Today’s post is a second excerpt from my historical account of the life of Mary Magdalene, entitled “Journey: a novel”. The book recounts the lives of Mary Magdalene, Simon the Pharisee and many of Jesus’ disciples, and has received some exciting reviews ….. It is the result of over 8 years of research and a trip to Israel. If you would like to read it, it is available on Amazon.com.
This morning’s post is my feeble attempt to begin to explain what the power of the resurrection of Jesus means in my own life. ….
Three days later, just before sunrise, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus, made their way to Joseph’s garden tomb. “Surely they will let us anoint his body,” they told each other. “What should we do if no one is there? Who will break the seal and move the stone?”
As they neared the path leading to Joseph’s garden, both women were unexpectedly knocked to their feet. The ground was shaking again, this time with more force and power than either of them had ever seen. Below them, the earth roared, thundering.
Was the world coming to an end?
Just beyond where they were on the path, a flash of lightning lit up the sky.
“Did you see that?” Mary asked Magdalene.
“Yes.” She answered. “Where did it come from?”
“I wondered that too. It didn’t come from the sky.”
Both women broke into a run. As they entered the clearing in front of Joseph’s tomb, they stopped in astonishment.
The great flat stone, some six feet in diameter, had been rolled away from the door. Who had broken the mortar seal?
Around them, on the ground, looking as though they were dead, were five Roman soldiers.
However unusual, these were not the things that drew their attention.
Sitting on top of the stone, to the right of the open doorway, was a young man. He was clothed in a blazing, white garment. He shone with a piercingly bright light. It emanated from him and enveloped him. It moved as he moved.
And yet, they observed, he was real.
The young man looked at them, as though they had been expected. He smiled. “He is not here,” he announced. “He is risen — just like he said.”
“What did you say?” the older Mary asked him.
“Come and see.” The young man indicated the open doorway to the tomb. “Go in, and see the place where he was laid.”
Not exactly sure what they should do next, the two women looked at each other. They would have to pass this glowing figure in order to go through the door.
The older Mary took the lead. Taking Magdalene’s hand she led them through the doorway. Was it authentic? Magdalene watched the young man, to see what he would do.
He seemed to be enjoying himself.
He watched them as they passed. He smiled at them.
Entering the grave, the two women were greeted by two more young men in glowing white garments. Both were sitting on the bench where Jesus’ body had been placed the day after the feast.
Was it brighter in here, the older Mary wondered? Where was the Light coming from?
Who were these men, Magdalene questioned? They carried the same Light and Substance with them she had encountered the night of her deliverance.
Were these angels, then?
She couldn’t stand up in this atmosphere, she realized. She fell to her knees. So did the other Mary.
The angel sitting on the head-plate spoke, looking directly at Magdalene. “He is not here,” he said clearly. “He has risen. Look here. This is the place where he was.”
The second angel, sitting at the foot-plate, looked at the older Mary and smiled. “Go and tell the learners — and Peter — He is going before you to Galilee,” he said.
What? The women looked at each other, and walked out of the tomb. Upon their exit, they were greeted by Salome, Elsbeth, Joanna, Abigail and Hadassah. Each woman was carrying a bag of myrrh and spices.
“Good morning!” Hadassah said.
“What are you doing here?” Magdalene asked.
“We came to anoint the body. We’ve decided we will unwrap him if we have to,” Salome spoke.
“It’s not here.” The older Mary spoke with a new conviction.
“What’s not here?” Salome asked.
“The body; it’s not here.” Mary looked at them as she repeated her words.
“Did you see the angel?” Magdalene asked. “He was sitting right here.”
“No, we didn’t see an angel.” Joanna looked at her strangely. “But we did see the soldiers running down the road as we were coming. One of them said something about going to make a report.”
“I don’t think so. They said something about giving account to Caiaphas.” Abigail answered.
“I think one of them was in Commander Flavius’ regiment,” Elsbeth offered. “I remembered seeing him before.”
The older Mary looked at Salome. “The angel said we should tell the disciples the Master is alive, and will be waiting for us in Galilee.”
Salome’s face broke into a smile. “Are you sure?” she asked.
Mary glanced back toward the open door. “Pretty sure!” she answered.
The group of women left together, talking and sharing. It would be wonderful to share the news with John, and James, and Andrew…. They couldn’t wait to see their faces.
But Mary Magdalene couldn’t find the strength to leave the garden area. Old emotions began to surface.
If he wasn’t here, where was he?
She looked back through the tomb door.
Yes, the two angels were still sitting there. She just wanted to be sure.
Her thoughts began to race. Her eyes filled with tears. The pent up fears of the past few days began to rise in a torrent of emotion.
She began to weep; the sense of abandonment overwhelming her once again. What would she do – without Him?
“Why are you weeping?” The angel at the head plate asked, his voice coming through the open doorway.
“Because they have taken my Master away; I don’t know where he is,” she answered. How would she learn to live her life, she wondered? Who would teach her the things she was still missing? Who could she ask?
Would anyone else understand her heart?
Perhaps she just needed to find a place to have a good cry, she thought. Looking down, she turned, and almost ran into someone.
Oh, she thought. The gardeners are here to tend the grounds. I will have to go somewhere else to be alone.
“Why are you weeping?” the gardener asked.
There it was; the same question. Magdalene decided to get some answers. There had to be an answer. She would find strength somewhere inside herself to handle this. She took a deep breath
“Sir,” she said. “You are the gardener. If you have taken his body somewhere, please tell me where it is….” Her voice broke, and she began to weep harder. Sobs were beginning now. She had to get the words out. “I …. will…come and take… his… body… away.”
There was a short stretch of silence. She didn’t know what else to say.
Where could they have laid the body?
The Gardener spoke, gently; kindly, quietly.
From the deep caverns of her soul, her being resonated with response. This was the Voice that shattered her chains in the storeroom. This was the Voice that called her brother back from beyond the grave. This was the Voice that had shaped her identity since the night of her deliverance.
This was the Voice of her God.
She fell to her knees, and took hold of his feet in worship, weeping. “Oh, Master!” she cried with relief. “Jesus!”
He knelt down and lifted her to her feet. “I haven’t ascended to the Mercy Seat, Mary. Don’t cling to me yet.” He paused. “Go and tell my friends that I am ascending — to my Father; and your Father — to my God; and your God.”
She stood up. Looking at him she realized he was shining. It was the same light she had seen surrounding the angels; but it was brighter, stronger, somehow. She took a deep breath, and smiled at him.
“I will, Master,” she replied, her heart suddenly light. She turned to go, and then excitedly took a step to return to him. Thinking better of it, she turned again to go the other direction, returning to her task, remembering his words. For a moment, she looked back at him. He was watching her and chuckling. Yes, it was Jesus.
She ran from the tomb. Was this a song she was humming? She didn’t know. She had never been so full of joy. He had kept his promise.
I will not leave you alone. I will come to you.
Perhaps she could still catch up with the others.
A few moments passed.
The older Mary, Salome, and the others, were still moving towards the city. In actuality, they were not too far ahead of her. Coming off the pathway which led to Joseph’s family home, the group turned onto the main road. Suddenly, a man stood six feet in front of them.
“Good morning, friends!” he called in greeting.
Stunned, the women looked up. No one had seen him walking down the road…. Where had he come from?
“It – it’s Jesus!”
The older Mary stood in shock for a moment. Then, all at once, she ran to him, and dropped to her knees, grasping his feet. Was he real? Was it really true?
The other women gathered around him as well; Salome and Joanna, Hadassah and Abigail. Elsbeth just stood weeping. Each one found themselves wanting to confirm what their eyes told them. They too, touched him, hugged him.
As the discovery of reality became clear, a sense of fear emerged. The desire to be separated from such power; somehow given a “safe distance,” whispered to them.
“Don’t be afraid!” Jesus looked clearly at Salome and those standing back, beginning to just observe.
“It’s all right! Come closer!” he said. “Go and tell my friends I will meet them in Galilee.”
The women had run elatedly to deliver the message.
At first, it had not been well received.
At first, the men had not believed them. “Silly women!” a few said. “Magdalene has always been too emotional!”
But then, Simon Peter and John decided to confirm the story. John had gone into the tomb first. He was convinced, and had told them all so.
Poor Simon, Mary considered. He had been sure it couldn’t be true: even when his wife told him her experience!
Then, he had looked into the tomb’s doorway and seen the wrappings neatly folded. The handkerchief Nicodemus had placed over Jesus’ face that night was over to the side, as though he had wiped his face before getting up. In disbelief, Simon Peter had gathered the linen wrappings to his chest.
He had wept, full of remorse, for hours.
He still wept easily, and often.
No one knew when, or where, but the Master found Simon Peter at some point during that first day. She could only envision the conversation which had taken place between them.
Peter didn’t talk much about what Jesus had said to him, but just the mention of it in conversation always brought him to tears.
The fisherman had been different since then too, she considered.
He was gentler, less impulsive; certainly less forceful in his opinions.
Elsbeth had confided that changes had taken place at home as well……
…. To read the rest of the story, look for “Journey” to be available later this spring, released through Advantage Books.
(c)2010 DG — Awakened to Grow — Duplication without permission prohibited.
After that, Jesus had appeared to so many.