Mary Magdalen : the love that overcomes all


Relics of Mary Magdalene in Vezelay Basilica , Burgundy, France


Relics of Mary Magdalene in Vezelay Basilica , Burgundy, France

‘It was always the custom in Palestine to visit the tomb of a loved one for three days after the body has been laid in the tomb. They believed that for three days the spirit of the dead person hovered and waited around the tomb; and that only after that did the spirit depart, for the body had by then become unrecognisable through decay. Jesus’ friends could not come to the tomb on the Sabbath, because to make the journey on the Sabbath day would have been to break the law. Sabbath is our Saturday, so it was on Sunday morning that Mary first came to the tomb. She came very early… It was still grey dark when Mary came because she could no longer stay away. When she came to the tomb she was shocked and amazed… In front of the opening there ran a groove in the ground; and in the groove there ran a stone, circular like a cartwheel; and the stone was wheeled into position to form a door. Further, Matthew tells us that the authorities had actually sealed the stone to make sure that no one would move it (Matthew 27: 66). Mary was astonished to find the stone removed. Two things must have entered her mind. She may have thought that the Jews have taken away Jesus’ body; that, not satisfied with killing him on a cross, they were inflicting further indignities on His dead body. But also one of the grimmest features of ancient crime was that there were ghoulish creatures who made it their business to rob tombs and Mary may have thought that the tomb had been broken into and the body of Jesus desecrated.

This was a situation that Mary thought that she could not face herself so she returned to the city to seek out Peter and John. Mary is the great example of bewildered love; Mary is the supreme instance of one who went on loving and believing even when she could not understand; and that indeed is the love and the belief  which in the end finds its glory’.

William Barclay : The Daily Study Bible : The Gospel of John Volume 2 pages 308/309

The crypt of Vezelay Basilica

Vezelay Basilica, Burgundy, France

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