At the Grave of Jesus. .. Luke 23:55
They witnessed his burial. His body lay there, lifeless... pale... inside the white linen shroud. The women held each other for comfort; they couldn't believe what they were seeing; His lifeless body. Lifeless? How could He be lifeless? After all that He had done... after all He had said... Hadn't he confronted evil everywhere he went? Didn't the demons run screaming away from him? Hadn't he proven he was stronger than death? But now the darkness of the death held him, and his life was gone. The brightness of his eyes... the smile that brought warmth... the voice that calmed fears... they were all gone. Mary Magdalene struggled to remember his voice. She remembered how gently it would come over her when he spoke. She remembered how the sound would fill her like life itself. She remembered how fear and doubt evaporated into nothing. She wanted to hear it now... as she looked in the tomb... the tomb where her Lord lay dead. Mary's mind traced over the time she had spent with him, following him, watching him, and listening to him. What would he say at this moment? What words of hope would he offer? Hope? Yes, that was it... he would give her hope. But, what hope was there in the face of death? What hope was there as she stood staring into the dark hole that swallowed up everyone? Death was her future. Death was the future of all who breathed and dreamed. Every time she visited a grave she saw it. Each death she witnessed brought her own into focus. Every death moved the darkness a little closer. The darkness would come to her, soon enough. And yet, with the crucified Jesus lying before her there must be some hope. He had spoken of death often enough. She remembered the little girl, who died of a fever. "Why do you weep? She is only sleeping." Jesus said. His words filled Mary's mind as she remembered being told how Jesus lifted the girl alive again to her mother's arms. But, most of all she remembered the words Jesus had spoken at the grave of Lazarus. When they all stood there looking into that open grave, just like they were looking now into his. "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will never die." The sound of the rolling stone pushed his words from her mind, and the loud dull thud that sealed the tomb left only silence. But, in that silence she realized that death was sealed there in that tomb with Jesus. The death of all those she had mourned... the death her of parents... the death of her friends... and even her own death lay there wrapped in that shroud and sealed in that tomb. And in her mind, was a flicker of hope, like a single candle in a darkened room. It was hope that was stronger than the image of her dead Lord that now filled her mind. It was hope that knew that this was not the end.