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Cold And Empty – Mary Magdalene

By Ron Hughes

Ron continues his “I Was There” series by recounting the dramatic garden encounter between the risen Jesus and Mary Magdalene.  This series of posts recount the thoughts and actions of various individuals before and after the momentous happenings at Calvary. Read “Mary of Bethany” the first post in the series here.

Ron Hughes is the president of FBH International and has decades of experience in Christian mass communications. Recently Ron has overseen the launching of HopeStreamRadio, a Christian internet radio ministry. One of Ron’s passions is writing and he shares this passion with others on his program, “Author Interview.

Mary Magdalene Walks In The Darkness

The sharpness of her grief had subsided to a numb heaviness.  Emotionally spent, physically exhausted, and spiritually empty, Mary walked in the darkness.  Any semblance of restful sleep eluded her, so she rose long before dawn and headed for the Damascus gate which would take her north out of the city to the tomb.  Though too early to meet the other women at first light to take spices, she couldn’t deny herself the comfort of being near Him, even if a great stone separated them.


As she thought of the stone, a practical matter arose in her mind.  She had watched Nicodemus and Joseph close the tomb.  How would the women be able to open in when they brought their spices later that morning?

Resurrection of JesusAn Open Tomb

In spite of the darkness, Mary did not doubt that she would be able to recognize the tomb.  She had lingered there after the men left.  Her memory held every detail, but when she arrived at the place, she felt disoriented.  She looked around her, but did not see the sealed tomb.  One tomb nearby stood open, but she did not identify Jesus’ tomb as quickly as she thought she would.

A little cry escaped her lips when she suddenly realized that the tomb she sought was the open one.  The stone had been rolled away from the mouth of the cave.  That’s why her memory of it did not match the reality before her.  Something had happened in the night.  She must tell the disciples.  With her cloak billowing and her headscarf flying behind her she ran back to the upper room where the disciples had spent the night.

Peter and John met her at the door as her tongue tripped over itself as she spilled out the words, “They have taken the Master.  He’s not in the tomb.  We don’t know where they have put Him.”  It took a moment for the men to comprehend the significance of her words, but when they did, they ran off together in the direction of the tomb.

He Was Not There!

By now, the other women would be stirring.  They would be expecting to meet her soon.  She returned to the tomb with her heart equally cold and empty.  Peter and John had left, no doubt returning to the city as confounded as she had been.   She stood by open tomb, weeping.  She had seen the men put the Master’s body inside.  Instinctively, she stooped to look inside to confirm what she already knew in her heart—He was not there.

But the tomb was not empty.  Two angels in white sat on the low stone bench where the Master’s body lay.  One sat where His head had been, the other at His feet.  “Why are you weeping?” they asked.  Mary had never expected to have a conversation with an angel.  Perhaps it was the ordinariness of the question which prompted her to respond simply and directly, “Because they have taken away my Master, and I don’t know where they have put Him.”

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Jesus & Mary MagdaleneWho Are You Looking For?

After this odd little encounter, Mary stood erect and turned from the mouth of the tomb, sensing a presence behind her.  A man stood there, the gardener, no doubt, come early to tend to his duties.  Perhaps he had been present when whoever stole the body of Jesus had carried out their sinister operation. But before she could confront him, he spoke to her.  He had two questions.

“Woman, why are you crying? Whom are you looking for?”

This was her chance.  “Sir, if You are the one who took Him away, tell me where You have put Him, and I will take Him away.”  She spoke out of deep emotion, disregarding the fact that she had seen two men struggling to carry the body of the Master when they had put Him into the tomb.

“Mary.”  Just one word.  Her name.  But when He spoke it, she recognized Him.

“Rabboni!” she cried, sinking to her knees, overcome at the sight of Him and ready to clutch His feet so that He could never get away from her again.

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A Command For Mary Magdalene

He spoke again—a warning, but spoke in the gentlest tones.  “Do not try to hold on to Me, for I have not yet gone to My Father.  But here’s what I want you to do: go to My brothers and tell them that I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.”

The next thing she knew, Mary’s feet were once again carrying her back toward the city.  This time, instead of grief, joy filled her—her heart, her mind, her very soul.  She had seen the Master and she had a message for His people.  She would be the first to testify that Jesus lived.  He lived!  The words rattled in her head all the way back to the upper room.

Mary had experienced love—Calvary love.  The Master had loved her to death, and because He had, could give her life.  Because He lived, she lived.  He had given her a taste of the joy of His kingdom.

Breathlessly, she pounded on the door.  She had a message for the Master’s followers, both for those in the upper room, and for all who would come after.

Follow the “I Was There” Series

Ron Hughes

You can listen to podcasts from Ron’s shows by clicking on the following links:

Author Interview

Faith By Hearing: Misconceptions 

Faith By Hearing – Mark

The Mighty Pen

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Images Courtesy of:

What Jesus Saw From The Cross – James Tissot

Don’t Touch Me – Tizian

Resurrection of Jesus – Hans Memling

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