In the darkness before the dawn makes way for sight, Mary Magdalene journeyed towards Jesus’ tomb. Not only was she one of the few who heard Jesus’ final words, she was also one of the few to seek an opportunity to give honor for the dead man who loved her so well. What deep grief she must have carried in her steps. What confusion as she wondered what could possibly be next for her and for all who believed in the Messiah. Jesus’ coming was supposed to lead to wrongs made right, for sickness to submit to healing, for the ones who hungered for bread and for righteous to be full and, consequently, to be generous with others. What now?
Mary Magdalene, in the unknown, simply took the next faithful step.
She did what she knew to do: to continue to follow and honor Jesus with her life. In her faithfulness, she went to the tomb to properly grieve and care for the body of Jesus. An empty tomb raised alarm as she shared this seemingly more bad news with Jesus’ disciples (John 20). Could someone have stolen the body? After Peter and presumably John investigated Mary Magdalene’s claim, they returned home to their despair and disappointment, but Mary Magdalene continued to be faithful and remained at the tomb. She could not have imagined the full glory that awaiting her there.
In grief that momentarily blurred her vision, Mary Magdalene mistook Jesus resurrected as the gardener and begged him to tell her where Jesus was. All Jesus had to do was call her by name, and her ability to see through the pain returned. Jesus knows his disciples intimately by name, and his disciples know his voice. Mary Magdalene responds with renewed hope and awe: “Rabboni!” My teacher! My teacher, a name of love and familiarity, a name that demonstrates how close Mary Magdalene and Jesus were, a name that shows Mary was a disciple of Jesus.
Mary Magdalene clings to her Savior. How could she not? Even though she may not have fully understood it all in that moment, Mary Magdalene had to have known her life—and the world—was never going to be the same again. Death was defeated, and hope named Jesus was alive. Jesus then calls her to share the Good News with his hidden Disciples. Because of her faithfulness of taking the next step and then the next step and the next step, Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus in his resurrected state and the first to preach the Easter message. From a position of closeness came the call. Out of relationship with Jesus came purpose fulfilled. A formerly dismissed and demonic woman took her place in the Kingdom of God, showing us the way to do the same.
He is risen! He is risen, indeed.
Movement Step: Take time this week to simply adore Jesus. Reflect on his goodness and forgiveness. Worship with thanksgiving. Then do not just cling to him all to yourself—share his message of redemption and hope with someone and take your place in God’s kingdom, just like Mary Magdalene.
Bauckham, Richard. Gospel Women. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2002.
Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. InterVarsity Press, 1993.
Richards, Sue and Larry Richards. Every Woman in the Bible. Thomas Nelson, 1999.