Mary Magdalene, of all the people Jesus could have sent, of all the messengers he could have commissioned. A woman, when a woman’s witness was not considered credible—and not just any woman, one who had been known to have seven demons. What made her the one Jesus would choose to be His first witness of the resurrection?
She was a recipient of firsthand knowledge by experience, one who received deeply of the love of her Savior, and it transformed her into one who stayed close to Him. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, Mary was never far away, so it’s quite fitting that she was near the cross mourning His suffering and there with spices to anoint His body after His death.
Finding His body missing from the tomb, she was in distress when He spoke gently to her. Thinking He was the gardener, she asked if He had carried Jesus’ body away, asking that He tell her where so she could get Him. There was a sad longing for the one she loved.
It’s then that she heard Him call her by name, “Mary,” that sweet sound she’d heard before. The voice of the one who spoke the word that set her free, the one who gave her worth and value, the one who taught her a new way of life and purpose. She was overwhelmed with joy and reached for Him, when He responded by instructing her not to cling to Him physically, but to go and tell His brothers (John 20:17).
The beauty of the Incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Christ and His effect on humanity are wonderfully portrayed in Mary’s story. God reveals himself in hiddenness, in the face of a perceived gardener. God is found among the suffering. When He engaged Mary, she was bound by the torment of the evil one, and God was known in her suffering. His love reaches downward to humanity; it does not ask us to reach up to Him.
And it is the love of God that creates that which is lovable. Mary was not loved because she was beautiful; she became beautiful because she was loved! What a gracious portrait that she would be the one Jesus would speak to first, the restored one, the liberated one.
The message He is sending through this unexpected witness is remarkable. I believe it was the first announcement being made of a new day, a new way of being, a new world. Jesus had been radical in His life’s teachings, and now He is radical in passing it on through others. And I don’t know about you, but as another unexpected witness, I am so grateful. Let’s go and tell!
- That those suffering would see God as sharing in their suffering and find him there.
- That those longing to be loved would see Him reaching to them with resurrection life.
- That all of us would see the privilege of being His witnesses, and that we would go and tell.
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