Matthew 28:1-10 NLTse Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. (2) Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. (3) His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. (4) The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint. (5) Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. (6) He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. (7) And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.” (8) The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. (9) And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. (10) Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”
When Mary saw Jesus dragged through the streets, she thought her heart would never stop breaking. She followed the crowd to Golgotha praying God would intervene to save Jesus from a fate worse than death. Standing on the side of the hill, looking up at Jesus on the cross, all she could do is hold Jesus’ mother, Mary. Neither of the two could bear the sight of Jesus’ suffering. They buried they heads upon each others chest thinking the tears and sorrow would never end. Pain shot through their hearts like a knife. There was nothing to say. No amount of words could express how much they were loosing.
Before she met Jesus, Mary’s life was never easy. It seemed she would never find the love she envisioned and longed for. It always seemed as if it was only a word away. Men and promises came easily. It didn’t take long for her to learn talk is cheep. Promise after promise was broken. Words of love were easy to speak, but commitment and actions were never in the hearts she crossed paths with. Early sparks of love always erupted into torments of abuse, disaster and heart break. She tried to shut her heart off to any emotion and concept of love. To her love seemed like a game with winners, where she was always the looser. She finally admitted all hope was lost.
Then Mary met Jesus. She saw something different in Him and the lessons He taught. She wondered about His words, if they were truly from the heart. She was instantly drawn to Him, but felt there was something about herself. She felt inadequate. She remembered looking into Jesus’ face that spoke without a word telling her, “there is so much to learn.” Unlike the disciples who were called by His voice, Mary was called by passion. A desire to learn to be just like Him. Jesus taught her the only way to find true love was to change her own heart. She listened intently when Jesus taught about His relationship with God, and how the Holy Spirit could change her heart. She longed for the change inside herself, dedicated her life to God, and listened to Jesus’ every word, studied every movement, and prayed the love He had for His Father would one day be hers.
She had no idea how to return the love Jesus showed. In Jesus she saw the kind and gentile man she imagined and prayed for all her life. She knew He was different from all the rest of the men she had known. She was so confused at first. She felt ashamed, feeling she could never return the love He gave in His look, the lessons He taught in His words. She remembered saying, “no matter how much I do for my Lord, it will never be enough.”
For the first time in her life she felt a unique joy in her heart every time she saw Jesus hold a child, the smile on his face when He played with the children. She felt a song of praise in her heart every time Jesus healed a person who came to Him. She felt she could not hold in her joy as she waited for the next miracle which seemed to be greater than the last. She often burst out in song and praise to her Master and to God for granting Him the power. Her heart was filled with peace. A greater peace with every word He spoke. Watching Jesus taught her how to share her joy with others. Mary thought there was no other love in this world that could compare to the love flowing from Jesus. She longed to express her feeling to Him, but the words never came to her. Thinking of Him on the cross and not being able to express her love was more than she could bear. It seemed the love and joy was now clawing away inside her, trying to get out, but to her it seemed as if it no longer had a place to go.
Mary looked at Jesus’ mother, praying she could comfort her, but could not think of a thing to say or do. She knew there was nothing in this world that could ever ease the pain. All she could do is keep praying God would one day take away the pain from herself and Mary, Jesus’ mother. As she cried on Mary’s shoulder, she wondered what hurt more, never telling Jesus how much He was loved, or lacking the ability to comfort His mother.
When the sun was blocked and darkness covered the land, Mary hoped God would end the world at that moment. She wondered what it would be like in Heaven, to see Jesus once again. No more pain, suffering or death. She remembered the feeling of being with Him in Heaven as she anointed Him and washed His feet with her tears. That was the closest she came to expressing her love and gratitude. It didn’t seem to be enough. She never thought her tears of joy would turn to tears of sorrow.
She tried to help as much as she could when James, Nicodemus and the others took Jesus from the cross. She put her ear to His chest hoping to hear a heart beat, hoping the Roman’s would not notice He was still alive. She couldn’t give up her hope and prayers as she followed them to the tomb and watched them roll the stone across the opening. As the stone shut off the final glimmer of hope from her heart, she remembered Jesus telling them He was the corner stone. As she looked at the stone, she tried to convince herself there was still hope. As darkness covered the scene, the reality of death and suffering in this cruel world began to sink in.
When evening fell John reminded Mary of the Sabbath and asked her to spend the night with him and the others. He knew they needed one another now more than ever. She hesitated, because she did not want to leave the grave. She thought if she stayed and prayed, a miracle would happen. She called out His name, “Jesus!” Nothing happened. John gave her a little more time before he put his arms around her, helped her up and on the way to his house.
That evening she laid awake crying, wondering if the tears would ever stop. She couldn’t bring herself to eat, which added to the pain inside. She looked up at the ceiling, thinking she should maybe go out and look at the stars. They didn’t bring an answer, but looking at them made her feel closer to God. She wondered where she was going to get the spices to cover Jesus’ body.
Mary still could not sleep. The pain inside was the most severe she ever felt. Words could not describe the physical torment she was feeling. It would have been more humane to die by a Roman sword. The suffering would have been shorter with fewer tears. To take her mind off the matter she began to think of where she would get the spices for His body. She remembered it was the Sabbath, and no one would be selling that day. Beside that, she had no money. She began to think of all the people who owed her a favor. Surely they would have something to spare for the Master. She made a list in her head, one person after another. As she began to plan her route to visit each in the morning, she dozed off into a deep sleep.
When she woke no one was in the house. She assumed they had left to worship at the temple. After all this was the Passover and the Sabbath. She didn’t feel like joining them at the temple. She knew how crowded it would be. Instead she would find something to eat and begin visiting people to collect the spices.
To her surprise many of her friends were still home, feeling the same distress as her. They were more than happy to share what they had. In fact, her dedication touched them in such a way, they went to their neighbors to ask for more. One neighbor after another collected small amounts of spices until bags were filled to overflowing. Like an unseen force guiding them, they found Mary as she traveled from friend to friend asking them to share what they could. As they met her in the street to offer what they collected, her heart was lifted up to God in praise and thanksgiving. She surprised the others when she returned to John’s home with two men helping her carry the bags of spices.
Early in morning, as the new day was dawning on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb, carrying the bags of spices, stopping often to rest. The labor of love, reinforced by the cheerful donations from so many people made the labor seem light. Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. The two women dropped their sacks of spices and clung to one another. In the twilight they felt like the world was about to end. As if driven by instinct they left the spices on the road and ran to the tomb.
Just before the earth shook an angel appeared at the tomb. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint. When the women arrived the angel spoke to them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying.” They carefully approached the open tomb not knowing what to expect. In such a short time their emotions swung from the greatest grief experienced in their lives, to thanksgiving when they saw all the spices gather, to a feeling of hope in the unknown which felt as if it was waiting for the proper moment to spring forth. First one then the other peered inside the empty tomb. The angel seemed so excited he instantly declared, “now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”
The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, as they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. Jesus saw the bags of spices along the road. He knew the women brought them and why. He knew this was Mary’s way of showing her love. Not only love, but unconditional love. Jesus knew Mary brought the spices because she had no idea He would not need them. It touched Jesus’ heart to think someone came to give Him something without expecting anything in return. Jesus also knew they could not have collected the spices by themselves. The angles told Him every detail of how His followers went from neighbor to neighbor collecting the spices a little here and a little there. Looking at the women, Jesus thought about this outpouring of love. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”