By Amanda Pizzolatto (Rated G)
Mary barely slept that night; she didn’t want to miss the sun’s first light as it came over the horizon. She and a couple of other women, both named Mary as well, were going to anoint the body of their dead Master with myrrh and other sweet spices to keep it from smelling. They had not had time to do it at the time of his death for no sooner had he been buried than the Sabbath had begun. As such, they had to wait until the Sabbath was over before attempting to take care of their Master’s body properly. His mother, a virtuous woman also named Mary, would not be joining them. They could see how devastated she had been by being a witness to His death and the women had no desire to pain her further by having her see her Son’s dead body all over again. Sure, Mary Magdalene herself had been there too when He died, but the look on His mother’s face showed all that she was carrying a pain so intense that no amount of crying or comforting could ease it.
Mary heaved a sorrowful sigh as she rose. She might as well get up; there would be no more sleep for her that night. As she dressed, she pondered over the name Mary, as several of the women who followed Him bore that name, His mother included. It meant bitter, like the life He led and the death He underwent, the pains His mother no doubt was reeling from after laying her Son in the sepulcher. Tears streamed down Mary’s face as she recalled the heartbreaking moment when His mother glanced at the tomb with a look drenched with pain and sorrow. Mary quickly dried her tears and took a few breaths to calm herself down before grabbing the spices and walking out the door.
“Couldn’t sleep either?” asked a female voice. It was the other Mary, the mother of James, one of the close friends of Jesus.
Mary shook her head, “You couldn’t either?”
James’ mother shook her head, “No, should we head out now?”
“It’s probably best, let’s go get Salome.” Mary nodded as the two walked off to gather the third member of their party. Salome was a nickname for the third Mary in their group, as it helped to differentiate between them. The two approached a door on the second floor and knocked softly. They waited a few minutes before knocking again, this time, a little more loudly. The door was finally opened by a middle-aged woman.
“Sorry, it took me a little while to find my clothes in the dark,” explained Salome.
“We couldn’t sleep, so we thought we’d head out now,” explained Mary.
Salome nodded, “I couldn’t either. Do you have the myrrh?”
Mary nodded as she held up a jar, “Right here.”
“Good, well, if we’re all set, let’s go.” The three stole out of the building and out into the streets. No one else was up that early, as they didn’t run into anybody on their way to the sepulcher. Though there was little chance that they would wake anyone up, they still walked stealthily through the town, each to her own thoughts. It was the mother of James who first brought it up as they neared the sepulcher.
“Didn’t they roll a stone in front of the sepulcher?”
Mary’s eyes widened. “Yes, yes, they did. Oh no, how are we to get in?”
“And didn’t they post soldiers to guard the sepulcher?”
Salome glanced at them. “Do you think they’d be kind enough to roll the stone back for us?”
Mary sighed. “I guess we’ll find out.”
“But if they won’t, who could we get at this early hour? I don’t want to wake James, or any of the others,” pointed out James’ mother.
Mary let out a groan, and a sigh. “I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Perhaps God will provide us with a solution. This is for His Son, after all.”
“We can only hope.”
“In the meantime, let’s be reasonable,” pointed out Salome. “Who will roll back the stone for us?”
“We’ll see if the soldiers will do it for us when we get there, if not, I guess we’ll just have to wake some of our friends.”
James’ mother sighed. “I guess that’s going to have to be the best we can do, then. Come on, we’re almost there.”
“We should probably let the soldiers know we’re coming,” pointed out Salome as they got closer to their destination.
“That would be a good idea.,” began James’ mother.
“Hello! Soldiers by the sepulcher! We’re coming to properly take care of our Master’s body!” shouted Mary.
“Did you have to be so loud?” said Salome with a wince.
“Well, you wanted to let them know we were coming,” said James’ mother with a shrug. Salome merely groaned. Mary didn’t pay any attention to them. Now that she was nearing the sepulcher, she was beginning to have doubts as to coming. It might have been too soon for her to see His body again. But it was too late now; they had come this far. She glanced up, they were just about to round the corner which would take them to the sepulcher. She let out a shaky breath, and went around the corner. But the three paused, the stone was rolled away and the guards were gone! Instead, a handsome man was sitting on one of the rocks at the opening.
“Do not be afraid, I will not harm you,” he told them in a pleasant voice.
“Wh-why is the stone rolled back?” asked Mary.
“We’re here to anoint the body of our Master,” stated Salome.
“He is not here, He is risen,” the young man replied.
“What?” exclaimed the three women.
“Go, tell the others, He is risen and will be among you again shortly.”
The young man smiled, “Yes, look, His body is not here.” The women peered into the sepulcher. The young man was telling the truth, Jesus’ body was not there.
“Now go,” he said, “tell the others.” Mary paused, how could this be? But the other two had already taken off, and Mary ran to keep up with them. No matter what, she had to get to Peter and John. The three raced through the town, meeting a few other women along the way to whom both James’ mother and Salome quickly told what had happened. The other women joined them on their way back to the building where the others were staying. Everyone was just getting up, and there was a bustle in the building as everyone prepared for their day. The women burst on the scene, exclaiming all that was seen and heard at the sepulcher, even those who had not been there. All listened with rapture, but Mary sought Peter and John immediately.
“Why, Mary, what is it?” Peter asked with concern.
“The Master’s body is gone!” she blurted.
“What?” asked John, a hint of worry etching his young face.
“We went to anoint the body, and He, He isn’t there!” The two men immediately jumped up and ran out, Mary not far behind them. The two men reached the sepulcher in a matter of minutes, but when Mary arrived, she realized not only was her Master’s body gone, but so was the young man who sat there earlier that morning. Both Peter and John had walked into the sepulcher and paused as they glanced at the spot where Jesus had been laid, but was no longer there. Mary could only glance into the sepulcher, she had no desire to enter. Her eyes were already beginning to tear up at the prospect of Jesus’ disappearance. What would His Mother say? How would she react? Peter and John left the cave in a frantic state. As Mary glanced back into the sepulcher, she noticed two figures sitting in the spot where Jesus was supposed to be laying, one where His head should have been and the other where His feet should have been.
“Woman, why are you weeping?” they asked in perfect unison.
“They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him,” she replied as she turned to leave. As she turned, she saw a man facing her. She sniffed, why was the gardener there? Unless . . . unless he had something to do with her Lord’s missing body!
“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”
“Sir, if you have taken Him somewhere else, tell me where He is and I will take Him away,” she replied.
“Mary!” She paused at the sound of her name and glanced at the gardener with wonder. How did he know her name? She looked at him closely as realization dawned on her.
“Rabbouni!!” she called out joyously and rushed to embrace Him.
“No, Mary, not now, I have not yet ascended to My Father, but I will soon. Go, tell the others that I will ascend to My Father and your Father, to My God and yours.”
“Oh yes, my Lord! Oh what joy! And your Mother . . .”
Jesus smiled, “I have already been to her. Now go, tell the others what I have told you.”
“Of course!” Mary smiled as she dashed off. She glanced back once before rounding the corner, but Jesus was already gone, no doubt off to let others know that He was back. As Mary raced through the town back to where everyone was gathering for breakfast, she had to laugh. She was so filled with joy, how could she not! As the angel had said, for now she finally understood that the three figures she had seen were angels, He is risen. Halleluiah!