Foundations of Our Faith Day 10: Jesus Appears to Mary
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” (John 20:11-13, NIV)
As far as His followers were concerned, Jesus was gone. He had died, failing to be who they believed Him to be. They were heartbroken and so afraid and uncertain. This would have been some of what was on Mary’s heart as she found her way to His tomb after His crucifixion. And yet, I so appreciate that she knew Him as “Lord,” as she referred to Him when speaking to the angels. Mary had seen Jesus do so many miracles, and perhaps the biggest one was the miracle He had done for her: transforming a lost woman into a woman with godly purpose. Her love for Him was evident, but more than that, she longed to know more of Him; so here she was at His tomb, searching for Him.
When we encounter Jesus on a personal level, we are never the same. We long to know more of Him and we crave His presence. In Him, we find peace and rest from the craziness of the world around us. Mary missed Him and wanted His company, and she wept for all she had lost.
When questioned by the angels sitting inside His tomb, she told them why she was crying. She had come to anoint the Lord’s body, but He was no longer there, which puzzled her. Where had they taken Him? As she turned from her conversation with these angels, she saw a Man standing there. She didn’t recognize Him by His appearance, supposing Him to be the gardener, and asked Him where they had taken her Lord so that she could go to Him. Have you ever had moments when Jesus was speaking to you, yet you didn’t know it was Him? Maybe you didn’t like the message He seemed to be giving you so you dismissed it, thinking it was just your imagination. But when Jesus spoke her name, “Mary,” she immediately knew it was Him and responded, “Rabboni!” (or teacher).
Sometimes, when the Lord speaks to us, we know it with complete certainty. Those times make it easier for us to know which way to go, or what to say or do next. We don’t wonder and question our next move; we simply hear and obey. Other times, we aren’t so sure and we struggle to know which decision to make. We want clarity and we want an obvious sign, but sometimes God calls us to dig a little deeper, to learn to wait, trust, and listen for direction. These are times when our faith is tested, and how we respond says a lot about our hearts.
Mary Magdalene’s heart was devoted to Jesus. He had changed her in ways she never imagined. From having seven demons in her to becoming a daughter of the King, she was sold out for Jesus; He meant everything to her. And now her Lord, whom she feared was dead, stood before her, alive and speaking to her. I can’t imagine the hope and joy that filled her heart in that moment with one simple word from Him, “Mary.”
The news of Jesus being alive was so wonderful that Mary took this urgent information back to the disciples. “I have seen the Lord,” she told them. I can imagine her voice was loud and full of enthusiasm and joy. Her hope had been restored, and now she wanted to share the best news ever with His followers. If He had risen, then He was who He said He was! With what urgency do I share the glorious news of the gospel? Am I quick to tell others in a joy-filled manner, like Mary? Or am I so worried about what others may think of me that I keep silent and fail to share the best news ever? I confess that oftentimes I lack Mary’s zeal for the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
How has your own encounter with Christ changed you? Who were you before you were His follower? If you are not a Christian, Christ can dramatically change your life, offering you freedom from sin’s curse and giving you the promise of an eternal heavenly home! Like Mary, we who are believers were changed by Jesus when we came to Him. We felt peace. We experienced a joy unlike any other. We received the Holy Spirit, who gives us help and comfort through each of life’s experiences. We have a certainty that our life here is just the beginning of a relationship that will flourish in eternity, safe in the Kingdom of God forever. There is nothing better than encountering Jesus and accepting Him as our Savior and Lord.