“For behold the stone that I have laid
before Joshua; upon one stone
shall be seven eyes…”
In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, there came to the tomb of Jesus a woman named Mary Magdalene to see the sepulcher.. Cords of love were drawing this lady of grace to the tomb of her beloved Lord. Her eyes must rest once more upon the stone behind which tender hands had placed the kindest Person Mary had ever met. Jesus did not deserve to be crucified.
Mary Magdalene had been at the Cross. She had watched all the pain and sorrow. She had stayed behind when everyone else had gone (Matt. 27:57-61). Then darkness came. The Sabbath had to be observed. Finally, the Lord’s last follower left. She would return at the first possible moment. Now that moment had arrived.
As Mary made her way towards the sepulcher, her eyes were dried. All the tears had been shed that were possible. Still, her heart remained heavy for her mind was full of memories. Death tends to pull from the soul all the buried treasures of time, and Mary Magdalene remembered.
She remembered how much evil she once experienced before she met Jesus, for seven demons had taken up residence in her body. Once demons inhabit a body, they make existence a living hell. Reason gives way to raw emotion. Brute strength is demonstrated to ensure that the desires of the will are met. There is madness in the eyes.
Mary, called Magdalene, had seven demons raging in her tormented soul. Then one day in the Providence of God, as Jesus passed through the village in which Mary lived, the gospel was heard. Jesus preached and showed the glad tidings of the Kingdom of God. Turning specifically to Mary, the Lord had said in essence, “Come Mary. Come to the kingdom!” The demons in Mary’s soul raged. They did not want to leave. They were willing to fight for their possession. But the Kingdom of Light is greater than the Kingdom of Darkness. Jesus had come to make the captive free.
There was that glorious moment when Christ acted as the Sovereign Saviour and chose to free Mary Magdalene from her jailers. He came to make this sinner free. Is it any wonder that on the third day we find the eye of Mary Magdalene upon one stone? No other tomb held any attraction for her but the tomb of Jesus. As Mary Magdalene made her way to the place where they had put Jesus after taking Him down from the Cross, the Bible says she was not alone. She came with “the other Mary to the sepulchre” (Matt. 28:1).
The “other Mary” is identified in Mark 16:1 as the mother of James. Little is known about this lady except that she was one of the women who joined Jesus’ party in His tours of Galilee. She provided Christ with food and money in order to advance the proclamation of the Kingdom of God (Luke 8:2; Mark 15:41).
During the Lord’s life, this Mary too, had her eye on heaven. But in His death she set her eye upon one stone. And so it was that, like Mary Magdalene, this other Mary was frightened and surprised by the unexpected news, for the Bible teaches that as the two ladies came close to the tomb they were astonished to see that the stone of the tomb was rolled back from the door. And there was an angel present.
His countenance was like lightening. His raiment white as snow. The angel spoke unto the women saying, “Fear not, for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell His disciples.”
“Mary Magdalene, go quickly.”
“Mary, mother of James the Less, go quickly.”
“And Salome, you too go quickly, with JoAnna.”
Salome, who is spoken of in Mark 16:1, was from Galilee. She was the wife of Zebedee and the mother of James and John, two of the Twelve Apostles. She was surprised when her sons forsook the family business to become fishers of men. Salome wondered why. Then she listened to Christ and realized that here was the Son of the Living God. Like others, Salome did not at first fully understand the Lord’s message. There were spiritual truths that were lost to her materialist expectations.
One day, in a burst of selfish ambition she dared to ask seats of honor for her sons in the Kingdom. Later, Salome realized that the Kingdom of God was in the hearts of individuals. So she stood with others at the crucifixion of Christ. And, with others, she arose early one morning to go to the graveyard with her eye fixed upon one stone.
Then there was JoAnna (Luke 8:3; 24:10), the wife of Chuza, who was the superintendent of royal properties under Herod Antipas. Antipas was the immoral ruler of Galilee and Perea who had married Herodias, his brother’s wife. When John the Baptist thundered in righteous indignation against the marriage, Antipas had John imprisoned and later beheaded. The only person that Jesus ever called by the name of an animal was Herod Antipas. Jesus called him a fox.
The occasion for this came when the Pharisees tried to warn Jesus that Herod was going to kill Him as he had killed John. Jesus said unto them, “Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures, today and tomorrow and the third day I shall be perfected” (Luke 13:32).
Though the ruler Herod rejected the Messiah, his household servants did not such as Chuza and his wife JoAnna. JoAnna was one of those who supplied Jesus and His disciples with money for their needs. In his hour of death, JoAnna was nearby.
And on the morning of the third day she was walking with others to the place where they had laid the Lord. She was walking with her eye upon one stone.
Perhaps there was yet one other woman in the band that first Easter morning, and that was Mary, the mother of the humanity of Christ (Luke 24:10). It is difficult to imagine that she who loved Christ most of all would not be present among those who wanted to anoint His body. Like Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Christ had many miracles to remember as she made her way to the gravesite.
There was the miracle of the birth of Jesus, for Mary was still a virgin when the angel of the Lord had appeared to her. The angel called her “blessed” for she, among all women, had been chosen to give birth to the Messiah.
There was the miracle of the child’s survival. Even the vast resources of Herod the Great could not produce the baby for a slaughter, though Herod tried.
There was the miracle of His power. It was at a wedding in Cana of Galilee that Mary first witnessed the awesome power of her Son.
In the midst of the celebration, Mary remembered, the wine had run out. It was a socially embarrassing moment for the guests to have nothing to drink. Mary told Jesus and Jesus did something. He turned water into wine. And the wine was so good it elicited a comment from those who drank it. The power of Jesus was demonstrated in other ways. Mary knew He had made the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, the sad to sing, and the leper to be whole again. Even the dead became alive in His presence!
Mary also remembered that eight days after the birth of Jesus, He had been taken into the Temple to be circumcised. There in the Temple an old man named Simeon had met them and had asked to hold the baby. Mary recalled all the words Simeon had said and his conclusion, for as Simeon was handing the child back to Mary he had said to her that, “a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also” (Luke 2:35).
As Mary walked towards the sepulchre, a sword had pierced her soul. She had watched Jesus being falsely accused. She had heard the cry of the crowd chanting, “Crucify Him!” “Crucify Him!” Mary had witnessed the Via Delarosa, the way to the Cross, until she finally stood beneath the Cross of Calvary. Helpless and hurting, she stood there. As Jesus suffered, Mary suffered. A sword pierced through her soul.
Now, on the third day she has come back to her Son one last time, still full of sorrow. “But wait Mary! Wait! Just a few more steps. Keep your eye upon that one stone for in just a few moments, Mary, all sorrow will cease and all grief will be gone. There is a song in the air and you will sing it yet!”
“Sing, soul of mine, this day of days,
The Lord is risen.
Toward the sun rising set thy face,
The Lord is risen.
Behold He giveth strength and grace;
For darkness, light; for mourning, praise;
For sin, his holiness; for conflict, peace.
Arise, O soul, this Easter Day!
Forget the tomb of yesterday,
For thou from bondage art set free;
Thou sharest in His victory
And life eternal is for thee,
Because the Lord is risen.”
It is instructive to observe that as it was a woman who witnessed the death of the First Adam, so it was a woman who witnessed the resurrected life of the Last Adam. Jesus had left the tomb!
Confronted with the fact of the empty sepulcher, the women were commanded to do three things. First, they were commanded to believe (Matt. 28:5-6). Believe!
“Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes;
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!”
Second, the women were instructed to share. In general, they were to tell the Twelve, and Peter in particular (Mark 16:7). Why Peter? Why was he singled out? The answer in part is this. He who sins much, needs much grace. Peter was in need of uncommon grace because he had denied the Lord of glory. So it was that the ladies went to tell the Disciples. From the tomb they came,
“Renewed in hope;
with eyes alight, they bare
Christ risen in their hearts,
alive, not dead—
He has been with them everywhere!”
Third, the ladies were told to rejoice without fear. “Fear not,” said the angel.
“He is not here, for He is risen.”
“Now let the heavens be joyful,
Let earth her song begin;
Let the round world keep triumph,
And all that is therein;
Invisible and visible,
Their notes let all things blend;
For Christ the Lord hath risen,
Our joy that hath no end.”
John of Damascus
Full of great joy, the Bible says that the women did go and tell the disciples (Matt. 28:8). However, being the type of men they were, the Twelve did not believe the fantastic report. The women seemed full of idle tales (Luke 24:12) and so they mourned and wept (Mark 16:10). The exceptions were Peter and John.
According to the gospel of John, there was a footrace between the two as both men sped with their eyes upon one stone. John being younger and faster, outran Peter and came first to the sepulchre. But fear filled his heart so that he only looked inside, but did not go in. In contrast, Peter was not about to be held back. With that wonderful boldness, which was both his strength and his weakness, Peter walked inside the empty tomb to discover Jesus was gone.
The angels were gone.
The women were gone.
The only thing in the tomb was the sound of silence and some burial clothes that Christ had left behind.
In the stillness of the darkness, Peter stooped down and picked up the linen clothes lying, and he believed. Years later, Peter went to his own death without fear or doubt for he still believed that Jesus was alive forevermore.
Christ said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” Here is the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy of seven eyes upon one stone. But the question comes,
“Have your eyes even been laid upon that one stone? Do you believe that Jesus is alive today? If not, why not?” Come to Christ. Believe in the resurrected Lord, for to know Him is to know life eternal.
“If the resurrection of Christ be not true,
Then all the lilies low must lie,
The Flanders poppies fade and die;
The spring must lose her fairest bloom,
For Christ were still within the tomb—
If the resurrection be not true.
If the resurrection of Christ be not true,
Then faith must mount on broken wings,
Then hope no more immortal spring,
Then hope must lose her mighty urge,
Life prove a phantom, death a dirge—
If His resurrection be not true.
“If the resurrection be not true,
‘Twere foolishness the Cross to bear,
He died in vain who suffered there;
What matter, though we laugh or cry,
Be good or evil, live or die,
If His resurrection be not true.
If the resurrection of Christ be not true—
But it is true, and Christ is risen!
And mortal spirit from its prison
Of sin and death with Him may rise!
Worthwhile the struggle with the prize,
Since His resurrection, aye, is true!”
Henry H. Barstow