Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

The Real Woman of the Da Vinci Code, part 2

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Mary was busy on Sunday morning.

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 started her trip to the tomb before dawn on Sunday morning. It occurred to me as I was studying the devotion of this woman of God that I know many women who often begin their journey to celebrate the empty tomb each Lord’s day before dawn. I have met women in foreign countries, where congregations are few and far between, who arise before dawn on Sunday mornings to make the trip to a distant village to worship God. I have known women here at home who are diligent on Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings to make sure all the clothes and shoes are assembled and ready so the preparation time for worship will be a time of calm and peace. I have known many women who have been on the worship site long before others preparing communion or visuals for children’s classes. It may seem an obvious point, but we all need to have a Sunday morning agenda that’s more important than any weekend relaxation or late Saturday night activity. We should prepare ourselves and our families for on-time, alert and focused worship. We all have a weekly Sunday appointment at the tomb!

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)

Looking back from our vantage point, having read and reread all of the Messianic prophecies and having heard Jesus say he would raise up the temple again in three days (Jn. 2:19), we tend to become impatient with the four disciples examining the empty tomb. These two Marys and Peter and John still didn’t “get it.” This lack of understanding about what had actually occurred at dawn on that Sunday left Mary weeping at the empty tomb, when her emotion should really have been great joy.

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.

There were to be many witnesses to the empty tomb and the risen Savior. After all, those who saw him die and then later walked and talked with him, were indeed witnesses to the resurrection. But what a remarkable honor was given to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to hear the angel voices say “He is not here, for He is risen.” What an amazing and unforgettable event of a lifetime to be invited first to “Come see the place where the Lord lay.” This woman, once tormented by the agents of death, was called by heavenly voices into the little arena on the side of the Judean hill, to the very spot where death was conquered for all of eternity. And the good news was then delivered by Mary to Peter and the rest of the apostles, to be delivered by them in Jerusalem on the very next Pentecost to a world of people who could access salvation because of the empty tomb.

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

The news these two women were given from heaven was the most precious news ever delivered to mankind. Giving validity to the incarnation, the death, and the burial, was this, the truth that He had risen. The truth of the gospel hinges on the empty tomb. Paul said as much in I Cor. 15: 13-20:

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.

Great things will happen to us if we hasten with urgency to spread the good news. And so it was with Mary. She encountered Christ first when he cleansed her of the torturous evil spirits.. Realizing that she owed her very sanity to the Lord, she followed him to the cross, the grave and almost certainly waited for His promised Comforter in the upper room in Jerusalem (Acts 1:14). Thus, she became a part of his eternal kingdom when Peter and the apostles spoke the good news of the resurrection on the day of Pentecost…the news first delivered to them by Mary Magdalene. I believe Mary Magdalene also followed the Lord to heaven. May the empty tomb open heaven’s doors for Cindy Colley one day, too. I want to meet Mary Magdalene!

Works Cited:
*Barnes, Albert: Notes on the New Testament, 1958, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 33.
** Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries,

Above article taken largely from “Power Lectures, 2009,” edited by Wade Webster, Southaven, MS; 2009 (article by Cindy Colley)

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