The very first Easter morning was unique to all that have come since in that it dawned in apparent defeat. Have you ever thought about that? The Resurrection had happened, but nobody knew it! The family and followers of Jesus awoke in grief, unaware of the glorious victory and power that had changed everything. They might have missed the miracle, if not for the faithfulness of Mary, Mary and Salome.
These three women, who had followed and served Jesus daily, woke up in despair. He was gone. They had seen Him beaten, nailed to a cross, ridiculed and confirmed dead. Because of strict Sabbath rules, He’d been buried quickly. There hadn’t been time to properly embalm His body with the customary spices. But the Sabbath was over, and they would be able to do this one last thing for the One to whom they’d been devoted. So, they got up and prepared to do what they’d done every day – serve Jesus.
“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’ But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”’Mark 16:1-7
Remember, three days had passed since Jesus’ death. Earlier in Jesus’ ministry, a friend of His, named Lazarus, had died. Jesus planned to bring Him back to life and asked that his tomb be opened. The people hesitated at His request, and might have missed the miracle, because dead bodies decay quickly.
“‘Take away the stone,’ he said. ‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.’”John 11:39
This glimpse of unpleasant reality helps us to grasp the depth of what the women were about to do for Jesus. They got up early and headed out on their mission. They were not simply going to perform the ceremonial embalming of His body, they were going to see, feel, and smell death. They weren’t even sure how they were going to accomplish it, because the boulder that sealed the entrance to the tomb was much too big for them to move, but they were determined to try. And because of their faithful effort, they got to be the first to witness the everything-changing miracle of the Resurrection.
I wonder, would I have been as devoted? I mean, He was already dead and laid to rest. Would it really matter now if there were spices on Him or not? I might have chosen to stay in bed, wallowing in my loss. I might have chosen to eat junk food, cry, and have a pity party. I might have questioned God’s goodness. And you know what? I might have missed the miracle!
My friend, you and I woke up today, a couple thousand years later, in full knowledge of the reality of the Resurrection. We live our lives in light of its glorious victory and power. And yet… is Jesus our focus, or do our agendas overshadow Him? Are we looking for ways to serve Jesus or opportunities to make names for ourselves? Let’s encourage each other to be as faithful everyday as Mary, Mary and Salome, so we might not miss the miracles!
“By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.”1 Corinthians 6:14