from her stupefied sorrow. “Woman, why weepest thou?” There could be only one answer, “They have taken away the Lord.”
Till Jesus came and called her by name!
The floodgates of her soul were opened. With outstretched arms she ran to embrace Him; her only cry was, “Rabboni.”
What a joy it is to meet the living Lord.
Mary had become closely attached to Jesus. Even though it is quite impossible for us to construct the story of her life, we do learn from Scripture that Jesus had cast out of her seven devils. This alone speaks volumes concerning the deliverance Jesus had brought her. The life of every person possessed of devils, was marked by misery in one of its deepest forms. We have such accounts in the Bible. The devils would cause young or old to be cast into the fire, would throw them down on the ground and foam would come from their contorted mouths; sometimes they would follow people and bellow out insulting cries. Others who were demon possessed dwelt unclothed by the deserted tombs and would haunt passers-by. Jesus had cast seven devils out of Mary.
When Mary had experienced this deliverance by the hand of Jesus, nothing could separate her from Him. Repeatedly we read how Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary the mother of James and Joses, Salome, and Joanna along with others, followed Jesus about and ministered unto Him. Mary Magdalene was part of that faithful band. Her affinity to Christ however, was not merely in the fact that Jesus had delivered her from the clutch of the devil, but she emphatically loved to drink of the water of life freely by which one never thirsts again. The tie of faith bound her to her Lord.
This bond of faith carried her through all the dark hours of the cross. She must have heard early Friday morning that Jesus had been taken bound into Caiaphas’ house. It may well be that the disciples told the women after “the Shepherd was taken and the sheep were scattered.” Along with the faithful band that loved Him, Mary too had been troubled with the happenings of the day. She saw how Jesus was beaten by the soldiers. She witnessed the perversion of justice as the leaders of the Jews aroused the people to cry for the release of Barabbas rather than Jesus. She saw the hypocrisy of Pilate as he washed his hands. She followed Jesus as He walked the via dolorosa from the Praetorium to Golgotha. She heard Him say, “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, weep for yourselves and for your children.” The hammer blows echoed within the chambers of her mind; she could never forget them. Standing a little way off, she saw the blood that flowed from Calvary. She beheld the anguish and suffering of the Son of God in our flesh. She, too, stood silently through the three hours of darkness. She heard Him speak, though she could not understand, for as yet the mystery of godliness was not revealed. She watched as Joseph and Nicodemus took down His body. She marked the place where they laid Him, not taking the pains to discern whether His body was prepared for burial. Slowly they trudged into Jerusalem to wait for the Sabbath.
Now she was back . . . and He was gone!
Someone had stolen His body. What an agonizing thought.
The tears flowed.
Jesus knows our every sorrow, and He mcares. Of all His disciples and followers, Jesus appeared first to Mary. Some were perplexed over the empty tomb, some believed, some doubted, but only one wept, that was Mary. Jesus came first to her.
“Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?”
What a powerful question when asked by the living Lord! It must have been that here, too, Mary’s eyes were holden that she imagined that Jesus was the gardener. She looked at Jesus but did not know Him. What the eye could not now see, nevertheless was true. Mary stood in the presence of Jesus who arose from the dead. Long ago Christ has prayed through the mouth of David, “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption.” Now He had given His back to the smiters, and His tongue had held its peace before the mockers. He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter for He had given His body to be nailed to the cross. He had prayed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” He knew that He would enter into the darkness of hell, for in Gethsemane the very thought flushed from His body bloody sweat. He suffered the just wrath of God against the sins of His own. It was the only way for Him to enter into glory. On that day He walked willingly.
He died in victory. As the Son of God in our flesh, death had no power over Him except He willingly gave Himself to death. As soon as He knew that His work of redemption was finished, He called upon death to claim Him and so to bring His body to the grave in order that also there He might remove the curse forever. That curse had to be removed from every sphere of our existence. Christ bore the wrath of God so that we might never have to suffer an ounce of wrath. He was condemned so that we might be acquitted. He gave His body to be bruised in order that we might be healed from all our diseases. He descended into hell so that we might pass through death unscathed. He went into the tomb in order that the chains of the grave might be snapped and the way opened for our bodies to pass from death into life.
As our Lord He prepared this way for us. Jesus arose!
Early in the first day of the week, while the keepers slept, while the tomb was sealed, Jesus went through the grave. His body was changed, for it was sown in corruption, but raised in incorruption. It was sown a natural body, but raised a spiritual body. It was sown in weakness, but raised in power. To show this to all who cared, the angels came down from heaven and rolled away the stone. The chamber of death was opened for spectators. There one angel sat at the head, one at the feet where Jesus had lain. Between them rested the evidence that Jesus has arisen from the dead, the grave clothes still wound as it were around a body, but empty. Jesus had gone from physical death unto physical life. In His resurrected body, He was now ready for, His place of glory in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus did not return to this life, He went beyond the grave to the place of life everlasting. He arose in a body prepared for heaven.
This Mary had to see and learn.
The living Lord said to her, “Woman, why weepest thou?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, Mary answered, “Sir, if thou hast borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.”
Jesus had a simple answer, “Mary.”
That call penetrated through her dulled ears, through her troubled mind and pierced her heart. That voice she now could easily identify, that was the voice of Jesus!
I can only imagine that that call was one of loving rebuke. Did Jesus shout out in sharp criticism, “Mary!” No, He loved her. Did He say, “Mary” sarcastically? No, He loved her. He loved her. Was His voice rent in anger? No, Jesus calls firm and yet tenderly, “Mary!”
On hearing her name, Mary suddenly turned to Jesus and would openly embrace Him. Oh! her Lord was back again. What a wonderful miracle had taken place, He was dead, but now He is alive. “Now again I can dwell with Him, I can lovingly attend to His needs.” Mary with one sweeping embrace ran up to Jesus. “Rabboni,” that is, “My master.”
“Touch me not for I am not yet ascended unto my Father and your Father and to my God and your God.”
You see, Mary had carnal thoughts, she had much to learn. She imagined Jesus had come back to this earth, she had to learn that He had gone on to the other side of death, He must needs ascend into, heaven and there be embraced by His own.
Are you standing outside, the tomb, weeping?
You understand what I mean. How often have you in the midst of life forgotten or failed to believe that Jesus is truly alive and rules over our lives? Mary forgot the resurrection!
That is easy to do. When you carried a loved one to the grave, you wept, but did you weep as those who have no hope? So you are in the hospital, are you rebelling? Your son is gone to battle, are you writhing in fearful pain and sleepless nights? As a child of God you are concerned for the welfare of the church, do you resign the future in fearful dismay?
If you do, you are weeping outside the tomb. You don’t see the living Lord!
He calls you by name right now. Do you hear Him? He who is Lord over death, has conquered the devil and all his hosts. He has satisfied the righteous, demands of our God and has received all power to dwell in us now and overrule our lives. He calls us into the consciousness of this covenant life.
Don’t make the mistake Mary did. You hear him call your name? Don’t imagine He calls you to a comfortable life here; listen, “Take up thy cross and follow me.” Don’t imagine that the living Lord calls to bring peace here, “I came not to bring peace, but the sword.” Don’t imagine you will become rich in the things of this world, “It is harder for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.” Don’t imagine that He promises you untainted bliss and prosperous days all your life, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth them out of them all.”
Remember, He arose!
He is the Lord and Master over all things now, not;” to establish a kingdom in this sphere of life. No, He arose beyond the pale of death, to ascend unto our Father in heaven and there to establish Father’s house of many mansions. As our Lord, He directs all things to bring us to that glory of life everlasting.
Ye troubled ones, ye sorrowing ones bowing alongside Mary before the empty tomb. Our Lord is alive. Listen, He calls you by name!
What better response can we make, “Rabboni.”
My Lord! My Master!
Say that and we have an inner peace, no matter what the outward circumstances may be.
For Jesus is Lord! He lives!