They looked on as his beaten and pierced body was wrapped in burial cloth and laid in the tomb. The stone was put in place and a Roman detachment placed a seal on it and then stood guard. Their tears were so many that they muddied the ground where the stone now stood. For his followers it was as if that stone had been rolled on top of them cutting of the breath in the chest and the light in their life.
Mary mourned so deeply she felt her very soul ache. Her mind reeled at what had happened trying to make sense of it was impossible yet her mind would not cease trying to. The cries and moans of grief felt like they came from the deepest part of her spirit before making their way up to her lips and becoming audible. At times she wondered if she could even go on, the thought of living anymore seemed ridiculous. How could she just move forward after this? He had made her life full, his teaching, his ministry and love gave her life its purpose, the only purpose she had ever had. How could she work, how could she eat, how could she even talk with people again? It seemed wrong; it seemed it would somehow lessen what had happened what had been done to her Master. Even sleep seemed like a pleasure she should not be permitted but it was her only escape. On the Sabbath there came times throughout the day when she thought she could cry no more, then again the stark realization of a life lived without him would come crashing back into her mind as if it was new all over again, back into the pitch black pit of mourning she would fall. The day came and went with her barely making a movement from her bed. Early the following morning she heard a voice in the darkness. “Mary…Mary...Mary” the voice tried to wake her. Then an overwhelming jolt from inside her made her sit up immediately and open her swollen eyes to see Salome and John’s Mother standing before her. “Let us go and give him a proper burial” Salome said. Upon standing she felt she would fall from the weakness of fasting and mourning, seeing her unsteadiness Salome grabbed her arm as they started off.
Suddenly a new strength exploded in Mary when the thought of seeing him again struck her mind, even the thought of seeing his lifeless face brought a new determination and gave her purpose once again, purpose that the other two already seemed to have. He deserved a proper burial, the hurried manner in which he was ripped from the cross and placed in a barrowed tomb had only added to the wickedness done to him.
As she walked Mary began thinking of the imprisonment this great Rabbi had saved her from. She had lived a torturous life, thrown helplessly into bodily seizures being mentally and emotionally tortured by demons, not being able to even believe her own thoughts she had lived in bondage and without hope. She had given up completely. Until the Messiah, she remembered that day looking into his eyes and being struck like lightning with a peace and love that caused her afflictions to be blown away like the fallen leaves of a tree might be blown from a hillside by a strong yet gentle breeze. Her mind had cleared instantly, from that moment on the sun radiated with a different light, it was as if she was looking through a new set of eyes and thinking with a brand new mind, and loving with a new spirit.
From that day forward she had lived with the knowledge that this Rabbi was not just a man. She gave her life to him or more accurately she fought to give back what he had given to her. From that moment on everything in her life pointed to this one Rabbi that had made her whole. She remembered talking with the others about how it felt to sit by him, how his presence carried a weight that could be felt by the spirit. They could all feel when he was near even before seeing him they knew he was there. When they looked into his eyes there was a great sense that he could see all that you were, it felt as if they could hide nothing from him.
How could any of them go on now? What would become of the Church, would they now return to the lives they had left behind, and if so what did that mean for her, she had no life before him, everything she had he had made possible.
Suddenly those memories dissolved with the cold and frightening realization that they were approaching the tomb where they had laid him two days ago. Light began to spill across the garden as the sun was just beginning its rise. Fear now struck her heart knowing in just minutes she would again see her master’s lifeless and beaten face. Seeing him that way had crushed her spirit, now that she was almost there she wondered if she could bear seeing it again.
As Salome rounded the hill where the tomb was Mary heard her scream. Mary ran to join them to see that the other two were standing before the mouth of the tomb, the spices they carried now laying on the ground. The tomb stood open the stone rolled away, the soldiers that were once standing guard were gone.
Mary and the others approached the tomb’s entrance. “Have the Jews taken his body?” she wondered in her mind. They ran inside. “What have they done with our Lord?” Salome cried, placing her hand on his folded blood stained burial cloth. Standing at the stone he had been laid upon. From behind them a voice suddenly said triumphantly “He has risen!” They turned and were blinded by a light like no other Mary had ever seen. Threw squinted eyes with her hands before her face Mary tried to look in their direction. They looked like men but the robes they wore seemed to be made of pure light. “Did he not say he would rise after three days time?”
Suddenly the light was gone and so were the men.
As if of one mind they sprinted from the tomb, without even speaking of it they all seemed to know where they were running to.
Joy soared again in Mary’s heart with the thought of her Lord being alive again. “Could this be?” she thought excitedly. They burst inside the house to tell the other disciples, wailing about what they had seen; the men were frightened and then angry, they questioned the women thinking they were delusional. “The Angel said the Messiah has risen!” John’s Mother cried out against the other disciple’s doubts.
Peter said nothing, he bolted out the door and Mary ran with him. As she ran with Peter Mary feared it had all been an illusion or a trick somehow and that they would find the tomb closed but she again rounded the hill finding it open. Peter ran inside with a look of astonishment and confusion. He touched the Messiah’s burial clothes as if to convince himself that what he was seeing was real. He then staggered back out of the tomb bewildered his hands pulling at the hair on his head. Mary looked into Peter’s eyes as he passed her, she could see he was feeling the same mixture of fear and joy, a smile stretched across his face but his eyes held worry and confusion. Mary walked inside and placed her hands on the stone where his bloodied head had lain. She was desperate for answers; doubt of the men she had seen already began to seep into her mind. “Were they really Romans, had they taken her Lord’s body, or could this really be what the Rabbi had been telling them all along that he would rise again, could she dare to believe it? Her heart wanted to sing out in joy but her fear and doubt prohibited it. Mary’s mind was frantic but then a peace washed over her spirit, it was the same feeling she had whenever the Rabbi was near.
“Who is it you are looking for” A voice from behind asked.
“My Lord and my Master.” Mary said through her sobbing. “Do you know where they have taken him?” She asked
“Mary” The Rabbi said.
She straightened with a jolt, fear and hope seized her as she now recognized the voice, she dared not even breathe.
She trembled from her sandals to her head dress. Fear had frozen her where she stood, she struggled to move. She forced her stiff body to turn and willed her eyes to look in the direction of her Rabbi’s voice. Mary gasped and stumbled backward struggling to breathe she clutched for the stone behind her to steady herself but not finding it fell to her knees, her eyes now pouring forth tears still fixed on what her eyes beheld. Before her in glorious splendor stood her Master!
He was no longer the bloodied and beaten teacher she had seen being wrapped in the burial cloths days before, oh no, he appeared completely renewed, somehow even better than before. The Messiah stepped toward her and held his hand out as if to help her up. Every inch of her body shook and trembled as she tried to make sense of what her eyes were looking at. Looking at the hand he held before her she saw where the spike had been driven through the palm of his hand, then her eyes darted to his feet and there she could see the same wounds, now healed entirely.
Back to his face her eyes went, his gaze carried the same weight it had before only more; it bathed her in Love and peace. Her trembling stopped, her breath slowed and she touched his outstretched hand putting her fingers on his scar. Feeling his solid warm hand her heart exploded with delight, even more tears poured from her eyes no longer being tears of sorrow or fear but tears of pure joy. She excitedly clutched his scarred hand tightly and rose to her feet grabbing his robe and embracing him she sang out!