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Standing at the Empty Tomb

I’m trying to put myself into today’s Gospel scene with Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. But to be honest, I often battle discouragement. After the crushing blow of the crucifixion, under the weight of grief and disappointment, would I even go to Jesus’ tomb? Would I dare to believe that perhaps this wasn’t the end of the story, that Jesus’ promises would still prevail?

Today, as I stand at the empty tomb with the two Marys, in this beautiful Easter season of new hope and promise, I am filled with joy. But I also fight their same fears—to believe that Jesus is truly alive.

And just as Jesus spoke to them that morning, this is what He says to me today:

I want to meet you as the Risen Lord. Even in those places where I don’t experience His presence; when my hopes have been dashed by disappointment—when I am angry, sad, or lonely—I need to keep showing up and trusting, and be faithful to what I know is true. Because He is in those tomb-like places, not dead but alive, and waiting to reveal Himself to me and bring my heart back to life.

Worship me as the Risen Lord. It is so beautiful how the Marys, upon meeting Jesus, fall to the ground and worship Him. Their first response isn’t to fire questions at Jesus, but to prostrate themselves in adoration, and to humble themselves at His feet. (Matthew 28:9) I want to move from a posture of questioning, complaining, and analysis, to one of awe, humility, and worship.

Go and tell others I have risen. This is a call to action. Mary Magdalene who, like me, is a woman with a sinful past, is asked to be the bearer of a message that will change the world. The qualifications for this important task aren’t multiple theology degrees, spectacular speaking skills, or a successful ministry. I am sent because I too have met the Lord—I have seen and touched Him, I have heard His voice, and I know that He has risen from the dead.

Like these two Marys, may we cast aside our fears and embrace the Risen Lord with great joy. May we worship Him from the depths of our hearts, and boldly go out as faithful messengers of His Good News.

Debra Herbeck, a Jewish convert to the Church, has worked extensively in youth and women’s ministry. She has directed Pine Hills Girls Camp for the past 32 years, is the founder and Director of the Be Love Revolution, and also helps lead a ministry called i.d.916. She has written a number of books that can be found here. Debra and her husband Peter live in Ann Arbor, Michigan and are the parents of four children and five adorable grandchildren.

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