The sun was still hiding its face from Yerushalayim when Miryam began her journey to the Tomb.
She had barely slept last night. The events of the previous days would not leave her. She wanted to stay at the tomb two nights before, but the Roman guards had refused. She walked with an urgency, wiping a few stray tears from her cheeks, clinging to her bag of spices and herbs, holding them close to her chest. The strong and sweet scent stung her nose. She sniffed, stilling her thoughts. But a thought lingered, refusing to be captured.
“How could he die?”
She had seen him speak to dead men who were lost in Sheol for 4 days and watched them come back at the sound of his voice. She had seen him move in such power, such authority, such zeal, such love. She had seen him walk and disappear through crowds who had an intent to stone him yet he was arrested. How was this possible? Was he not the Messiah? Guilt pricked at her. How could she doubt now? After everything she had witnessed.
I should not be thinking these things. Not now
Her knees felt weak. She steadied them, refusing to crumble on the rocky dust road of the city. Briefly, a memory flashed before her.
Those pools of compassion that met her that in Magdala. Her Magdala. That city she had loved as a child as she followed her Abba to its fish market. Magdala, the city that had named her outcast, demon-possessed.
She remembered his eyes because she had avoided the look of disdain in the people’s eyes. But when he looked at her, she had seen a love so wide, so deep. He had looked at her and the world she knew had come crumbling down.
He was the only one who had stretched out his hand to help her. He saved her. He told those spirits that tormented her to leave and never return. He had given her a new life. A new birth. A new meaning to Magdala, the city she was redeemed. So she bore the name Miryam of Magdala because of Yeshua.
Now, this Man who had saved her was nailed to the cross like a common thief and she could do nothing. She caught a sob in her throat.
“How could he die?” The voice in her head whispered again. She stopped mid-stride holding back the grief in her heart.
Walking on, she remembered Shimon’s wounded eyes like one who had cried for hours. He had followed her Lord until they came to the High Priest’s court, he said. But he told no one why he had left. There was an evasiveness in his sulking shoulders, a guilt in his whispers to his wife, Rebekah. A guilt that most of the men who had been with Yeshua at Gethsemane carried in their eyes.
The news of Yeshua’s arrest had crippled her. She had been with the Lord’s Mother, Miryam when Yochanan came with the News. Miryam was inconsolable; she wanted to see her son. Yochanan was afraid to go but he took them to the place where her Lord hung. She did not know which cross he was on until Yochanan pointed it out. She remembered her wail when she saw his bruised body and the agony of his twisted form on that cross. She was not sure what she was expecting then, but she was not expecting him to die. She had willed him to come down from the Cross. She had wished for him to loose himself, so that all Israel could finally see that he was the Messiah. She had wished to hear him laugh again. To see his smile. But all she saw was a man dying. A man that was now Dead.
She stumbled on a few stones as she walked in the dark morning, with only an oil lamp to light her way.
“Yeshua…” she said, her voice trailing off into a sob.
“How could you die?” She said quietly, voicing her thoughts.
She could make out the outline of the tomb now. It was only a few feet away. As she approached, there was an eerie silence about the place. The Guards who had patrolled the tomb yesterday were absent.
“Chayal. Soldier,” she called out. But no answer came. An uneasy feeling sat within her. Something had happened. She knew even before she got to the mouth of the tomb.
The stone was rolled away. She held up her oil lamp, peering in.
Shock gripped her as she crumbled to the ground. Her bag and lamp falling with her. The tomb was empty! There was no body. The Romans must have taken the body.
Alarm rose within her.
Too afraid to go in for fear that a Roman soldier may be lurking around, she began to run. She ran hard and fast until she reached Yochanan’s house. The sky had broken, and the Sun had begun to reveal itself.
“Rebekah” she yelled, calling Shimon’s wife. She pounded on the door. Yochanan was the one who answered the door.
“Miryam? What’s the matter?” His eyes darted around quickly. She saw Shimon sitting at the table inside the house with Rebekah by his side. Yeshua’s mother must be sleeping, she thought. She prayed she had not woken her.
Coughing and spurting, she tried to catch her breath.
“They have taken Yeshua from the tomb”Painful sobs shook her body.
“They have taken him”, she wept.
At that, Shimon bolted out of the door as though the spell of gloom had broken off him. Yochanan followed running behind him. She started to run too. Her lungs burning. But she could not stop. She would not. She had to find her Lord.
Where had they put him?
Reaching the tomb again, Shimon and Yochanan were standing outside, conversing in low tones.
“Have you seen him?”
Shimon shook his head.
“Let’s go back, Miryam” Yochanan said, reaching for her.
“No!” She yelled, walking to the mouth of the tomb.
Yochanan called out to her.
“Leave her” Shimon said.
They left her alone at the tomb. She continued weeping.
“Where is my Lord?” she sobbed. Something caught her eye. She stooped into the tomb. Two men sat at the head and foot of the place her Lord had laid. There was something brilliant about them. Their white clothes shone brighter than the brightest Arum flower she had seen. Perhaps they were disciples. Many believed in Yeshua even those of the higher class.
“Please, where have you taken my Lord?” She hoped these men could tell her something useful.
“He is not here,” one said.
“Why do you look for the Living among the Dead?” the other said.
Not concerned with the parable they spoke, she turned away still sobbing bitterly.
“Woman, why are you crying?
She did not turn to the voice. Perhaps he was the Gardener, and he was concerned that she was out here alone and unaccompanied.
“They have taken my Lord and I don’t know where they put him”. The world blurred before her as her tears continued.
“Miryam!” The voice called again.
As soon as she heard his voice, hope leaped within her.
The vision before her was as real as the morning air. Her Lord was standing in the flesh. “Rabboni!” she exclaimed, reaching to embrace him.
“Miryam, don’t cling to me. I have not ascended to the Father yet.“
“Now, Go. Tell my Brothers I have risen as I said. I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God”
And then he smiled. Oh, how she longed for that smile.
In a wink, he was gone. In a blink of an eye.
“Rabboni,” she whispered.
“Rabboni!” she said louder now. She leaped up into the air as realization dawned on her. She twirled in excitement. A silly grin filled her face as she ran to Yochanan’s house.
They were more at the house when she returned. More so, it took them a full minute to calm her down as the joy within her overflowed in singing and dancing.
“Yeshua Qam! Yeshua is Risen!” she said.
“He is risen!”
She fell into a fit of laughter, ignoring the shocked and doubtful faces. She had seen her Lord, and he had smiled at her again. She had forgot the sorrow she carried minutes before. None of it mattered because this man she had believed in, was alive. Yeshua the Messiah had risen as he said.