AS MORNING’S first light nudged the last of the darkness, Mary Magdalene walked with heavy heart and feet along the dirt road. The garden’s birdsong and fragrant blossoms, usually welcomed, suffocated her and assaulted her senses.
Mary’s first encounter with Jesus altered the course of her life forever. Possessed by seven demons, she was trapped in darkness, no companionship except the spirits that sought to cause her harm and evil. Anxiety, depression, and distress defined her. She was full but so empty.
Casting out the demons, Jesus created space for a filling of new, good things. She was empty but quickly filled with devotion to Jesus. Mary and other healed women followed Jesus, taking care of him as he traveled, teaching and preaching. Drawn to his loving countenance, Mary had never experienced such grace and compassion.
And then everything changed. They had taken Jesus, savagely beaten him, and hung him on the cross between two criminals. Although part of her wanted to hide, she had to be there; she had to see.
As they took his dead body from the cross and carried him away, Mary was empty. Her hope was smashed, and her future was uncertain. And yet she had to honor him. His body had not been properly prepared for burial due to the quickly approaching Sabbath. And so, as soon as the law allowed, she’d set out to finish.
With the stone rolled away, the coolness of the tomb joined that of the early morning. It testified to the emptiness she could no longer hold in. Sobbing, bending low, she looked in.
“Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” asked the angels, one at the head and one at the feet where Jesus’ body had laid.
“Because they’ve taken my Lord, and I don’t know where,” Mary answered them.
Turning and standing again, Mary saw a man who asked the same questions.
“Please, just tell me where you took his body,” Mary pleaded, seeing but not at all comprehending, the man was Jesus.
It was all Jesus said – all he had to say – to open her eyes to his true identity.
And while she longed to embrace him and linger with him, she obediently went to carry his message to the disciples.
Filled with good news and resurrected hope, surely she ran. The morning light washed her weary body. The birdsong and blossoms carried her along the dirt road, her feet barely touching the ground.
“I’ve seen the Lord!” she announced.
The first to proclaim it, Mary Magdalene, reminds us when we go empty to Jesus, He never fails to fill us. -GN