It was a sunny day… and I hated it. It felt so… wrong. Why is it when someone you love dies, you feel like the entire planet should be in mourning, including the sun? It seems so strange that everyone else is going on with life as usual when the bottom has dropped out of your entire world. It made me want to clench my fists and scream, “Don’t you understand what’s happened? Don’t you get it? STOP!”
But life doesn’t work that way. One life fades away, another is born. The cycle continues and even though the remnants of life as I knew it were shattered and laying at my feet like shards of broken glass, for many it was just another day.
My head was throbbing from days of crying. The churning in my stomach refused to subside. The image of his broken and lifeless body hanging there would be forever etched in my mind. I just know I will never get over it.
I had been the first to realize something was terribly wrong. I’d gone to the tomb and found the massive stone rolled away, and not a guard in sight. I panicked. Anger rose up in me so sharp that I could taste it in my mouth. I felt myself flush as my cheeks filled with the heat of indignation and contempt for the religious leaders and the Romans. I suspected immediately that his body had been stolen. I couldn’t fathom the reasoning behind it. They’d already killed him… what more could they possibly want from him?
I knew the men were all grieving together. I ran to the place where they had gathered and breathlessly told them what I had found. I told them I didn’t know who exactly, or how, or when… but someone had stolen the body of our beloved Jesus from that tomb.
I don’t think they believed me (I wasn’t surprised), because they raced for the tomb to see for themselves. Peter and John nearly tripped over each other on their way down the path, but John eventually took the lead and beat us all there. He peeked into the tomb and found the linen cloths lying there, just as I’d said.
Peter — ever the impetuous one — nudged past John and actually entered the cave. He found not just the linen cloths, but the handkerchief as well…. folded neatly and placed aside all by itself.
The adrenaline of the discovery quickly gave way to sadness. John’s shoulders fell and his head hung low. He stood there making circles in the dirt with his toe. Peter heaved a big sigh and slowly walked back to the mouth of the tomb. The men turned and left to go find the others.
I was crushed. Why weren’t they doing something? Why didn’t they put together a search party or send someone to spy and try to figure out where they had taken our Lord?
All of the strength drained out of me and with a loud cry I sank to my knees in front of the tomb. Sobs wracked my body as I completely fell apart. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. He was supposed to be King… Messiah… our Savior! Instead we’d been left alone to fend for ourselves. The fact that we didn’t even have his body to mourn over made it that much worse.
Suddenly I saw two men in white inside the tomb. They were sitting, one at the head of the slab on which Jesus had lain, the other at the foot of it. They asked me, “Woman… why are you weeping?”
Are you kidding me? “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve laid Him!”
Frustrated, I spun around on my heel and began to go, but I nearly bumped into a man I assumed to be the gardener. He repeated the question of the men inside the tomb… “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
Now there’s a question. I had spent my entire life seeking. Seeking approval, yes… but honestly, I was so desperate I would have settled for acceptance. That need to be recognized and received had led me to make so many foolish decisions. What I wanted more than anything was respect, and yet the choices I had made in my life had brought me nothing but shame and humiliation. Until I met HIM.
He was different. When I passed other men on the street they either averted their gaze or cast learing glances my way. But Jesus… He looked into my eyes and straight through to my soul. The love in His look was unlike anything I had experienced before. There was no glaring… no inuendo or subtle suggestion… no judging or condemnation. No. Instead He offered pure love and forgiveness. He gave me faith to believe that my life didn’t have to be a hopeless wreck. He made me realize that I was worthy, not because of anything I had done, but simply because of His love.
He was the one man who had ever given me anything, and they killed him. I begged of the gardener, “Sir… if you have carried Him away, please just tell me where you’ve laid him. I’ll take Him away!”
That’s all it took. I knew in that moment that it was my Lord standing before me and my heart burst with joy. All of my fears and failures melted away. The past was nothing but a dim memory, and the future was too incredible for me to fathom…. because let me tell you something, friends… when Jesus’ calls your name? That changes absolutely EVERYTHING.
This is my fictionalized account of John 20:1-16. The first time I really studied this passage, I was blown away by what I’ve tried to incorporate into that last paragraph. I love that Mary was standing there, face to face with the Lord, and couldn’t see what was right before her eyes… but that the moment He called her name, she knew. She KNEW.
I think the reason this touches me so deeply is that it’s my story as well. I grew up as a preacher’s kid… and had the gospel right in front of me my entire life, and yet still I was seeking. I made many of the same choices I imagine Mary made, all in an effort to be noticed… to be loved. But then a day came that I was face to face with JESUS, and He called my name. “Heather!” The sound of His voice, speaking my name… it changed EVERYTHING.
Listen. Can you hear it? He’s calling for you.