Meanwhile back in the upper room, Mary Magdalene could not rest with doubt hanging over the fate of the Lords body. Soon after Peter and John had left for the sepulcher, Mary had run after them, slowly this time, using the last of her energy.
When she arrived at the grave, they had already gone, and she only knew her Savior was still missing. Extremely tired, Mary stood outside weeping, then bent down and looked inside.
Again, two angels appeared in white clothing, one sitting at the head, the other sitting at the feet of where Jesus had been. Woman, why are you weeping? they asked.
Because they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him. She wondered if the angels could help her.
The same gentle question was repeatedthis time from outside, Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek? Jesus spoke those words!
She dragged herself around to see him standing right in front of her, but tears blinded her and she could not recognize him. Supposing him to be the gardener, hope was born in her again. He would know where her beloved Lord was. She spoke, her voice hoarse and broken with her weeping, Sir, if you have removed him, tell me where you have laid him and I will take him away.
This depth of agony and love was the key that opened the heart of Jesus. A moments pause, and he spoke her name that had first unbound her from sevenfold demonic power. It was another unbinding, another call to a new life. Mary! was all he needed to say.
With just his voice, Marys bruised mind was healed and her blind eyes were opened. She looked up and saw him who had been dead alive again, young and most glorious in the rising sun. The body that had been tortured was strong with new strength; the head that had been marred with thorns was alight with new beauty. And yet he was the same Jesus of Nazareth whom she knew, and would be her Master and Lord forever.
Kneeling at his feet she gave him the joyous greeting, Rabboni! (Hebrew: my Teacher), and reached out her hands to touch his shining feet and hold his robe of light in her hands. She wanted to take hold of the precious treasure which she thought forever lost.
Do not cling to me, he said gently, for I have not yet ascended to my Father. But go to my brethren, and tell them that I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. He kindly weaned her away from the former physical homage and worship.
A little later his children would be able to touch him, to hold his warm living hands and touch gently the scars upon them; but he did not want Mary clinging to his physical body, for very soon he would no longer be in it. There was a future completion before him in the ascension and return in the Spirit at Pentecost, which Mary did not know. Between that future of completion and the past of work, the present was a gap belonging partly to the past and partly to the future. He was to leave her permanently and be worshipped in the spirit, where all meet and are one in God the Father.
Her eyes were swimming now with tears of joy. Mary turned blindly toward her beloved Masterbut he was no longer there. The garden was empty with only the tombs door wide open and the memory of his voice lingering in her thoughts. Now she understood and felt honored. Jesus had indeed risen from the dead on the third dayand he had first appeared to her!
With new strength, she rushed to the waiting disciples with the good news, I have seen the Lord! Prophecy has been fulfilled. He has risen!
Jesus second appearance on Sunday was to Mary Clopas, Salome, Joanna, and the other women who went to the tomb. They ran to him and looked up in worship. Greetings, he said, do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there. Christ confirmed the message that had been previously delivered through angels. After he left them, the women immediately went back to the upper room with his message.
The apostles would see their risen Lord again and receive instructions directly from him. His circle of followers would be regathered, and the apostolic commission would be renewed and enlarged in Galilee. This was not the end, but the beginning of a new ministry!
Guards Report to Jewish Rulers
In another part of the city, something totally opposite was going on. A few of the Roman soldiers who had been guarding the tomb went privately to the chief priests at Caiaphas home and told them what had happened. The high priest and other officials were eyewitnesses to the sealing of the tomb and knew no one had tampered with it, so a meeting of the elders was called to decide what to do next.
Their solution was to offer the soldiers a substantial bribe. Caiaphas told the guards, You must say, Jesus disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body. If the governor hears about it, well stand up for you, put matters right with him, and see that you do not suffer. The penalty for Roman guards sleeping on duty was execution, and they needed to be guaranteed they wouldnt be put to death for what the priests told them to say.
Then he assured them, We think its a magicians trick. In any case the whole thing will be forgotten in the morning.
Annas thought to himself, I wonder
The guards accepted the bribe and their story spread widely among the Jews, but it was too late. Gods redemption plan was already completed and the truth was being proclaimed throughout the city and countryside. Unwittingly, the conspirators contributed to the verification of Christs resurrection power.