"Woman, Why Weepest Thou?"

To Those in Sorrow

The blight of death has fallen upon your life, and you stand bereaved among the tombs with sorrow gripping your heart with a ruthless and iron hand. What is the world to you now, or life, since the sun of your hopes has set so suddenly, and the one who filled your heart has been torn from it, leaving a void that seems to challenge any power to ease its aching! You have sometimes in the past thought of the approach of death; in the still night, it may be, the possibility of a loved one being snatched from your side has made your heart cry out and the blood run cold in your veins; but now that the dreaded thing has come and cast its black and hateful shadow upon you — a shadow to you so tangible and dense that you have sought in your agony to lay hold upon it and tear it asunder — what will you do, and where will you look? Ah! in this poor earth, that has grown grey in its sin and sweat and sorrow, there are thousands, yea, tens of thousands, like you.

In deepest sympathy with you in this hour of darkness, and only intruding upon your sorrow in order to introduce you to true and lasting comfort, we would invite you to accompany us to a spot where the dead were laid of old, that we may show you how the tears of one were dried whose heart was broken.

Mary of Magdala stands in the garden where the mournful cypress cast their shadows and sigh in the freshening breezes o'er the tombs of the dead. The morning sun breaking over the eastern Olivet has not reached the deep grove where she weeps, and if it had its rays hold no power that can dispel the gloom of her soul, for she has lost the One in whom her life was centred, and she knows not where to find Him. The disciples, her friends, have homes and duties and distractions, but earth has no comfort for her as she stands beside that sepulchre where all that she loved had lain. Neither can heaven yield her consolation, she feels, for though "angels in white" appear and speak to her, she turns from them as though they were intruders, unable to understand or ease her grief. Behold her as she weeps, darkness above, darkness around, darkness within, and listen to her broken cry, "They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him." Is your case comparable with hers?

Yes, there is much in common between Mary and you, for your soul is searching among the shadows, searching alone, perhaps, for something, you know not what. We know what you need, and can tell you that there is a balm for your sickness of sorrow. Mary found one and much more in that erstwhile mournful garden, and so may you.

Among the shadows He waits for her — her risen Lord, and when she turns herself back and stands face to face with Him, He speaks to her, asking the cause of her grief. But she supposes Him to be the gardener, and of what use can a gardener be to her? He labours upon beautiful things that have neither sorrows nor souls — she has both, things that grow and shed their sweetness for a day, then die and are forgotten — she is full of bitterness and cannot forget — she seeks not flowers, but "Him" — who can heal the broken-hearted, who Himself is called the "Man of Sorrows." Marvellous designation for Jehovah's fellow! The gardener may work among the graves and endeavour to cover with the beauty of nature the stark nakedness of death, but a flower-strawed grave remains a grave, and the flowers fade, but the sorrow lives to drain the red heart white, unless a hand other than a gardener's intervenes. She does not want a gardener to garnish a grave, she wants her Lord to heal and satisfy her soul. And Mary's want is yours.

But if Mary knows not Jesus, He knows her and calls her by name in accents that throb with infinite love. He commands the morning for her and turns the shadow of death into joy. The darkness flies away from her soul and the dirge gives place to the triumph song within her heart as she sees Him, recognises Him, and responds to His voice to her in that one word, "Rabboni." Here is a glorious deliverance from the bondage of a hopeless sorrow. THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED. He calls her by her name, and His presence and His voice change her outlook at once and for ever.

In this, O sorrow-burdened soul, there is everlasting consolation and good hope. Death has met his conqueror; his stronghold has been stormed and taken, and the dark King of Terrors dethroned. Christ is risen, He is Victor.

In no other way could the gates of death be open for us than by His resurrection from the dead. He has opened them, and holds the keys of them, as He that lives for ever more. To all who put their faith in Him He says, "Fear not." He has flooded the darkness of death with the light of hope and love, and you may look forward with confidence to the day when "shall be brought to pass that saying which is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? … Thanks be to God which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

And the tenderness of His grace is as great as the triumph of His might; as it was for Mary in that distant day, so it is for you in this, and amid the shadow of your sorrow He waits, as He waited then for her, to speak to your heart, and to lead you out of darkness into the light of His victory and love.

The words of your friends reach your ears, and perhaps leave you more hopeless and bewildered than before. His words will reach your soul and give you divine support for human props, and a comfort and peace that death cannot destroy, for His words reveal Himself, and He is more than all you need. Turn yourself about to Him; lift your tear-filled eyes to His; hide not your broken heart from His touch; tell Him the cause of your grief.

"His love is as great as His power,
And knows neither measure nor end."

Do you now understand what it is we would bring you to? There was only one Mary Magdalene on earth, and her heart alone knew its own bitterness. There is only one YOU, and your sorrow is your own. To that one Mary Jesus revealed Himself, knowing every pang of her heart, and in such a way that she could respond and call Him "MY MASTER." This is where and how He will meet you, so that you may say, "I have not heard about Him only, I HAVE HEARD HIM. I know Him. Into the secret chambers of my soul that were possessed by a great sorrow, He has come. I have welcomed Him. I am His, He has called me by name, and He is mine — RABBONI."

It is this personal link with the living Saviour that each soul that knows Him has for itself that sweetens the most bitter cup, silences the most rebellious questions, and satisfies the deepest longings of the heart. And it is in the knowledge of His personal interest in and everlasting love for each individual sheep in His flock as though each were His only one that enables each to sing:

"With mercy and with judgment
My web of time He wove,
And aye the dews of sorrow
Were lustred with His love.
I'll bless the hand that guided,
I'll bless the heart that planned,
When throned where glory dwells
In Immanuel's land."

You will say "It is well" when you can say "RABBONI."