How much sorrow must a person endure? How could she withstand another crashing wave of disappointment?
Mary Magdalene had been down the road of despair before, confused and tormented by the devil. Then she met Jesus, who freed her from Satan’s power and gave her hope. But then came that dark afternoon when soldiers nailed Jesus to a cross. For Mary and all the other disciples who loved him so dearly, hope drained to the ground along with his blood.
Overwhelmed by grief, Mary wanted to see his body one more time and anoint it with spices in a final gesture of appreciation. When she and two other women arrived at the tomb early in the morning, their broken hearts endured yet another blow. The stone had been removed from the front of the tomb. Jesus’ body was gone.
Bitterly disappointed because she couldn’t anoint the body of her beloved Lord, Mary burst into tears near the empty tomb, barely noticing the man standing behind her. He asked, “‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him’” (John 20:15).
It was Jesus, who had risen from the dead! Mary was standing in the presence of the living Lord, but she didn’t realize it. Actually, her mistake is understandable. Her eyes were filled with tears, and early morning fog may have lingered in the still-dark garden. Mary’s whiplashed emotions made it difficult for her mind to grasp history’s greatest miracle. In your own life, have there been times when the Lord was right there with you, but you didn’t recognize his presence?
A PLACE WHERE THINGS GROW
The Bible says, “At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid” (John 19:41). It’s interesting that Jesus was buried in a place where things grow. On the farm where I grew up, our garden was an integral part of our family’s food supply. We canned and froze tomatoes, corn, green beans, and other fruit and vegetables. In my travels I have seen artfully landscaped gardens in England, Austria, New Zealand, and Japan filled with beautiful flowers, shrubs, and trees. Solomon built palatial gardens and parks where fruit trees were watered by reservoirs (Ecclesiastes 2:5-6). God seems to have a special place in his heart for gardens. At the beginning of human history, he walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Jesus poured out heartfelt prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane. The book of Revelation pictures a crystal-clear river and a tree that continually bears fruit in the paradise God is preparing for the faithful.
When Jesus called Mary’s name, she recognized him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). At first, she mistook him for a gardener, and in a way, she wasn’t wrong.
Jesus skillfully trims and prunes his followers so they will bear more fruit (John 15:1-8). He is a wise teacher who wants his students to produce a harvest of “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).