Dear Brothers and Sisters, Christ is Risen! Alleluia!
I hope I'm not being presumptuous by writing here, but I want to share with you this story that I wrote 35 years ago:
Hers was an empty soul. Nobody in all her life had ever cared for her for who she was. When she was a child, her parents had always criticized her. She could never do anything right. Not once did they say, “I love you.”
Playing with the other children in her village, she constantly tried to get the attention of everybody—and of course only got their cruel actions and words. When she was a teenager, oh, some of the boys in the village became interested in her, but not because they cared about her feelings and her thoughts.
And so she grew up, empty and alone, and became a survivor. She learned how to use people to get what she wanted and needed. But her soul was empty, and she went through life friendless, alone, discouraged.
Into her empty soul came seven demons to torment her. They made her lash out at the people around her and become unbearable to live with—she could barely live with herself. She got involved with drugs and other self-destructive behavior. She was alone, friendless and possessed by seven demons.
Then one day, the teacher from Nazareth came and reached into the hard shell she had built around herself, and made her feel loved, and respected and important. And he cast those demons out of her!, so that she became one of his devoted followers with some other women from Galilee.
With his followers she accompanied him to Jerusalem on that last trip. She was there that Sunday when the crowds shouted their Hosannas, and she was shouting along with them, because her Lord meant so much to her. And on Friday, she was on the fringes of the crowd—those who were shouting, “Crucify him!” She saw his lacerated body, the crown of thorns on his head, the blood streaming down his brow, the purple robe of mockery on his back. Every time they shouted, “Crucify him!”, the tears welled up again in her eyes. And yet she had hope: Surely this would not happen to her beloved Lord!
Then she stumbled along, crying and wailing, as he carried his cross up the hill to the Place of the Skull. She stood there with the other women as she saw him breathe his last. And in stunned silence and grief, she watched as Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus placed his body in the tomb.
Then early Sunday morning, still in shock and grief, unable to sleep, before dawn she made her way to the tomb of her beloved friend and Lord, to spend time there, as we sometimes spend time in our grief at the graves of our loved ones. When she got there, she saw that the huge stone was no longer in front of the tomb. Oh, no! They’ve taken his body somewhere! Couldn’t they even let him alone in death?
She ran back to the city to get Peter. Pounding on his door, she cried, “Wake up, Peter! Wake up! They’ve taken him away! O, Peter, come on! They’ve taken him. I don’t know where they have put him!” Finally, Peter sleepily appeared at his door, and Mary gave her message once more. “Come quickly! They have taken the Lord’s body, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
Peter got John, and the two of them ran ahead to the tomb, Mary making her way as quickly as she could behind them. When she finally got there, Peter and John were no longer around. Tears streaming down her face, she looked into the tomb and saw two men sitting there. They asked, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
“Because they have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they have put him.”
Then she heard a voice behind her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
Turning around, through tear-flooded eyes she saw a man standing there. The gardener—the caretaker of this place! “Sir, if you have taken him away, show me where you put him, that I may take him!”
The stranger spoke again, “Mary!”
That voice! It is the Lord! “Teacher!” she says. Her Lord is alive! And from this day forward, her life will never be the same. He is alive, and she knows at this moment that from now on, whether she sees him or not, his Spirit will be with her.
Sure, she’ll still have troubles in life. There will be those who don’t understand her. There will always be arguments with others. And if she teaches a Sunday School class, there will be those who won’t let their children go, because, “We know what kind of woman she is.” Or, if she preaches a sermon, they’ll say, “What right does that woman have to talk like that?” But the Lord has changed her life! “Yes, but she is an unstable person. She was unstable when she was possessed by those demons, and she is just as unstable now that she is so fanatical about Jesus.” And she will become sick, and she will approach death’s door, but even so, her life is different, because the Lord Jesus lives. She knows that all this around her ultimately doesn’t matter, because nothing anymore can separate her from the Lord Jesus and his love.
Mary's Easter Morn, © 1986 Thomas J. Keener
-A blessed Easter to all!