Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. (Mt.28:1)
Mary didn’t fully understand the implications of the empty tomb at first.
In John’s account, we are given details of Mary’s visit to the tomb that are not given in the other accounts. It appears from John 20:1-10 that Mary saw the empty tomb, was devastated that the Lord’s body had been “taken away,” and, in great despair, reported this “theft” to Peter and John. Peter and John came running to the tomb, found it as Mary had reported, and returned to their home.
For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. (John 20:9)
We often encounter people who are slow in grasping the personal significance of the empty tomb. Sometimes people know the story of Jesus years before they develop faith to obey. As I think of the people in my small sphere of influence right now, I think of one young woman who once believed in the empty tomb, who just confessed to me that her faith has grown cold and she no longer believes in the deity of Jesus. She needs to re-examine the evidence as Mary did. I think of another who once was risen with Christ, but has allowed the temptations of the world around him to draw Him away from the risen savior. He needs to go back to the tomb and re-evaluate its significance. I think of another who is in a Bible class I am teaching. She has just discovered the tomb! She is excited and ready to run with the news. New-found happiness and eagerness is written all over her face. May she never lose her zeal as she takes the gospel to those she loves deeply.
While Peter and John went home. Mary went back to the tomb and wept (Jn.20:11). She peeked back into the tomb and the most amazing part of her Sunday …no…of her life, unfolded before her.
Mary saw the gospel.
I am blessed immeasurably because I have heard the gospel! It has forever impacted my life and eternity. I will never be the same. Praise God for the telling and hearing of the gospel story! But did you ever think about the fact that Mary Magdalene, along with a very few select people didn’t have to hear the gospel? They saw it. The gospel is defined by Paul as the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. These three events compose the Good News of the ages (I Cor. 15:1-4). Mary, along with many other people watched him die (Mt.27:55,56). Mary went to the tomb for the interment (Mt. 27:61). It would seem possible from the context that very few people, possibly only Joseph of Arimathea, any helpers he had to carry and place the body and roll the stone, and the two Marys witnessed this burial. I believe it highly probable that a few more of the faithful were present, since it seems likely that Mary, the mother of the Lord would have followed the body to the tomb. It seems that, if she did, then most likely John and perhaps others accompanied her. But in the moments immediately following the resurrection, the two mortals who heard the words directly from the heavenly beings were only two:
Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.
But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. Mt. 28:1-6.
Mary saw the Lord.
At some point very shortly after the angels comforted Mary, she saw the Lord himself. John tells us that the meeting occurred there in the burial garden, because Mary just turned around and there He was, the risen Son of God! Still slow to process the amazing truth with which she was quickly coming face to face, she thought Jesus was the gardener. She asked this “gardener” where he had laid the body of Jesus. Then Jesus turning to her, said “Mary!”
It was the moment of truth. I wish I could have seen her face when she finally turned to Jesus and realized that this gardener was the great I AM! Processing the events, it just finally dawned on her that if he could cast the demons from her body, he could overcome the grave! She would not be needing those spices she had brought for the dead. She would, instead fall down, grab his feet and worship the living as she cried out “Master!” (John 20:15, 16; Matthew 28:9).
Have you fallen at His feet? Is he your master?
Mary ran with the good news.
So should we.
So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. Mt.28:8
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.
And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.
Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise.
For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.
And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
*Barnes, Albert: Notes on the New Testament, 1958, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 33.
** Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries, www.esword.com
Above article taken largely from “Power Lectures, 2009,” edited by Wade Webster, Southaven, MS; 2009 (article by Cindy Colley)