Have you ever gone from the mountain top of joy to the depths of despair in what feels like the blink of an eye? One moment all is right with the world and the next, it’s a very dark place? That’s how I imagine Mary, the character in this week’s “God Story”, felt.
She likely was part of the Jesus entourage coming into Jerusalem. She watched as the crowds lined the streets and lay their palm branches before Jesus. Her voice probably joined theirs crying “Hosanna”.
When you think about it, it’s ironic that they would shout “Hosanna” as Jesus passed. By that time in history it was just an expression like “Hurray” or “Woo Hoo”, but literally translated from Hebrew it means “Save us!” So imagine, crowds of people lining the street calling out to Jesus “Save us!” when a few hours later, these same voices would cry out “crucify him” –Still, underneath all that anger directed at him later, even though the words were different, the crowds were still calling out to Jesus, “save us”.
After coming into the city, things went downhill. Jesus was arrested, tried, crucified, then died, and everything Mary Magdalene had built her new life on was gone in a moment. That’s where our story starts. In that dark place where everything she had pinned her hopes on had disappointed her.
She was alone coming to the tomb early in the morning when it was still dark. She didn’t feel the cold, she probably didn’t feel anything anymore. All her tears were used up, she was empty, like a wrung out rag. Not having much sleep over the last few days, she was exhausted, going through the motions of what needed to be done. Someone had to take care of the body.
But when she arrived… the stone was already moved and the body was gone. Even though she thought she couldn’t feel anything anymore, this caused her heart to race. Hadn’t these people done enough to this gentle man? They beat him, they tortured him, they killed him, and now they were going to desecrate his body?
Not knowing what else to do, she ran to tell the disciples that Jesus was missing then returned to the garden tomb, alone.
Mary had been so certain there were no tears left. If that was true, why were her cheeks wet? Still, she didn’t care, she just wanted Jesus back.
“Woman, why are you crying?”
The voice startled her. Assuming it was the gardener and not looking she replied, “If you moved him, just tell me where he is and I’ll go get him.”
What she heard next changed everything. One word… “Mary.”
She thought it sounded like… It couldn’t be. – Surly her mind was playing tricks on her… yet – when she looked – it was HIM.
Like an arrow shot from a bow, she flung herself at him.
“Teacher!” she cried, touching his face, his arms his hands. Was this real? She clung to him like a man clings to the edge of cliff. He was real, not a figment of her imagination.
After a while he said. “Mary, You can let go. I’m not going anywhere yet.”
What an experience Mary had! Many of us, like Mary, have found ourselves in a dark place. Lonely, exhausted, empty, and hopeless. Surprisingly, Christmas can be just that kind of time for many. We are so consumed by the busyness of the season or painful memories it’s like someone has “moved Jesus” and we “don’t know where they put him.”
I challenge to you this season to, like Mary, “Cling to Jesus” – hold tightly to Him during this season. Listen and believe it when he tells you “I’m not going anywhere”. Read this story for yourself in John 20:1-18.
(As we explore how to Tell Your Story, each contributor will share a part of their God story with us. April’s Story is here.)
We’d love to hear from you. Share with us how you keep Jesus front and center during your holiday season!