She still can’t believe he’s gone. The ache in her heart compels her once again to go to the grave. She knows he isn’t really there, but she finds her only comfort in the place where his body lay. She just wants to be near him.
She was among those who traveled with Him as He preached good news. (Luke 8:1-3)
She was with Him at the cross. (John 19:25)
She was at the tomb when He was buried. (Matthew 27:57-62)
And early in the morning, while it was still dark, she made her way back to His grave.
“Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.'”
She had come to be near Him, only to find Him gone.
“At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. ‘Woman,’ he said, ‘why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.'”
She saw Him, but in her grief and desperation, she did not “see” Him. She just wanted to know where He was, and was even willing to go get His body. Do you hear her desperation?
Her name was Mary Magdalene, and she followed Him with the devotion of one who knows what it is to be rescued from darkness. It is here, at the tomb, that we see the impact Jesus had on this woman. Once He had set her free, she no longer wanted to be without Him.
And with one word, one intimate word spoken by Jesus, her desperation was answered.
“Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.'”
In the deep place, where desperation resides, Mary was desperate for His presence. And in that moment when her desperation collided with the One she couldn’t “see”, He revealed His presence through the intimacy of calling her by name.
I am very fond of Mary Magdalene. While I have not been delivered of seven demons, I have been rescued from darkness. And like Mary, I am utterly devoted to my Deliverer. But so often I find myself unable to “see” Him, and I feel that same desperation for the presence of the One my heart loves. And then…He calls my name. Water for a thirsty, desperate heart.
We’ve stepped into the world of four desperate women who encountered Jesus. These women lived their desperation out loud. Many of us work so hard to keep ours silent. Too often, we are women who are strong and self-sufficient…keeping our desperation at bay, but barely. We are afraid to be desperate, believing it to be a sign of weakness. But in the Gospel, I make a wonderful discovery.
The world offers us many things to distract us from our desperation, and quiet that inner ache. And yet, desperate people are all around us, both outside and inside the Church.
Perhaps surprisingly, it is in the secret place that I have encountered Him most. Not at church. Not at a conference. Not in the right setting with the right lighting and the right worship song. I have encountered Him most when I have been alone with Him in His word, as the truth of His love and mercy washed my soul. In those times of silent prayer, when my lips had no words and I just had to trust He could hear my desperate heart…this is when I’ve heard Him call my name.