I tell you, I’ve seen Him with my own eyes! I didn’t dream this whole thing up.
Here’s what happened.
Friday, just before the Sabbath, Joseph managed to get us the body before sundown. I think he spoke directly to Pilate. From what he told me, Pilate was glad to have Him off that cruel cross.
I had no idea what to do. I’d never buried a man before, but I knew we couldn’t leave Him out there. Thank the Lord for Joseph. He gave us his own tomb. It was a cave in the side of a hill not far from Golgotha, near the resting place of his ancestors. I remember how Jesus had called us all sisters and brothers, those of us who followed Him. I’m sorry, I’m babbling. Where was I?
Friday night we put Him in the tomb, but we didn’t have time to do it well. I wanted to adorn the horrid place so it looked like something other than just a hole in a rock. I wanted to wrap Him up. To be honest, I just wanted to see Him once more.
The sun was not up when I left the house. When I got to His grave, the predawn mist swirling about, I saw guards sitting beside the massive stone blocking the entrance to the tomb. The sight of it broke my heart afresh, and I began to weep again. I collapsed to the ground and buried my face in my apron.
It was then I felt the earth begin to shake. Another earthquake? As the earth stopped its rumble, I heard a commotion near the tomb. I looked up, and where the guards had been just moments before, there were two beings. Their brightness was greater than the brilliant sun which had just peeked over the eastern horizon. Not only that—the tomb was open. Someone had moved the boulder away from the mouth of the tomb.
I flashed back to last week when Jesus called Lazarus out of his burial cave. It took three men to move that stone, and it was much smaller than this one.
I ran to the mouth of the cave, tears still pouring down my face. The man on the right—an angel, I suppose—said to me:
“Woman, why do you weep?”
I could see the cave was empty. My mind was racing. Where were the guards? Had they moved the stone and taken the Lord with them? Where could they have gone? What was going on?
My sorrow now mixed with anger, fear, and confusion. I looked down at my hands; I still carried the fragrances I intended to use in the tomb. I held them up and somehow managed to speak.
“They took my Master,” I said, “and I don’t know where they put him.”
What was I going to do now?
I turned away from the tomb, head to the ground. Things kept getting worse. First they killed this wonderful man, and then they stole His body. Why? The tears just kept coming.
As I moved away from the tomb, I saw feet before me and heard a voice.
“Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?” He said.
Why is this gardener talking to me? Can’t he see I just want to grieve? There was a hint of anger in my voice when I replied.
“Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him.”
Even as I said it, I was replaying His voice in my mind. I knew that voice.
Then He said my name.
At that instant, the moment I heard Him say my name, it all left—the sorrow, the anger, the fear, the confusion. It rolled away, like the stone before His tomb. And like the death that tried to take Him away, these no longer had a hold on me.
I fell to my knees before Him and reached for His feet. I could see the nail holes in those beautiful feet. As I reached for Him, He said:
“Don’t cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.’”
I didn’t know what to say or do. I knew only this: He was alive!
I heard something behind me, and as I turned to see what was rustling, He vanished. Was I imagining it? Did I dream it? There is no way this was my imagination. The tomb was empty; and He had risen.
I headed back into town to tell the disciples. When I got there, the mood was the same as it had been for three days. Most of them were still in shock. I burst through the door and cried out to them, “He’s alive! He’s alive! He is alive!” Then I told them all about it. Before I finished telling my story, Peter and John were on their way.
It’s only been three days since the worst day I ever imagined. The glory of this new day—this first day—swallowed up all the horror and turned it into something beautiful, something wonderful. He is risen!
To read the original story, see Matthew 28:1-11, Mark 16:9-10,
and John 20:11-18.
The preceding is a chapter from my book Encounters with Jesus. You can pick your copy up at Amazon.com in paperback or for your Kindle. Forty stories that chronical the life of Jesus from the perspective of those he touched.