When Jesus began His ministry in Galilee, many knew in their hearts that He was the Messiah that God had promised and they left everything to follow Him. Among those followers, were "some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others." (Luke 8:2-3)
In a day and age when women were thought of as property and treated like cattle, Jesus had shown them love and compassion and had given them physical healing. In response to that, these women, like His twelve apostles, dropped everything to follow Him. All along the way from Galilee to Jerusalem, Jesus offered them hope. Hope for a better life, hope for a New Kingdom, hope for redemption from sin, hope for the Christ of God.
However, with the crucifixion, their hope turned to despair. The gospel of Luke tells us that when Jesus died on the cross, darkness came over the whole land and that the women who had come with Him from Galilee "stood at a distance, watching these things". (Luke 23:49)
Their hope was gone. He who had healed them and cast out demons from their bodies was gone. He whom they had witness heal others and raise people from the dead was dead Himself. The darkness that had come over the whole land had surely overwhelmed their hearts as well.
Just imagine how their grief must have been compounded when "On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb" and found it empty. (Luke 24:1-3)
Jesus had already explained His death and resurrection to them, but in the mist of their despair, they lost sight of His words. In Luke 24:7, the angels they found at the empty tomb reminded them that Jesus had said, "The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again." In verse 8 it says, "Then they remembered his words."
Does the same thing not happen to us? How many times have we read Godís promises to provide, forgive and protect? How many times have we read that God gives us power from the Holy Spirit, strength and spiritual gifts to do the tasks Heís called us to do? How many times have we read that God hears our prayers and gives us peace through trials?
Yet how many times do we need reminded of these very things?
The books of Prophesy that we have neatly typed, footnoted and cross referenced in our Bibles are the same books of prophecy that had been passed down from Jewish generation to Jewish generation hundreds of years before these women walked into that graveyard.
When Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others went to His tomb early that Sunday morning, the first Easter Sunday, they went out of respect and obedience to their Jewish traditions. When they walked through that garden, they made themselves available to receive the hope Jesus had to offer. If these women had not risen early that morning and had not made their way to the tomb, the truth of the resurrection would still be Ė but they would not have PERSONALLY received the hope Jesus had to offer.
Jesus has hope to offer us as well today. His words are true; these scriptures have been here for centuries. Godís promises are ours to claim.
We need to know what God's Word says. How will we know Godís promises if we donít read them for ourselves? The women that had followed Jesus had heard of the messianic prophecies and when they were reminded, the remembered. If we read the Word now, in times of trial and personal despair, we can be reminded of His Word and be available to receive this hope.
We need to be in the right place. The women we've read about were also in the right place. After the horrible persecution and death that they had witnessed, they very easily could have turned their backs on Jesus. Yet, because they chose to show Jesus the proper burial that He deserved, they were in the right place to receive His hope.
The right place for us is in worship at church, in Christian fellowship for encouragement, in Bible Studies and Sunday school classes to learn Godís Word. The right place for us is to be IN Godís Word everyday.
We also need to recognize Jesus when we see Him. John 20:13-18 describes Jesus' appearance to Mary Magdalene after the resurrection. In this text, Mary didnít recognize Jesus at first. She wasnít expecting Him. We can learn from Mary to look for Jesus in our deepest despair. God cares about you. Look closely at your life. Think of all the blessings and gifts Heís given you! Take one day and try to notice all the ways God works in that day. Look for Him. Heís there.
When you see God in your life, when you see the hand of Christ turning tragedy into victory, turning despair into hope, do what Jesus told Mary to do in John 20:17, go and tell. Share the hope youíve been given to give hope to others.
2004 Copyright, Lisa Beaman