Thursday, April 2, 2015

Woman, why are you weeping?

Woman, why are you weeping?

It was daybreak in Jerusalem.  The sunbeams were just beginning to spill over the Mount of Olives and the birds were waking.  To Mary, their melody had more clarity than she’d ever noticed before and it seemed like every bird in Judea was singing with all its heart.  Though she loved hearing birds, she wished they’d tone down their joyous chorus, as she was in no frame of mind to rejoice. She had a job to do.  
Dread flooded her mind as she thought of again seeing and touching Jesus’ dead body.  Yet she yearned to be near Him once more.  She needed to anoint Him with the customary burial spices.  The task could not be performed right after He was lowered from the cross and laid in Joseph’s tomb because it was late in the afternoon and nearly sundown on the Sabbath.
Mary’s mind raced as she walked quickly toward the garden tomb.  She hoped the Roman guards would be willing to roll away the massive stone that sealed the entrance.  She thought about how privileged she was to get to honor her Lord this way and recalled how broken she was before meeting Jesus.
Mary had never met anyone like Jesus. He’s the One who had cast from her seven demons.  He’s the One who did not condemn her for her sins but instead lavished her with compassion and forgiveness. 
Never a man spoke like Jesus.  Mary had followed Him all over Galilee, listening to his teachings and witnessing His miracles.  She believed he was surely the long awaited Messiah. 
Yet they killed Him.  She couldn’t understand how this could have happened to an innocent man who did so much good and spoke such peace.  In disbelief, she wiped a tear from her eye and continued to walk.
The narrow path took her through the garden.  She didn’t even notice the array of brilliant wildflowers along the way but their gentle fragrance captured her attention.  As she neared the tomb, she stopped for a moment.  She stood there with eyes closed and whispered a prayer asking Yahweh to give her strength.  She took as deep breath, then continued on.
As Mary got within sight of the tomb she was confused by what she saw.  She stopped, rubbed her eyes and gazed ahead at what appeared to be an open tomb.  She glanced around, then ran to the opening, right past two Roman soldiers laying on the ground appearing to be sound asleep. 
She stepped inside as the sun streamed in, showing her the truth that she had not expected.  The tomb was empty!  He was gone!  Jesus was not there!
She whispered a quick, “What? --- Where?” and turned and ran to find Peter and John, who were together mourning the death of their Master.

They looked up at Mary as she poured out her announcement, “They’ve taken away the Lord from the tomb and I don’t know where they’ve laid Him!” 
The two disciples jumped up and ran to the garden. They entered the tomb to find Jesus gone and the linen cloths lying there. The facecloth that had been around His head was neatly folded and placed to the side.  Peter and John didn’t understand what had happened either.    
In his Gospel account, John wrote, “For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away to their own homes.”  John 20:9-10 MKJV
So we wonder----- apparently Peter and John did not remember or comprehend that Jesus had told them He would rise again on the third day.
Continuing in John’s Gospel, he went on to explain what happened next:
But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 Then 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 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw 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?’   She, supposing Him to be the gardener, 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, ‘Rabboni!’ (which is to say, Teacher).”
When Jesus called out her name, she knew with certainty it was really Him. 

The same Jesus, Who had lifted her out of torment and shame, now stood before her--- resurrected from the dead--- alive again.  The same compassion she had known before poured out on her again when she heard Him ask, “Why are you weeping?”
Jesus showed Mary, in that moment, that she needn’t weep any more.  Her Savior was no longer dead and lying in a cold, dark tomb.  He had conquered death.  He had put Hell in its place and proved the grave could not hold Him.
Years later, John the Gospel writer was also John the Revelator. In his encounter with Jesus on the Isle of Patmos, John wrote, “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.’”
“Woman, why are you weeping?” is a question not just for Mary--- and not just for women.  Jesus won the eternal victory over death that day, not just for Himself, but for those of us who are in His family.  He has conquered death for us as well.   We can dry our eyes and be assured that the sting of death has been removed.
If you know Jesus as your Savior, I know you rejoice with me in this assurance.  If you do not know Jesus as your Savior or are not sure enough to be assured of your own eternal destiny, please take care of that matter right here, right now.  This is the bottom line on why Jesus left His Heavenly home and came to earth to die on the cross and rise again.  You must believe in your heart this story from the Bible is true. Think now--- you know it’s really true, don’t you?  Please pray this prayer to receive Jesus and His eternal life: “Heavenly Father, I know I’ve sinned and I need Your forgiveness. I now believe that Jesus is Your Son and He took the punishment I deserved for my sins.  I want to receive Him now as my Savior.  Thank You, God. In Jesus name I pray---- Amen.”
If you’ve just prayed that prayer and meant it, I welcome you to the family of God.  If possible, tell someone who is a committed Christian, about the decision you’ve just made.  Also, I encourage you to talk to God daily in prayer, read and study your Bible routinely and become a regular participant of a good Bible teaching church fellowship. 
We needn’t weep any more.  All is not lost when a fellow follower of Jesus dies.  We’re on this earth for a short while.  Doesn’t time seem to just fly by?  But eternity is a long, long time and we, who are in Christ’s family, sure have a lot to look forward to.  He is risen indeed!
May God richly bless us all as we joyously celebrate Resurrection Sunday!

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