1998-08-13 - The Daybreak of Freedom
The Cross Series, Part 47
Matt 28:1-2 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. 2 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. (NAS)
Matthew records that both Mary's were at the tomb when it was sealed. Now that the Sabbath was over, they returned as soon as they could. It is possible they were joined in a few minutes by the women recorded by Mark and Luke with the spices to prepare Jesus body for a proper burial. It is not hard to believe that these ladies had performed this service for other friends and family they had known. It was the one last thing they could do for this man who had meant so very much to them.
It is also possible that they were present as the ground shook and reeled as it had done when Jesus was on the cross. Just one more thing to rattle their grief-shattered nerves. The angel that opened the tomb revealed himself to them as he rolled back the stone. His shining person and clothing must have been as stunning as the tremor. The angel greeted the witnesses, including the Roman guards, with the phrase "Do not be afraid …". We hear that phrase so often. There before them was the doorway to the tomb - the Roman seal broken - and a being explaining that Jesus was risen from the dead. Stunned and confused, the words seem to have bounced right off their ears as though they were never spoken.
The women may have found it odd that the stench of death did not spill out of the tomb. Jesus had been dead for three days after all. It must have broken their hearts to see the empty tomb. The sight that should have been welcomed became one more torment for them. Almost inexplicably, John records the women running back to town telling Peter and John that Jesus' body was missing and they didn't know where He had been taken. It is possible they were simply overwhelmed with shock. John and Peter may have looked at each other wondering if Jesus' promise could have come true. John won the famous foot race to the open tomb.
John 20:13-18 And they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." 14 When she had said this, she turned around, and beheld Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away." 16 Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" (which means, Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren, and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'" 18 Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and that He had said these things to her. (NAS)
After Peter and John had left in wonder and wondering, Peter dejected and John with new hope. Mary Magdalene is once again left to wonder in her grief. Jesus had arranged for this private meeting. The hope that had been ignited in Mary's life when her Lord had freed her from the torment of seven demons had been nearly snuffed out when Jesus had died on the cross. A tiny spark still glowed, hoping against hope. Her heartbreak is evident when she offers the gardener to relieve him of Jesus body. Gently Jesus calls her by name. The life and hope that exploded in her are equally evident as she locks her beloved Master in a hug refusing to let Him go. After a brief talk, she has the privilege of returning with the news that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him. Daybreak had come to her heart and that hope would never set again.
Mary was exactly on target devotionally, in her desire to be near and serve Jesus, her Messiah. He had saved her already from a life of torment and the captivity of possession. Then she opened her heart to the news that God loved her and wanted to spend eternity with her - salvation. The story for us is similar, if not as dramatic. We who know Jesus as Savior have been spared the torment and fear of death, and have been freed from the captivity of sin. Is our devotion to Jesus as evident as it was in the life of Mary Magdalene?
Luke 7:47 "For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." (NAS)
As it is revealed to us just how much we are forgiven, we love the One Who forgave us more and more.
Lord Jesus - The freedom You gave to Mary is the same freedom that we who call You Lord all know. The knowledge that we are freed from sin and death, released from our debts and loved in spite of who we have been is like a bright sunrise. It is the hope You offer to the world. Help us to bring that sunrise to the lives of those around us. Prepare the hearts of those around us for the news, help them to see the difference in our lives.