A Dead Man Walks

A Dead Man Walks

Charles MartinBy Charles Martin8 Minutes

Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. When she stooped to walk in, the angels had returned. She tries to flag down Peter and John but it’s too late. They ask her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” The unspoken impression being, We already told you He’s not here. Unable to make sense of any of this, she cries, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” It’s almost comical how Mary still blames the soldiers while speaking with beings who look like bolts of lightning dressed in snow. But notice her beautiful words: my Lord. She doesn’t say rabbi, teacher, prophet, or friend.

Even now, Mary’s proclamation is that Jesus is Lord. An amazing declaration given that nothing in her circumstances agrees with her. Mary turns and bumps into the gardener. Finally, someone normal she can speak to. His voice is calm. Soothing. Like water. “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Controlling both her anger and her grief, she says, “Sir”— and points at the tomb. Her finger is shaking. Tears and snot are pouring off her face. “If you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

Then, in what is certainly the single greatest moment in Mary’s life, the man cracks a smile. He speaks, and Jesus uncloaks His divinity. “Mary!”

And in that single word, the voice and person of Jesus has returned.

He is alive!

Every time I read this, I am amazed that Jesus returned first not to his buddies, but to a brokenhearted woman whom He had delivered from demonic torment. Why? I think it’s pretty simple. Because he knew her pain was killing her. That her broken heart mattered to Him a lot. And because He knew she was worried about the seven returning with their friends and what hell that spelled for the rest of her life. She questioned the permanence of her deliverance, she was probably worried sick about it, and He just couldn’t stand that — not in her, and not in us.

Mary reaches out and touches His face. Her fingers read His smile.

Mary screams, “Rabboni!” and launches herself airborne, catching Jesus across the chest. Wrapping arms and legs around Him. Smothering his neck in kisses. Some have suggested a romantic connection between Jesus and Mary. I am not. That’s total hogwash. Or in biblical terms, scubalon.

Jesus was without sin. Period. I am simply suggesting, whether rightly or wrongly I do not know, that if I saw a man die the death Jesus had died, and then bumped into Him outside His grave three days later looking like the local gardener, my reaction would not be subdued. Or casual. I would not mind my manners. Wouldn’t bow slightly or curtsy. Or even genuflect. I’d come unglued. Shot out of a cannon. Zero to spider monkey in less than a second. I’d launch myself through the air, sink my face into his neck where I could smell Him and kiss him a thousand times over.

I’d lose my ever-loving mind.

And so, does Mary. Why? Well, lots of reasons but one of them has something to do with the fact that if He is alive, then that must mean that everything He ever said is true. Forever. And if His words are true, then she is delivered. Forever. She’s free.

Jesus catches her and laughs. Certainly, the most beautiful laugh in the history of laughter. He, too, is excited to see her. He’s missed her. He knows she’s been hurting. They all have. He can’t wait to see them. It’s why He stopped off here en route to His Father. And He would have gotten here sooner but had to take care of a few things first. He sets her down.

“Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”

Hold it. Hold it. Hold it. Stop right here.

I don’t want to skip over this too quickly. This is a dead man speaking. But, by definition, dead people don’t speak. Because they’re dead. Which must mean this particular dead man is no longer dead. And make no mistake about it: He was. She saw it. They all did. With their own eyes. Mary had watched Him pray the prayer of a dying man, Psalm 31:5: Father, “into Your hand I commit my spirit.”

Then she watched Him push up on His nail-pierced hands and do just that. She witnessed the soldier’s spear pierce His chest and heard the sound of blood and water flowing and splattering. She had helped take Him down off the cross. Had she been the one to close His eyes? Someone did. She had worked hastily to prepare Him, but they didn’t have time. While the soldiers had yelled at her from the doorway and told her to hurry up, she had spilled tears on His, cold, dead, rigor mortis-stiff, blue-lipped, blood-caked, ashen body.

Mary saw Jesus doornail dead.

But now He’s not. Jesus is alive. Speaking. And Mary knows it. She just heard His voice. Saw the light in His eyes. Felt the warmth of His skin.

Pause. Like really. Close this book. Close your eyes. See this for what it is. Let the image settle. Mary Magdalene has just bumped into Jesus and the impossible has happened. He spoke to her. She felt His breath on her face.

This changes everything. About everything.

For everyone who would believe it. Forever.

Taken from They Turned the World Upside Down by Charles Martin. Copyright ©2020 by Charles Martin. Used by permission of Nelson Publishing, an imprint of Thomas Nelson. www.thomasnelson.com

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