In the last few days, we have taken a closer look at the events leading up to the cross, we have seen those who betrayed and those who denied Jesus. But have you ever stopped to note those who stayed with Him even to the cross? Let us take some time as we reflect on Jesus choosing to go to the cross and all this means about who He is and now who we are in Him as believers.
In Luke, we are told “A large number of people followed Him, including women who mourned and wailed for Him,” (Luke 23:27) but what happened over time? In Luke 23:48-49 we see, “When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew Him, including the women who had followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things”.
Now where were the disciples you might be asking? There is suggestion in Luke that they watched from afar. They were after all part of the group who knew Him, so they had scattered after Jesus’ arrest and were now watching from a distance.
To me the group we ultimately need to focus on today is those who were closest to the cross.
In the Gospels we only see one exception of the disciples watching at a distance and that was John who stood close by to Jesus’ mother and the other women as accounted in John 19:25-27:
“Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to her, “Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother,’ from that time on this disciple took her into his home.”
We know that this disciple was John because he often referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved but this was not in a prideful manner, instead John was embracing as all of us ought that we are beloved by Jesus Christ Himself. There is no clearer picture in seeing this than what Christ did for all of us on the cross.
These were dark days for the disciples and the entire world, that is true enough for everyone was lost. Some of the women stayed and helped to see to Jesus’ burial. Then one came early on the first day of the week that we now celebrate as Easter. She would be the first to hear of this Good News!
Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb and sees the stone (that had been placed there with guards to ensure no one stole the body of Jesus) had been removed. She runs to Peter and John, telling them this news and they come to see it for themselves. Things seemed so grim. For their Lord had been taken from them yet again, or so they believed.
They leave, unsure exactly of what was happening, but Mary stays. She weeps outside the tomb. While looking inside she sees two angels who ask her why she is crying.
“They have taken my Lord away, and I do not know where they have put Him.” (John 20:13) Then turning around she sees someone she believes to be the gardener. He also asks her why she is crying and who she is seeking.
“Sir if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.” (John 20:15) Mary was willing to be arrested and killed (as she would have been had she been found with Jesus’ body if it had been taken) just to take care of Him.
Then He says her name, “Mary.’ She turned toward Him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ meaning teacher.” (John 20:16)
Mary (and other women noted by Luke in Luke 24:10) is the first not only to see Jesus alive but to be given the message to share with others. This was the first time someone told the Good News. Mary does as Jesus tells her and she races back to the others where she tells them all she had seen. That Jesus is in fact alive!
We have been given this triumphant news to share with a hopeless world that needs to hear it, will you go as Mary did? Will you tell others that He is in fact alive? That you have seen the Lord do miraculous things in your own life? Don’t wait. You are blessed with this message, do not keep it to yourself. This message is for the whole world.