He Is Not Here – Easter – April 16, 2017 – Luke 24: 1 – 12

My name is Mary. I used to live in Migdal. You probably know me as Mary Magdalene or the Magdelene.

I have been misunderstood my whole life. I have been shunned and shamed. I was lost and tormented. I sought happiness in all the wrong places. That all changed when I met Jesus.

I used to suffer in my mind. The doctors didn’t know how to treat me. My mental state was a wreck. When I was anxious and sleepless, I spent days like a zombie. When I was depressed, I did nothing but sleep unable to deal with life. Some days I coped better than others. Some days were good. Some days were great. Many days were bad. I sought happiness any way it might come even for a fleeting moment.

I am a woman of means. Independent. I tried to buy happiness when I was sick. Because I am wealthy, I had the means to not need a husband, but no man would have wanted to marry a crazy woman. I craved affection and love. I turned to men who used me and abused me, who never cared for me, just to share a few minutes of contact. No matter how many men I entertained I still felt empty and alone.

Other women saw my money, independence and rotation of overnight guests and thought I was in the business of pleasure. The men never stayed long enough to know me. The women never got close enough to understand me. I was condemned by their judgment.

Then, I met Jesus. He changed everything. He didn’t judge me. He saw I was sick. HE HEALED ME! He shed light into the darkness of my mind and cast out the demons that tormented me.

Everything was new. I could sleep through the night and was able to face the next day without dread and fear. I was alive again. I was alert and active. I was free.

Jesus not only gave me my life back. He gave me a community. He invited me to go with Him and His friends. He allowed me to be one of His students. Now, I know you probably don’t count me among His disciples. I’m not a man so I don’t often get counted. That’s just how it is for women. But, still, I was right there every day watching Him perform miracles and listening to Him teach.

Sometimes I get frustrated that the guys try to leave me out or get jealous of me and Jesus. Perhaps one or 2 just tolerate me because I’m funding the ministry. Jesus and I have a special friendship. We’re companions. It’s not romantic or anything. We just enjoy each other’s company. He’s not like the other men I’ve known. He doesn’t want to exploit me or take advantage of me. He’s not looking to get something from me. He knows me and loves me for who I am.

I can’t describe the last week of events. It all happened so fast. I still can’t believe how it all went down. One minute we’re all together enjoying dinner, laughing, singing, having a good time, and the next He’s dead.

I went out with Mary, His mother, Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary the mother of James, Salome and the other women to the place where Jesus was crucified. It was morning when they nailed Him to the Cross and raised Him up. It was terrible watching Him. His mother Mary was in agony. We all suffered in mourning, but nothing like He was suffering.

He talked a lot while He was on the Cross. He talked to His mother and the disciples about family. He talked to the men being crucified next to Him about Heaven. At noon, the sky grew dark. I think it was around that time that He started praying the Psalms. I heard Him recite Psalm 22, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” He prayed, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” He told us that it was finished. About 3 o’clock, he bowed His head and breathed His last breath.

One of Jesus’ friends Joseph got permission from Pilate to bury Jesus in a garden tomb near the Cross. His body was wrapped in linen cloth and laid in the tomb. I was there. I watched Him laid on the cold, hard stone in the damp, dark cave. We left Him there. It was late and dark. We were all tired. The Sabbath was close. We all went home to try to get some sleep.

This morning, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, other women and I went to the tomb to prepare Jesus for a proper burial. What we found was shocking! The stone covering the cave had been rolled away. Two angels stood in the tomb. We were terrified. We didn’t know what had happened. The angels said, “He is not here. He has risen.”

I couldn’t believe it. What did it mean that He had risen. I had to tell Peter. We all ran back to where the disciples were and told them what we had seen and what the angels had told us. Of course, Peter didn’t believe me. He ran down to the tomb to see for himself. Peter went home, but I stayed in the garden to pray.

I cried. I didn’t understand. I was confused. I just wanted to do right by Jesus and bury Him properly. I just sat and cried and prayed.

Through the tears filling my eyes, I saw the silhouette of a man. I thought it was the gardener. I asked, “Please. Tell me where you took my friend.” The man said my name. Mary. And I knew it was Him. I knew it was Jesus. He had said my name so many times it was unmistakably His voice, but I couldn’t believe it. He was alive! He is alive! I still can’t believe it. He’s alive!

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