It was an uphill walk from town to where they buried him. Any other time, the sight of the field lilies would have caused her to stop and admire them. But not this morning. She found herself trying to make some sense of all that had transpired over the past week. He had been her best friend.  She had endured rude comments, scornful looks as well as jealousy and lies from those she once thought were her friends. ….But, it all was worth it…. In what short time she knew him, he had turned her life around and given her hope, for the first time. He had forgiven her and actually loved her just the way she was. He had loved her more than anyone ever had before. Unlike so many who said they loved her and then when they got what they were after, were gone. He simply loved her for who she was, never demanding anything in return. And now, she wanted to love others that same way. If he touched her at all, it was a gentle touch of friendship or the touch of healing or forgiveness or one of compassion, assuring her that he understood. He had taught her so much about God. Now, she had purpose in living.  She was even beginning to respect herself again. …Would it ever be the same with him gone?… Could it be?

It was easier to see the path now with the sun climbing above the horizon. Although, the warmth from it shining on her did little to remove the chill of grief and confusion that had set in over the past few days. Oddly, she found herself being thankful, at a time like this. She felt ashamed that she could be thankful for anything, when this was only the third day since he had died. But she couldn’t help it. He had taught her to give thanks in all circumstances. So, she thanked God for Joseph and Nicodemus, who had buried her friend in Joe’s new tomb. If they hadn’t come and taken him down from that awful place and given him a proper burial, his body would have been thrown out with all the unclaimed bodies at the edge of town. Now, she was thanking God for her friends, she referred to as her sisters, who were walking with her. She kept hearing his voice, “Blessed are you, when people insult you, persecute you and  falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad! Great is your reward in Heaven.” Oh, if only he was standing in front of them now, speaking, instead of just in her mind. After seeing what she had seen what was done to him, how could she rejoice and be glad?

As they drew closer to the the place where he was buried, she was thinking of how precious her sisters were to her. Her first real friends. They could not have made it through the last few days without each others support. Her thoughts danced from place to place. Her memories flashed back to the day she first met…. “Jesus” …. Suddenly she realized she had spoken his name out loud.  Her sisters stopped and turned to look at her and asked, “Are you OK? Do you want to go back?” “No!” She answered. “We have to do this,” glancing at the spices in their baskets. This was the first time she had spoken his name since his death. Just speaking his name,”Jesus”, sent a rush of peace over her. He had freed her from those hideous demons. Seven of them! She often wondered how she ever survived before she meet Jesus. Only by the grace of God was she here today. She had been a vessel for the demons to do with whatever they desired…. She shook her head, trying to forget that dark period of her life.  Jesus had miraculously brought her out of the darkness and into the light. And now, she was a new creation! Jesus had filled her heart and mind with good things that she had never enjoyed before and somehow, he had given her the strength and resolve to make it through whatever difficulties she would face.” Those terrible demons were out there somewhere, but they will never live here again!”

Her thoughts dashed back to the previous week. The air was alive with excitement and expectations.”We all felt that something amazing was about to happen. We didn’t understand everything Jesus had told us about the order of events that were going to take place, but that was OK because he could do anything! We believed he was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God! We had seen him heal the sick, even leapers and then we saw him raise the dead back to life! The men often spoke about a time when they were all on a boat together on the Sea of Galilee. A violent storm arose and with only a few words, Jesus turned the storm into peace and calmness. He saw through the plots of the religious teachers trying to trap him and find reason to turn him into the Roman authorities. He loved the children like no one I have ever  seen. He taught the men how to catch fish and he was teaching them to be fishers of men. …And, he saw into my heart. He knew me better than anyone. He was so good. All good. There was no bad in him. But now, he was dead. Why? How can it be?”

She couldn’t remember when she had slept last. Questions floated through her head like rain clouds that refused to open. She had heard the men vow to follow Jesus to their death. Why then, did they deny him and leave him alone in his darkest hour? She wondered what had hurt Jesus more, the physical torture he was put through or having his closest friends desert him at a time like that? How lonely it must have been for him. Why had she not run through the crowds, screaming at the top of her lungs, “You can’t do that to him! He’s my friend! He’s the Son of God!” Then at the cross, she stood back with the other women, just watching him die. …What could they have done anyway?” We all were waiting for him to call down the angels to take him from that bloody cross and crown him King”. …the image in her head of him being nailed to the sinners cross, brought her to the ground, striking her knee on a stone. As her sisters helped her up, pain shot through her body. But, this was nothing compared to what her friend went through, because of her.” Because of her?” She thought. “Where had that come from? Could it really be her fault that he died like that?”

As they entered the garden of the tombs, they began to talk. “Do you think someone will be there to help us move the stone?” One of the sisters turned to Mary, who had been walking a few steps behind them and said, “Mary, we are almost there.” The women shaded their eyes with one hand and looked up. Something was wrong! The stone was rolled away! Dropping their baskets, they ran to the tomb and found it empty. “Oh no!” They cried. “How could they do this?Why would they steal his body? Where could they have taken him?” From that point on, everything became a blur to her. The women ran the best they could to tell the disciples. Together, they quickly made their way back to the tomb. Arriving, they found it empty with only the linens inside, folded neatly. The disciples and the other women, trying to understand it all, began walking back to town. But Mary could not pull herself away. With her spirit in turmoil, she wept bitterly.  The Gardner was nearby. He asked her why she was crying? She explained what had happened and then He spoke to her again. This time He called her by name.”Mary.” She froze. She knew that voice! She turned to see Jesus, standing there in front of her! Alive! Struggling with disbelief, she fell at his feet. Her tears, flowing over the scars left from the nails. Jesus said to her,”Mary, do not hold on to me for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go! Tell the others that I am alive!”

Running with all her might and a with a joy she could not contain, she exclaimed, “I have seen the Lord, He is alive!”

From that moment on, Mary’s life would never be the same. She not only had been healed and freed by Jesus and walked and talked with Him, but now, she knew the Risen Lord!

This may not be exactly how it was for Mary Magdalene on that early walk on the first Easter morning. Regardless, once we meet Jesus, our lives are never the same. Can you relate to some aspect of Mary’s experience? One thing is certain. In Christ, we are freed and healed just as Mary was and we can walk with and talk with Jesus as well. His triumph over sin and death and Hell can give us victory in our lives everyday that we live, whatever we may face. Just as it was with Mary, Jesus can be our King, our Lord, our Savior. Hallelujah! He is Risen!

Take an early morning walk and listen for the Lord to speak to you.

Bob

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