“He’s gone!” Mary’s mind screamed these words though her lips stayed silent, pursed shut in a mixture of equal parts anger and fright. The sun had barely peeked above the horizon. The tomb dimly lit by that soft morning light. Yet she could not be mistaken, the body of her Lord was gone.
“They took his body,” she whispered. Finally breaking the silence. “They took his body.” She questioned a second time. Mary ran from the tomb, back to the others. She burst into the home shouting, “they took his body, I don’t know where it is!”
Two of the disciples ran past her while the others sat in disbelief. When Mary got back to the tomb the two disciples were just walking out. Their heads hung low, their mouths wide open, still breathing hard from their desperate sprint. No one said a word. What was there to say? He was already gone, and now he was really gone. The tragic had turned dismal and dark, deeper down the rabbit hole. There was no unseeing what they had witnessed, no forgetting the grief they had felt. Their beloved Jesus was gone.
Now alone, Mary started to sob. She didn’t think any tears remained to be shed. Her eyes a permanent red from days of mourning. She had nothing left, and yet she sobbed. Her body sunk in on itself and she wept not for hope of comfort or healing or help – she wept from within her soul. A mirror to her most authentic self. She stumbled to the mouth of the tomb when two blinding angelic lights erupted from the darkness.
A voice called out, “Why are you crying?”
“He’s gone,” she said, “someone took his body.”
Then another voice called to her from the garden, a man standing there, though she knew not who. “Why are you crying?” the Gardener asked her the same question.
“Do you know where they took him? Just tell me, I’ll go get his body. Please.”
The man simply replied, “Mary.”
A new and yet familiar voice spoke her name.
As her eyes looked up to the meet those of the gardener time seemed to stop. Her mind began to swirl about. A vision over took her, memories rushed into sight. She fell through a tunnel of light until she stopped in a cold dark place.
Through the shadows she saw that which she already seen, moments from her past, from their journey. She saw Jesus raise a little girl from the dead. She could see him feeding thousands of people from food they didn’t have. Mary laughed as she watched blind bartimaeus dancing and weeping as his sight was restored. She even remembered the little boy. His dad begging for his life. A boy possessed by demons, a pain she knows too well. She watched as Jesus set that child free. Then she saw herself, her life before Jesus. Broken and consumed by evil. Pain, regret, hurt, slavery, wretchedness overwhelming her. Then this Jesus from Nazareth simply commanded it and the demons left her. As if God had spoke her into existence from nothing.
And then she saw Jesus standing before a crowd. The Pharisees were shouting, accusing him of blasphemy. All of Jesus’ followers, a hodgepodge of ragamuffins and high society, shouted back with similar passion. When Jesus stepped forward all fell silent to hear his words. His voice booming throughout her mind and soul, seemingly encompassing the entire universe as she heard the words, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it back up.”
Like a flash, her soul shot back through time, passing the miracles and teachings and meals and laughter and tears and pain, back into the light, back to the garden.
No gardener. No angel. No stranger. This was the voice that had beckoned her from the darkness years ago. The voice that had cast out the demons from her life. The voice that had brought her back to God when she had wandered hopelessly into the wilderness.
Her eyes met those of the one who had set her free.
“He’s alive!” Mary’s mind screamed those words though her lips stayed silent, afraid to move, as if uttering the words might somehow undo what was right in front of her. The soft morning light revealed truth before her. She could not be mistaken, her Lord was standing there, alive. Finally breaking the silence she cried out, “Rabboni!”
Her arms wrapped around her beloved teacher. And again, for the second time that morning, Mary of Magdala sobbed. She wept yet again from her soul as she was embraced by the risen son of God. When she stepped back, Jesus placed his hands on her shoulders, smiled, and said: “go, tell them.”
Again Mary ran from the tomb, back to the others. She burst into that home shouting, “I have seen the Lord! I have seen the Lord!”
And it was on that day, that Mary the Magdalene became the first witness of the risen Lord, the first believer of the resurrected Christ, the first apostle of the Messiah, and the first person to ever testify “I have seen the Lord!”