It was early Sunday morning and two of the women close to Jesus and his disciples had come to the tomb to prepare his body. Upon arriving they saw the stone rolled away and an angel of the Lord in dazzling white met them with the glad news that Christ was risen. The two women were told to go and tell Peter and the others that Christ was risen from the dead. Mary the mother of James left but Mary Magdalene remained behind in tears. As she sat facing the empty tomb she heard a voice behind her. Believing it to be the gardener, she asked where the body was so she could go and get him. His response was a tender and loving, “Mary.” Turning she cried out in wonder and joy, “Rabbouni!” We understand that she probably took ahold of his feet for he said to her, “You don’t need to hold on to me; I’ll be here for a while before I go to my Father.” Never has there been a more moving reunion than this. All Jesus said was, “Mary!” and in that moment her affection for her “Teacher” could not be restrained.
It has always been intriguing to me that the first person to see the resurrected Jesus was a woman from whom seven demons had been expelled (Luke 8:2). In view of the importance of Peter in early Christianity, one might assume that it would have been to him that the resurrected Jesus would have first appeared. But he heard about it from the women and even then he and the other disciples questioned the report. So Peter and John went back out to the tomb to see whether or not it was merely an idle tale. I’m inclined to believe that Mary was the first to see Jesus because her love for him was the greatest. Not that love can be quantified but it just seems so appropriate.
What does that encounter say to us in terms of how we should live? It’s simple; we should love like Mary. Taking “seven” as symbolic we can say that Mary’s love was perfect and complete. It lacked nothing. In life there are varying degrees of affection. Mary’s put her before the tomb, weeping for the loss of her Teacher. What do you suppose the rest were doing? Perhaps they were at the local “pub” coming to grips with the possibility that their hopes for prominence in the coming kingdom may have been misguided? At least, that Peter and John had to run out to the empty tomb to verify a woman’s report suggests that they had already considered returning to fishing.
What a moment! What a tender voice! What a remarkable love on the part of a woman from whom seven demonhad been cast.