It was early. Overhead, the golden sun peeped shyly from behind rosy, predawn clouds. The earth was silent. Utterly silent. And still. And yet the day was beautiful – as if the horror of three days prior had simply been a figment of one’s imagination.
A young woman of exotic beauty picked her way carefully down the winding path still damp with morning dew, tendrils of dark hair framing her face and spilling out beneath her head covering. She longed to clench her eyes tightly shut, to close out the dreadful memories of the past three days.
Death. It hung heavily in the air.
Hopelessness. Its ugly talons dug into her very soul.
Despair. The sky had gone black in an instant, angry clouds roiling and churning overhead, the earth shaking as if it wished to dash every living creature to pieces with its relentless fury.
Nothing – nothing! – could ever compare to the pain that had gripped her heart that day – the day her Savior, beaten, bloodied, and bruised, had breathed His last.
A tear slipped unbidden down a rosy cheek. Briskly, she swiped it away, emerging from a thick cluster of brush and foliage.
It was a peaceful garden tomb. Birds chirped cheerfully overhead, unaware that it was a place of death in which they sang. Tangled vines wrapped their way around the towering wall of limestone housing His tomb. Spring flowers bloomed and burst forth in colorful radiance, dew sparkling brilliantly upon upturned petals.
It was a beautiful garden. How could a place of such lush beauty and quiet serenity shelter the grotesque bodies of the dead?
And that’s when she saw it.
The stone! Why, it was no longer sealing the tomb. It looked as if someone had easily rolled it aside, but Mary knew that couldn’t be the case. It had taken many soldiers a great deal of effort to roll that massive piece of rock in place.
Mary rushed for the gaping entrance and, heart racing and pulse pounding loudly in her ears, peered frantically within.
Empty! The tomb was empty! Every bit as empty as her quaking heart.
He was gone. Someone had taken Him. It was that simple.
Mary’s eyes filled with tears. Who would do such a cruel, hateful thing? Whatever would she do without the comfort of knowing she could come to this tomb, knowing He was here? He may lay silent and still, but He would be here nonetheless.
And now He was gone. Forever.
Great heaving sobs shook her entire body. Doubling over, she crumpled to the ground, gasping out choking sobs and burying her face in the cool, dewy grass.
“Woman, why are you weeping?”
I suppose I could ask each of you the same question.
Why are you weeping?
We live in a broken world. Daily, we are bombarded with the challenges of a world tainted by sin. Pain. Grief. Discouragement. Brokenness. Sickness. Loneliness. Tragedy.
If we aren’t literally crumpled on the ground, sobbing our hearts out like Mary Magdalene, we may very well be doing so on the inside.
Let me tell you, whatever your circumstance – THERE IS HOPE.
For immediately after Mary Magdalene’s brief conversation with the “Gardener,” she discovers that she is looking into the face of her Savior.
Oftentimes, it is in our darkest moments that Christ is preparing to reveal Himself most radiantly in our lives. We’ve all heard it said that it’s always darkest before dawn. How true it is!
Our God is a God of redemption! A God of power and might and strength! No problem is too big or too small for Him. He is a good God. A loving God. Take your fears, your problems, and your anxieties to the cross. Lay them at His feet. Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you. (Psalm 55:22)
So… as we prepare to celebrate this day we call Easter, allow me to remind you that the glory of Christ’s resurrection bursts forth in stunning radiance all year long. No matter what you are currently facing, there IS hope for you because Jesus loves you far more than our finite, human minds can possibly comprehend. Our time on this sin-sodden earth is brief, and because Jesus was willing to take our sins upon Himself and sacrifice His life in our place, we can accept His free gift of salvation and look forward to an eternity of perfection – dwelling in Heaven with our loving Father, forever free from pain, worry, fear, anxiety, or death.
Jesus Christ loves you fiercely, tenderly, compassionately. He longs to set you free, to take you by the hand and lead you down the way of life everlasting.
Take His hand. It was pierced for you.
Walk in step with those beautiful feet. Yes, they were pierced for you, too.
And allow Him to wrap His everlasting arms about you and carry you home.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18