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Good Friday was yesterday. Jesus was in the grave three days. Friday is the first day. Today would be the second. Tomorrow we celebrate Jesus rising from the dead. May this story never become dull to our ears or our hearts or to our eyes.

woman crying

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angles in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. John 20: 1-12

Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early the morning of the third day, saw that Jesus’ body was gone and suspected that someone had “taken the Lord out of the tomb;” she ran to the disciples with this news. At this point, no one knew the real story. At this point, all they have to go on is an empty tomb. Even though Jesus had spoken to them about his death and being raised, their minds had not yet put it all together. The boys end up giving up and going back home to grieve (Mark 16:10). Not Mary Magdalene. She stayed at the tomb. Maybe to her going home was useless without her Lord, her Rescuer, her Deliverer, her Teacher. Why go home? Why go back to life without Jesus? Life was meaningless unless she had the Christ, the Son of God in her life.

She was the only one to stay at the tomb. She didn’t just stay there, but she wept. It wasn’t the silent kind of crying where tears stream from your eyes but no noise is heard. John records that she “wept” which means “to sob, wail aloud, bewail, weep” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance). This same Greek word for “wept” appears a few other times in Gospels. In Mark 5:39 family and friends were “crying and wailing loudly” for a young girl who had died. Mark 14:72 states “And he [Peter] broke down and wept” over his denial of Jesus. Luke 19:41 records that “He [Jesus] wept over it [Jerusalem].” This expression of grief is when your whole body grieves. It is when one can’t help but to express it loudly. This isn’t your everyday run of the mill type of sorrow. This is the extreme type. Something so horrible has happened and it hits you like a ton of bricks and the only thing you know do to is to get loud!

As I think about Mary that day – “As she wept…” As she was bawling her eyes out, all alone, in complete confusion – she was doing the ugly kind of crying – the crying that has no answers, only grief. The crying that says “I don’t know what to do or even where to go.” I am sure the past came suddenly to her mind. Her times with Jesus. His words to her. How He taught her. How she was delivered of seven demons and was among several women who followed him along with the disciples and took care of His needs (Luke 8:2). How she was with Him when He was crucified (Mark 15:40). Now what would she do? How could He be gone? Did she begin to doubt? Did she wonder if all of it had been a mistake? Is He really gone forever?

Have you experienced this depth of grief? Have you given yourself permission to weep loudly? Do you need to be alone and pour your heart out to Jesus? Do you need to hash things out with Him? Do you feel helpless? Do you feel like your life isn’t worth living anymore? Do you feel lost and with no hope? Does your life suddenly not make sense? Do you wonder how anything good can come from the circumstances you are currently facing? Are your eyes swollen from crying so hard? Do you feel as if no one hears you?

“As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb…” (John 20:11). She bent over and looked one more time inside the tomb. What can you do again that before revealed only the bad news? For Mary, to look again into the tomb meant to see His absence. She didn’t avoid or deny the empty tomb. This was the last place she knew Him to be. Is He really not there? Why is He really not there? In her grief, she sought answers. She did something. She did something worthwhile. She didn’t crawl into bed and stay depressed. She didn’t run away from her life. She didn’t not grieve. She “bent over” and looked with her eyes into the tomb. Keep your eyes open dear one! Search for truth! Search for Jesus in your circumstances! Open His Word to find good things!

As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that is was Jesus. “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni?” (which means Teacher).

As Mary kept her eyes open and her heart soft, she experienced one of the greatest evidences of the glory of God ever witnessed! She was the first to see Jesus after His resurrection!

Dear one, weep and mourn and cry out loudly. But keep your eyes open to see the miracle God has for you!

As Paul expressed to the Ephesians, I leave his words with you this Easter weekend: “I pray also that the eyes of your heart maybe enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead…” (Ephesian 1:18-20a).

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Jennifer Johnson

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"To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." -Revelations 1:5b-6

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