On the dawn of Sunday, severe mourning swept through the land of Judea. In the hearts of some, life was fearfully different. Three days earlier, the Son of God had been brutally murdered on a cross—the symbol of a violent death.
The following is an account taken from Matthew 28:1-4, Mark 16:1-4, 9-11, Luke 24:1-3, and John 20:1-18. The events have been arranged in chronological order.
Still lamenting His death, Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James), Salome, and Joanna left their homes to visit the tomb where Jesus’ body was buried. They desired to anoint the body to offset the stench of decay.
The sun had yet to rise. They wondered to themselves, “Who will roll away the stone for us to enter the tomb when we arrive?” Suddenly, the thunderous sound of a mighty earthquake shook the land. An angel descended from heaven and rolled the stone back so that the entrance to the tomb was open.
Jesus was already gone.
The women rushed toward the tomb. The morning sun made it easier for them to find their way to the entrance. By now, the guards had awakened and fled in fear. The angel, no longer needing to guard the tomb from the Romans, disappeared.
The women arrived to see the massive stone rolled aside and an open tomb. Emotions surged through their hearts. Each looked intently into the tomb to discover Jesus’ body missing and concluded it was stolen.
Overwhelmed, Mary Magdalene dashed off to tell Peter and John. They raced back with John arriving first, but he hesitated to enter. He saw the linen cloths inside. Peter finally arrived and ran inside with no hesitation, only to find the same cloths but no body. John walked in afterward. Both of the disciples believed Mary Magdalene, that the body of Jesus had been stolen. Perplexed, they returned home to contemplate.
Doubly saddened, the women wept outside the tomb. Mary, bent on finding out what happened, looked one last time in the tomb and saw two angels appearing like men. They asked her, “Why are you weeping?” She responded, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”
Desperate to discover what might have happened to the body of her Lord, Mary looked through the garden surrounding the tomb. She saw no evidence to aid her investigation, only a supposed gardener. As she walked toward the gardener to inquire, he called out to her first, “Why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
Not close enough to see the gardener’s face, she ignored his question, assuming he knew whom she was seeking. “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Ignoring her plea, the gardener called her by name, “Mary.”
All other sounds hushed.
She recognized her name with that voice. He was no gardener. He was Jesus. Alive. A torrent of joy rushed within her, and she ran to embrace Him. “Rabboni!” she said, falling to His feet. “My Teacher. My Lord.”
Mary, once a troubled host of demonic activity, had been instantly liberated by a merciful man who became her Lord (Lk. 8:2). She had followed Jesus ever since. She was there during most of His mock trials. She heard Pilate pronounce the death sentence. She witnessed her Lord humiliated and beaten in public. She was there at the cross trying to comfort Him. After His death, she sought out to anoint His decaying body.
In her mourning, she was liberated yet again. A dead savior is no savior at all. A risen savior, on the other hand, frees indeed. She was freed from the unrest of a hopeless future, freed from the agony of inner conflict, freed from the guilt of unforgiven sin.
Her Lord had risen, and her salvation was won. Her future was secured. Her heart was calmed. Her sin forgiven. All because Jesus resurrected.
Unsurprisingly, she clung to Him. This time, she would not let Him go. But Jesus had other plans. “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Delighted to obey the Lord, she did as He said.
Jesus was not the gardener of the field that day. He was the gardener of the soul. And now, as the resurrected Christ, He lives to garden our hearts even today. He uproots uncertainty, resolves the anguish, and forgives the sin.
Because Jesus has risen, you don’t have to weep.