1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb….She turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus… Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. . -- John 20:1,14,16-18
We recently observed the day of Saint Mary Magdalene at St. John. I shared some background that day on Mary Magdalene, a woman from the village of Magdala along the Sea of Galilee. Mary was one of the women supporting Jesus and the band of disciples as they traveled. She even accompanied them on some of their preaching tours. She was with the group who followed Jesus to Jerusalem on his final trip there. Mary witnessed Jesus’ death. Finally, on Sunday she arrived at the tomb and was among the very first to hear Jesus’ voice!
John records how Mary had come to the tomb early, and saw that the stone had
been taken away, how she ran and went to Simon Peter and John to tell them! Upon her return Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. There in uncertainty and grief Mary saw angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain. Then she turned to see Jesus standing before her as the Shepherd of his sheep calling to her by name.
Jesus told her to go and tell the men that he was ascending! Mary became the first to bring the news of the resurrection to the others. As a result, she has been called the apostle to the Apostles! Mary Magdalene is uniquely set apart to bear this message to them, the first missionary sharing the news with these Apostles/future pastors who would share the ministry and mission with God’s world! That was the Lord’s plan and he used Mary as a part of that plan to lead them all toward that end. They shared this privilege as one, the men and the women working together in their own unique ways as in God’s church today. Mary’s service to Jesus together with that of the disciples, these men set apart to serve, was all part of God's plan!
For reasons we know not, Mary once was a woman possessed by evil spirits. Christ her Lord cast them all away. Mary was then freed to be his own! Then emptied of evil, Mary had a hungry heart to be filled with her Lord! Maybe Mary also needed this personal moment with Jesus. Perhaps it was that Mary who owed so much to Jesus needed some reassurance at the earliest possible moment, before the others to show that death could not put an end to the blessings she would receive!(1)
And are we not all a little like Mary, called from our own evil and saved by the
kindness of his grace? Do we not all also need that personal moment with Jesus Christ?
God grant us all hungry hearts for our Lord! For Mary’s story is also our own!
(1) Morris, Leon, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel According to John, Grand Rapids, p. 732, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995