Running after this mystery which holds the key to our ultimate identity does not make our lives any easier. In fact, it seems to complicate them, yet we know that there is only one way to go if we wish for integrity. We cannot escape the burden of mystery… -Barbara Doherty.
She was still in shock. She knew that. Everything since Friday had been happening in a kind of slow-motion, soundless and dull, as if her ears were clogged and her eyes still sleepy. She had been woken suddenly early that morning with the news that Jesus had been arrested in the night and was being charged with a desperate combination of blasphemy and treason to Rome! The whole thing was so impossible, so unimaginable that it felt as if she had not woken up at all and was still dreaming. The brutality and viciousness of the soldiers and the crowd, the sound of torture, the way he forgave everything even as he hung there in agony. How odd it was that these things somehow weren’t happening TO Jesus. It was so strange that somehow he was participating in them, she was sure of it, somehow they were happening with his permission.
Even at the end, death didn’t take him. It had to wait until He chose the moment and offered his spirit to His Father. It was already evening on Friday before the men were able to get Jesus down from the cross, and bring him to the tomb that Joseph of Arimathea had offered to them. Nicodemus, had brought about 100 pounds of spices to wrap the body in. And so they prepared the body as well as they could, rolled the stone over the entrance to the tomb and went home, walking in silence and shock, to wait for the Sabbath to be over. The day of rest. Hah. Her anger would wash over her in waves as she considered it. They had to watch helpless as Jesus was tortured and killed. No God came and rescued him. Now he lays alone. They had tried to clean him up but there was no time, because they had to obey the Sabbath commandment. Why? What good does obedience do when you end up like Jesus? There was no rest, just anger and sorrow and the same thoughts going round and round in her mind, as she waited for the Sabbath to end, then watching through the night, waiting for the first changes in the sky that signaled the rising sun. Finally, unable to wait any longer, gathering the other ladies and leaving for the tomb while it was still dark, feeling their way through the trees and over rocks and roots, trying not to drop the things they brought to prepare the body.
What was Mary thinking about as she made her way back to the place where they had placed Jesus? Was she lost in her thoughts, remembering the moment when He had saved her from that crowd of hypocrites wanting to stone her? The way he looked at her and knew her? Her sin, her searching? And later, when she burst into the house of Simon the Pharisee and just fell to pieces at his feet, weeping and kissing his feet and how outraged everyone was…except for Jesus.
All her life she had known there was more. There were times when she thought that even her bad choices, and there were many, sprang from the frustration of wanting something that she could never reach. That always surprised people. (did they think that because of what she did that she wasn’t interested in these things?) And then she met Jesus and she knew that she had found it. Or Him. God.
They reached the tomb in the shadows and mist of the very beginning of the day and then, she was sure that she was dreaming. The hurried exchange with… what? An angel? Maybe she was dreaming that as well. The run back to Peter and the others. Words coming in a torrent, all jumbled and contradictory, The tomb was empty, they have taken him. No there was an angel, he said that Jesus had risen. Where was he? We don’t know, wait! Galilee, they said that he was going ahead to Galilee. Peter and John ran to the tomb themselves and Mary tried to keep up. But by the time she arrived again they had already ran back to the others and she was alone. And then she met Jesus. Not in the tomb, not in Galilee, not in a dream or a memory. He was standing right there in front of her, the same but somehow different and it wasn’t until he called her by name that she knew him. For as long as she lived she would never be able to explain what that moment was like. He was not dead. And the rest of her life would be lived in that simple realization: HE IS RISEN.