“Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were [at the burial of Jesus], sitting opposite the tomb.” — Matthew 27:61
The death of Jesus was horrific. The final exhalation of Jesus did not give way to peace on earth nor a sense of tranquility. Pure chaos erupted as Jesus exhaled his last breath – the curtain was ripped, the earth began to shake, the rocks began to split, and the tombs began to break open.
Many women were at the crucifixion of Jesus and witnessed his death. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (the mother of James and Joseph) were among these women.
These women remained with Jesus as his exhausted body hung from the cross. They remained with Jesus as his broken body was lowered to the crowd. They followed Joseph of Arimathea as he carried the body of Jesus to its final resting place.
“Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were [at the burial of Jesus], sitting opposite the tomb.” (Matthew 27:61) These two women witnessed Jospeh place the body of Jesus in the tomb and roll the large stone in front of the entrance to the sepulcher. Evening was dawning as the sun slipped below the horizon. It was the Sabbath day; they would need to hurry home and return the following day to continue their vigil.
That Holy Saturday following the death of Jesus was marked by silence. The followers of Jesus had retreated to hidden quarters. Many of the disciples and the other followers of Jesus returned to the room were the Passover was shared. They hid from the authorities in the room where they previously recalled Israel’s escape from Egypt. They hid within the room where Jesus pointed to his body and his blood as the source of their liberation from the punishment of sin.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary must have sat unsettled. They had witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus, the death of Jesus, and the burial of Jesus. These women, however, had not fully observed his vigil. During the early hours of the morning, as the sun began to rise on the third day, these women left their place of hiding and went to see the tomb.
They intended to pray, to grieve, and to pay their respect to Jesus.
They returned to the place where they knew Jesus would be; or, at least, they returned to the place where they expected his body to be at rest.
Only, Jesus was not there!
The tomb was empty.
Where was Jesus?
If there is one thing we can appreciate, it would be the reaction of the disciples following the death of Jesus. Like many of the disciples and followers of Jesus, we spend the majority of our time in hiding. The disciples were not hiding because they felt differently about Jesus. They were in hiding, because they believed Jesus was dead and they feared the consequence for associating with this man. We hide, as well. We hide sometimes, (though we may not want to admit it), because Jesus feels dead to us…
Do we really want to face the consequences of associating with a dead man?
At our best, we have moments such as Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. These women returned to the place where the body of Jesus was laid to rest. They went to the place where they believed Jesus would be…only he is not there. Jesus was not in the one place he was supposed to be.
Do we not share this experience? Have there not been times in your life when you stepped out from your place of hiding so that you could go to Jesus only to discover he was not there? Have you never gone to place Jesus is supposed to be and discovered his absence?
Maybe you have looked for Jesus in church, but struggle to feel his presence.
Maybe you have looked for Jesus in others, but struggle to feel his presence.
Maybe you have looked for Jesus in prayer, but struggle to feel his presence.
Maybe you have looked for Jesus in Scripture, but struggle to feel his presence.
Maybe you have looked for Jesus in all the right places only to discover he is not there!!
What are we to do? What are we to do when the right places prove to be the wrong places? Where are we to find Jesus?
What an interesting question…
What an interesting question to consider over this Holy Triduum as we prepare for Easter Sunday, when followers of Jesus will join together in celebrating the presence of the Risen Lord!!!