What do we do now? Mary and the other women had risen before dawn to take the spices they had prepared the night before to the tomb where Jesus' body lay. However, when they arrived, all that awaited them were two unconscious Roman soldiers, a large stone casually rolled away from the mouth of the tomb, and instead of a body, an empty tomb and burial clothes!
The man on the right was slightly taller. He briefly studied them and spoke. "Why do you seek the living among the dead?"
At their blank expressions, the man on the left smiled and said, "He is not here...but has risen!
"That's right," spoke up the first man. "Don't you remember how he told you the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men? They would crucify Him, but on the third day He would rise again!"
A cool, yet warming breeze stirred the leaves, distracting them for just a moment. The tingling chill gave her goosebumps and a rush of excitement through her body. Mary swung her gaze back to the men, a question on the tip of her tongue, but they were gone, too.
But their words echoed in her head, resounding in her heart.
He is risen!
"You're crazy." Thomas glared at her disapprovingly.
Mary jutted out her chin, her old defiance rearing it's ugly head. "I know what I saw. The tomb was empty! The two men told us he had risen! He's alive."
He dismissed her words with a flick of his wrist. "Did you stop to think that it might have been two men who were part of the plot to steal Jesus' body? You just blindly believe whatever any man tells you, don't you?"
A collective gasp went through the room at the horrid shot at Mary's past. "Ask James' mother and Joanna. They were there, too. Or do you plan to accuse them of sharing in my heinous activities?"
"Mary!" James' reprimand quieted her next comment. She bristled at Thomas' words, but she respected James enough to stop yelling. For now.
"She's right." Everyone looked at Joanna, and Mary breathed a sigh of relieve. "The tomb was empty, and those men, those Heavenly beings, said he was risen."
There was calm and quiet as everyone digested the revelation. Then Peter and John looked at each other, and bolted out the door.
Thomas opened his mouth, doubting words pouring out as he completely ignored the warning look from James. "Prepare yourselves for the likely possibility that his body was stolen." Mary felt like her lungs were being crushed. The invisible weight grew heavier with each word. "I would love nothing more then to see him again, but he's gone. I saw him die. We all saw him die." Thomas' voice caught as he swept his hand around the room. "It's time we sought God's counsel, and figure out what's next."
Slowly Matthew and Bartholomew nodded their agreement. Mary couldn't take it anymore! With a cry, she ran out the door, back to the last place Jesus had been.
Collapsing in front of the tomb, Mary wept. Her fears coming through in gut-wrenching gasps. Her failures and worthlessness tracing their way down her face in hot, burning tears. Her emptiness and confusion squeezing the beat out of her heart.
She didn't know how long she lay in front of Jesus' tomb weeping, but eventually her sobs eased, and she sat up. Looking straight into the tomb, she saw the same two men sitting where Jesus' body had lain.
"Woman, why are you weeping?" The taller man asked with a smile on his face.
"They have taken away my Lord, and I don't know where to find him." Annoyed with the mysterious men, she turned around. A man smiled at her gently. "Woman, why are you weeping?"
Maybe he's the gardener. Which means he might have heard something! He might have seen who took his body! "Sir, if you have carried him away, or if you know who did, please tell me where he is. I will take his body." Mary was begging, but she no longer cared. She would do anything to retrieve his body.
"Mary." Her name rolled off his tongue and caressed her heart. Her eyes were opened. It had healing and life. Hope and joy. It was the greeting of a friend she had thought was lost. It was Jesus. Alive!
Joy bubbled up inside of her and spilled out in a single word. "Rabboni!"
Based on Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-10, Luke 24:1-12, and John 20:1-18.
Today is a very special day. It is the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We know that. We believe that. We celebrate it with candy, special church services, and maybe a honey-glazed ham. We know that today is about Jesus being raised from the dead.
But wait, there's more.
Many moons ago, our souls were raised from the dead. Jesus stormed the throne room of hell, and took us back!
"We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." Romans 6:4
But are we dead?
When Mary told the disciples what she had seen, and what the men had told her, they didn't believe her. It crushed her. She started doubting herself. Pretty soon, she had given up all her hope.
Jesus didn't take back the keys of our souls for us to voluntarily live in bondage.
"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1
When you let someone's unbelief beat you into a weakened stake, that's death. When you let fear choke the joy out of you, that's bondage. When you let anger rule your life, that's slavery. Jesus has freed us from all those things.
"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36
This Easter, think about Resurrection Sunday in all it's glory. Jesus has saved us from a dead life. However, every time you let one of those doubts into your heart, then you are letting yourself be locked into a living tomb. Jesus conquered so that wouldn't happen.
Let your faith be resurrected! Let your souls be revived. Despite the naysayers around you, look to God, and believe.
"But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31
In all you do, remember to be resurrected in your faith, in your life, in your soul.
Happy Easter and Resurrection Sunday!
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