This was originally written for Easter, but I wanted to share my first piece of Biblical fiction! It was based on the passage in John where Mary Magdalene finds Jesus’s tomb empty. It’s longer than the 500 words (about 1000 words) that I’ve been keeping most of my other flash fiction to. I hope you all enjoy!
John 20:11-6 ESV
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
The stone under Mary’s fingers felt cold and uninviting. The rough and sometimes jagged rock gave her goosebumps, the hair on her arms standing up as her fingers explored the harsh environment. Cold seemed to seep from the walls, causing a shiver to run down her spine.
This is where He had lain. His final resting place, but now it was empty. The stone in front of the cave had been rolled away and now all that was inside were a few rags.
Tears were already streaming down her face and she sank to the ground inside of the tomb of Jesus. The ground was colder than the wall had been, a heavy chill settling into her bones.
“It’s so cold.” Mary Magdalene whispered to herself. “We deserve this kind of a resting place. Cold, dark, and harsh. This is where we all should be; but not Him. Not Jesus. And now they’ve taken him!”
She began to weep. It felt as though the sorrow of how He had been treated, even after the amazing and wondrous things He had done for them, would push her into the ground. She sunk further into herself; the weight of how the world, her own fellow men and women, had killed her Lord only making her cry harder.
“We deserve a resting place such as this, but not my Lord. Not Jesus.” She said again, her words drowning in the flood of tears. Coughing and shaking, Mary sobbed on the floor of the tomb, her arms wrapped around herself, the only comfort that she had.
A movement out of the corner of her eye made her sit up, furiously swiping at the tears still cascading down her face. Terrified that someone had come to deface her Lord’s tomb, Mary stumbled to her feet, ready to tell whoever it was to leave. Instead, she found herself looking at two men, shrouded in luminescent robes.
Mary blinked, trying to make out the men’s faces, but the radiance of their clothes made it hard to focus on them. She looked around the tomb, trying to gauge where they had come from, but she saw no one else, nor any hint of how they had arrived. Dimly, she noted that they were sitting where Jesus’s body had lain only a few hours ago. One sat where His head had been, the other where His feet.
“Woman, why are you weeping?” One of the men said, his voice was so pure that it felt like Mary’s head was vibrating with the tenors of his voice.
Mary gaped at him, trying to comprehend what was happening. Tears were still flowing down her cheeks as if her body was still mourning even though her mind was now occupied with these men. Blinking again, she tried to summon up words, anything to answer the angelic figures.
As the realization that she was now looking at angels from the Lord began to settle in, the other man spoke, “Woman, why are you weeping?” His words echoing the first man’s. This voice was just as clear and pure as the first, commanding clarity into Mary’s mind.
“They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” She said, her voice tremulous.
One of the angels, as Mary now knew them to be, smiled then. The ease of the smile made Mary’s heart beat faster and her tears begin again. Shaking, she opened her mouth, wanting to ask why they were smiling at her, what was the joke?
Something moved behind her and Mary spun around, looking out of the tomb into the small garden. Someone was walking towards her, but Mary couldn’t tell who it was through her tears and confusion.
“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” For a moment, Mary thought that this was another angel, as the question was the same that the angels had just asked her, but she could hear that this was a man’s voice.
Perhaps he’s a gardener, Mary thought. Did he take Jesus’s body?
Taking a step out of the tomb, away from the angels, Mary cried, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Her voice broke, the pleading note compelling her to look into the face of the newcomer. Tears still distorted her sight and she wiped at her eyes again.
The voice was one she knew. Mary’s heart leapt, causing her to stumble and come to a stop, rooted to the ground with fear and excitement. As if her name had woken a part of her from sleep, the tears stopped, and her breathing calmed. Looking up, she stared into Jesus’s face. It was the most glorious sight she’d ever seen.
“Rabboni,” she breathed, still rooted to the spot, unable to move for fear that it was all a dream.
But He smiled at her, and it was enough to convince her that it was the truth. He had risen and He was standing in front of her. Whole and alive. A hope that she hadn’t known she was capable of feeling rose within her, crowding out the doubt, fear, and anxiety. Here was her Messiah, the Savior they’d all been waiting for. He had fulfilled the law as He said He would. The tomb was empty, and He had risen.