Torch, Spring 1979

13 I ave Se nThe Lord! Rebecca Baker solation far deeper than that created by the heavy mourning veil separated Mary of Magdaia from her companions. Although the women sympathized in a mutual cause, Mary could take comfort in no one now, for He Who had been all comfort to her was gone. She was hardly aware of their soft moaning, but the grief it expressed penetrated her own agony, triggering the remembrance of the anguished wailing which had surrounded her two days earlier as Christ had hung on the cross.With that sound piercing her ears and feeling as though she would suffocate, Mary rushed ahead of the others to regain what composure she could before advancing to the tomb. She wondered if she could ever escape the horror of His death. It was not just that He had died-the Lord had told them His death must come. But for it to have been like this- He, Who was more gentle than any man or woman she had ever known-to be killed like a criminal! She sickened at the bitter memory of seeing Him spat upon, mocked, shamed. She, too, had been hated, but she had deserved it, having been consumed with evil until He-the entirely righteous One-had driven away the seven demons which tormented her. He had shown love and forgiveness-had brought life and hope-had become life and hope. She smiled at the thought of His kind eyes and tender touch-then with a jolt remembered why she was here. Rome had crucified her Master and separated the world from His love and power forever! The other women had caught up with her. Fighting despair she glanced from them to the ointment and spices in her hands-anointment for His lifeless body. Dead-but near-just a short walk now to His grave. Man's hatred had not separated them from the blessed task of ministering to Him one last time. With the first touch of peace she had known since the crucifixion, Mary Magdalene joined her companions and entered the garden gate. Walking toward the tomb, the women again wondered how they would enter the tomb. They had witnessed the burial by Joseph and Nicodemus and had seen the huge stone rolled into place. As they took the last tum that led to the grave they stopped short. Even in the faint morning light it was clear! The stone had been rolled along its groove and pushed completely aside from the opening of the cave in which Christ had recently been laid! Mary stared hard and felt herself giving way to bitterness and frustration as what little peace she had felt shattered around her. Christ's body had been stolen! What else could it be? What were His enemies doing with the body? Surely He had suffered mutilation enough while dying. What more could they want with Him? Desperate for help, Mary dropped the now useless spices and ran for town. She would find some of the disciples there-perhaps together they could rescue the stolen body. Shocked and perplexed by Mary's news, Peter and John ran for the tomb. Exhausted, Mary followed, not yet aware that while she had been away an angel had revealed himself to the other women and they had already left, also seeking the disciples with their own message. By the time Mary hurried back into the garden, Peter and John had come and gone. Painfully alone, she walked toward the sepulchre, giving way to anguished sobs for her crucified Lord and the empty grave. Feeling compelled to look inside, she stooped down, suddenly blinking away her tears as she saw two young men in white sitting where the head and feet of the body would have lain. As if they had been waiting for her, they spoke: "Woman, why are you weeping?" "Because they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid Him." Receiving no answer from the mysterious young men, Mary turned away. Another man standing nearby echoed the question she had just answered: "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" "This man must be the gardener," she thought. "Perhaps he knows something." "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away." No answer. Completely defeated, she looked down. Empty hands. Empty tomb. Empty life . . . "Mary!" An electric thrill of recognition passed through her body. That voice-saying her name with the same gentle firmness He had used the day she met Him! How could she have thought He was anyone but Jesus? Falling to her knees, she clutched Him to her. "Rabboni!" "Blessed Teacher!" Soothingly taking her hands, He again taught His devoted follower. "Mary, you must not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father, but go to my brethren and say to them, I ascend to My Father and to your Father, and my God and your God." Eager to do His will, Mary rushed through the garden, which was now bright from the morning sun. Radiating the joy of having seen and heard Him again, she was brimming with the truth she would share for the rest of her life. "He is Risen! I have seen the Lord!" Mrs. Baker is an instructor in Speech Communications at Cedarville College. This reading is reprinted from the cantata The Cross, The Grove, The Triumph, © 1979, The Proclaimers, Inc., P.O. Box 19635, Kansas City, MO 64141 .