Jesus and Mary Magdalene
by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut
All THE FOUR gospels agree in saying that the first person who saw Jesus Christ living after his death on the cross was Mary Magdalene; that is, Mary of Magdala, a town on the Sea of Galilee; a woman from whom a year before Jesus had driven out evil spirits; and who in love for what Jesus had done to her, followed him, and helped him with her gifts, for she was a rich woman.
When the other women, with Peter and John, went away from the tomb, Mary stayed there, weeping and sobbing; for she had not seen the angel who said that Jesus had risen, and did not know that he was alive.
As she stood weeping at the door of the tomb, she looked inside. There she saw two angels sitting at the empty grave-place, one at the head, the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying.
"Woman," said one of the angels, "why are you weeping?"
"Because they have taken away my Lord," answered Mary, "and I do not know where they have laid him."
Just then something caused her to turn around, and she saw a man standing near her. It was Jesus, but she did not know him; for after rising from his grave Jesus showed himself in differing forms, and people could not know him until he allowed them.
"Woman," said Jesus to her, "why are you weeping? Who is it that you are looking for?"
Mary thought that this strange man was the gardener. She said to him:
"Oh, sir, if you have carried him anywhere, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away myself."
"Mary!" said Jesus.
And as he spoke her name, she knew him; and fell at his feet, clasping them in her hands.
"My own Master!" was all that she could say, in her joy at seeing him alive once more, whom she had last looked upon dead, hanging on the cross.
"Do not hold me," said Jesus, "for I have yet to arise and go to my Father in heaven; but go to my brothers, my disciples, and tell them that I shall soon rise up from the earth and go to my Father and your Father, to my God, and your God."
Mary Magdalene went and found the disciples, and said to them, "I have seen the Lord!" telling them also what he had said to her.
After Mary Magdalene had gone away from the tomb, the other women--Mary the wife of Clopas, Joanna, and Salome--came back from having seen the disciples, and having told them what the angel had said, that Jesus had risen. As they drew near the tomb, Jesus went to meet them.
"Welcome!" he said to the women. They ran up to him, fell on their faces, and clasped his feet, just as Mary had done, for they felt joy and fear mingled as they saw him.
"Do not be afraid," said Jesus, "go tell my brothers to go to Galilee and they shall see me there."
So these women went again to find the disciples and give them the news that Jesus was really living, and that they had seen him. All this was on Sunday morning--the first Easter-day.
On that morning, when the soldiers who had fled from the tomb recovered from their terror, they went to the chief priests and told them about the earthquake and the angel who had rolled away the stone.
The priests had a talk with the rulers of the city; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and told them to say to everybody:
"The disciples came at night, while we were asleep, and broke open the tomb, and stole the body of Jesus."
They knew that a soldier had no right to sleep while on guard; and the rule of the army was, that any soldier who slept on his post should be put to death. But the rulers said to them:
"If the governor hears about this, we will satisfy him, and see that no harm comes to you."
So the soldiers took their money and did as they were told.
And the story that the body of Jesus was stolen from the tomb, was told among the Jewish people and believed by them.