“I Have Seen the Lord” – a Monologue Based on John 20:1-18, Preached on Easter 2019

This monologue is my own work. If you find it helpful in your own ministry context, I ask that you contact me first and give credit appropriately.

I have seen the Lord! Come and see! Come and see! Jesus is risen! Alleluia!

I can tell some of you don’t believe me. That’s okay, Pete and the boys didn’t believe me either. Why believe a woman? They said I was hysterical. Crazy. You may have heard that too, that I was “eccentric.” I’ve heard the rumors, passed down over generations, that I was possessed by demons, that my mind never really recovered, that I was always a little erratic. The truth is, they got me mixed up with another woman.

I’ve heard the other rumors, too – the ones that say I was a prostitute. There are so few women in this story, but still, they confused me with yet another woman, and for two thousand years I’ve been “that harlot.” If only Mary hadn’t been such a popular name! Then they mistranslated my name, Mary the Magdalene. Some said Magdala was the place I came from, others even said it was slang for my alleged “profession.” Did you know they still make pictures of me as eternally penitent, bent down in prayer for my supposed sins? Not kneeling at his feet at the base of the cross, not waiting steadfastly by that tomb for days, not with my face filled with joy in that garden…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

My point is, it wouldn’t have mattered. It wouldn’t have mattered if I was promiscuous or insane. Not to Jesus. That’s just how he was. It’s why so many of us ended up following him, and ended up loving him. He loved us – all of us outsiders. The women like me who got whispered about or flat-out threatened. The men who couldn’t walk or couldn’t see, and the assumption was that they were being punished by God. The people everyone thought were crazy. If others thought we were unacceptable in some way, he just loved us even more.

He gave me that name, you know. Magdalen. Like Simon Peter, who he called the Rock. Magdalen didn’t mean prostitute. It meant “the tower.” Because I was tall. Or perhaps because he saw something stronger in me.

The whole time we were with him, things just kept getting more and more exciting. More…hopeful. Something was coming, we could tell. He could be a mysterious guy, but if you were paying attention, you could tell something big was about to happen. So many of us were outcasts and outsiders, we weren’t used to really being part of something. With Jesus we were really part of everything. Even the crazy people. Even the outcasts. Even the unclean. Even the – – – women!

You’ve heard the stories about the healings and the miracles, but for most of us, the good news was that we finally belonged. When he rode into Jerusalem with the crowds cheering and we were following behind him, we were together. I felt strong. We were ready for anything – or so we thought.

You know about the next few days, of course. We…were not ready. Who could have been ready for that? This person I saw every day, who I loved so much – gone. And it was more than that. We had seen him heal wounds, multiply food, he even raised three people from the dead! I could never have imagined that I would see him die on a cross like a criminal. I could never have imagined taking down his broken body and preparing him for burial. Nothing had ever seemed permanent to me, but he…he seemed eternal.

And then, like ash in a stray breeze, he was gone. It was all gone.

They all said that everyone left him after that, that he laid in that tomb deserted, alone, as all the disciples ran and hid in fear. They meant the men disciples. We were still there – the women – keeping watch in turns. I was still there. At dawn this morning I took more of the spices we used to prepare his body and went to take my watch, to say my goodbyes, alone this time. I left the other women sleeping; we were so tired from weeping. The mist hung heavy over the cemetery and the first light was beginning to give a silver glow. Everything was so still, it was as if all the earth was waiting for something. Or someone. I was lost in my grief, I almost didn’t notice until I was on top of it: the tomb had been opened. That huge stone, that had taken several soldiers to roll it, had been moved aside. My heart beat hard in my chest as I stepped slowly inside. It was empty! Who had taken his body? Where? Why??

I ran to Peter and John for help, and they found the same thing I had seen: the body gone, only the linen wrappings left behind. Why would they unwrap a dead body? Peter began to rage about grave theft, but John and I exchanged a look. I could almost hear Jesus…something about the third day? Could we dare to believe…? He shook his head. It couldn’t be.

They went back home, and told me to go home and get some sleep too, but I stayed, leaning against the tomb. It was all too much, and I found myself weeping again. I had thought I was out of tears.

But then, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a flash of white from inside the tomb. I turned, and found two…not humans. Definitely not humans. Angels? I stared at them stupidly as they asked me why I was weeping. “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him!”

And then I heard another voice asking the same question, “Why are you weeping?” A gardener! Why am I weeping? My world has ended! “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away!”

But then…his voice. “Mary.”

“Rabbouni! Teacher!” And just like that, death fell away, not only from him, but from me too, and from us all.

I could have held onto him forever. But he reminded me, I didn’t need to. I am the tower.

When I went back to the men, they didn’t believe me, not at first. Not til they saw it with their own eyes. I was just a woman. Maybe a loose woman. Maybe a hysterical woman. But I know, and now you do too. They would come to believe every word that I said. I am Mary, the Magdalene. Mary, the Tower. And I have seen the Lord.

flock of birds flying above the mountain during sunset

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Becky Castle Miller says:

    This is wonderful!

  2. Becky Castle Miller says:

    This is wonderful. Really takes us into the story.

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