If we compare all the lists of women who traveled a few months with Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem, six are listed by name. They are Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus (and His brothers James and Joseph), Salome wife of Zebedee, Mary wife of Clopas, Chuza, Susanna and others. I think Mary Magdalene is often listed first because she was the most outspoken. Yet, Mary, the mother of Jesus, held the highest rank among them.
Throughout the days leading up to His crucifixion, in addition to financially supporting Him, they silently followed Jesus with eyes and ears open searching for ways they could serve Him.
On Palm Sunday, after seeing her son live in 33 years of relative obscurity, she must have rejoiced loudly with the crowds shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” It was about time He received praises.
When He cleared the moneychangers out of the temple quoting, “My house shall be a called a House of prayer for all the nations,” did Mary have a flashback of young Jesus? When he was 12 they celebrated Passover in Jerusalem. After searching three days for Him, they finally found Him in the temple. He calmly asked, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Others may have been shocked by His actions, but Mary knew Jesus’ highest allegiance was to His Father, His Father’s House and advancing His Father’s kingdom.
Unlike the others, each time Jesus spoke of His pending death, Mary would have remembered.
We don’t know if she and the other women witnessed the last supper, and garden arrest. We don’t know at what point on Friday they joined the swelling crowd in front of the Praetorium. Helplessly she could feel the anger seething all around them. Did her heart leap when Pilate proposed releasing Jesus or Barabbas? Did she and all the women shout for the release of Jesus only to hear the deafening roar demanding Barabbas’ release?
As each new piece of the story unfolded, it got worse and worse. The horrific climax came at noon on Calvary as Jesus was nailed to the cross. She deeply loved Him and felt His pain. How much of it could she bear to watch? Each time He gasped out a phrase, she listened intently. When He looked down and gave her into John’s care, her heart felt a slice of relief in the midst of drowning grief.
(For some reason, during the crucifixion, the synoptic gospel writers refer to Jesus’ Mother as Mary the mother of James and Joseph or the other Mary. Since John continues to name her as Jesus’ mother, so will I.)
Friday night, could she sleep, or were her dreams full of the horrors she had seen? If she got up did she stare out at the full moon pondering the purpose of it all. Why did it have to be so tragic? After resting all day Saturday, did they go to bed early so they could leave before sunrise?
It was still dark when they stepped out into the street clutching their spices. They silently rushed toward the tomb, hoping to pass unseen. When the earthquake shook the ground, they still rushed forward to the tomb.
When they arrived, the dawning sun lit up the garden revealing the stone rolled aside from the mouth of the tomb. As they entered the tomb, an angel said, “He is not here, He has risen. Go and tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you into Galilee.”
They rushed back to the disciples with their amazing news! Sadly they refused to believe the women.
Then on the way, Jesus met His mother and Mary Magdalene. He smiled and said, “Rejoice!” They knelt down at His feet worshiping Him. Did Mary grasp His feet like she would never let go? How long did it take for her shocked emotions to catch up with the reality standing in front of her?
Because of their servant’s hearts, deep devotion and faith, they had the honor of greeting Him first. Again they became His messengers to the disbelieving disciples.
In less than 48 hours, Mary went from the depths of emotional horror, to the heights of bliss! During the dark hours after His death, did she remember the words of Simeon? “This child is appointed for the rise and fall of many in Israel and for a sign to be opposed—And a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Yes, the sword pierced her soul, but gratefully, she was on the other side and her wound had healed. Her Son paid for the sin of mankind. His blood even paid for her.
He is risen indeed!