‘When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, ‘this man truly was the Son of God’. Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and Joseph) and Salome. They had been followers of Jesus, and had cared for him while he was in Galilee.’ Mark 15: 39-41.
Today is a day to pause, the semicolon of the Christian year. I would be tempted to say the full stop, but of course for us there is no ending to this story; not that Mary Magdalene knew. Mary was one of those women that had been delivered from seven demons. Seven. Complete control and then complete freedom. As Jesus had ministered then she had followed, watching more and more of the kingdom of darkness be flooded by His light as He advanced. Mary was devoted, transformed, grateful and in love.
And then she stands at the foot of the cross and gazes up at Him, broken, shamed, rejected and maybe for that one moment in time abandoned. She stands in the darkness of Golgotha, not in her own darkness but in His. The light had gone out, the journey’s end.
Mary and the other women had cared for Jesus whilst He had been with them in Galilee; enjoying His company and maybe at times even taking it for granted? And this leads me to reflect today on how I serve Him who serves me, enjoy Him who enjoys me and love Him who’s love for me is greater than I could ever imagine. There are times in our lives when we stand at the foot of the cross and stare into darkness. Faced with the world there are times where we struggle to believe and many more where we struggle to understand. There are times where we too are stood deeply in the gap between what know He has done and what we see manifested in the world. The gap between Mary’s hope at her deliverance and the hopelessness of His death becomes our reality.
The bible doesn’t say how Mary Magdalene and the other women spent their time after His death, only that by the third day they were ready to buy spices to anoint His body. I have a sneaking suspicion that they cried a great deal, but maybe they also laughed as they remembered the happy times when they enjoyed the closeness of His company, the sound of His voice, His smell, manner, ways and the way that He had changed them.
Maybe for us today is a day to remember all of the times where we know He has been with us, working in us and loving through us. A day where we place in our storeroom the testimonies of faith, hope and love that will also see us through the darkness. Whatever despair Mary experienced at the foot of the cross, she was faithful to the end and was rewarded by being the first to meet the risen Christ at the dawn of His resurrection. She had not been wrong to find in her own freedom, the great hope for freedom of all men.