I’ve always found it to be one of the most beautiful moments of the resurrection. Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb to finish the burial preparations. I’m sure she walked wearily, like anyone who has suffered intense grief. The One who had set her free, the One she had followed faithfully—she had seen Him slaughtered, bled out, dead. She had seen Him taken from the cross, seen Him laid out on the stone slab of a tomb. She had wept in the arms of His mother, wept in the arms of His friends. As she walked to His grave that day, she was surely spent by tears and grief. Was her mind still numb? Was it spinning with confusion and questions?
When she arrives, the tomb is open. Jesus is gone. Was the abuse of the Romans not enough? Was His body to be even further desecrated? Her weeping begins again. She wouldn’t even be able to properly see His body laid to rest.
And then He appears to her there—but she doesn’t recognize Him. She doesn’t recognize Him…until He says her name. He speaks it, “Mary.” Instantly she knows. She recognizes His voice as He says her name. He says her name, and her whole world changed.
What can I say about this? To draw out a moral would be to undermine the power of this precious, intimate moment. I must sit with this picture, treasure it in my mind—this simple woman, with rekindled hope and joy at the sound of her name.
I’ve been thinking since Easter morning about the first sisters and brothers who saw the risen Jesus. Mary and the other women at the tomb. The limping eleven, huddled behind locked doors with a conspicuously empty seat at the table where Judas once was. The disciples on the road to Emmaus, confused, not recognizing their Lord until He broke the bread with them.
Jesus came to them, flesh and blood, alive. He came to them—to announce his resurrection life. To bring them peace and joy instead of sorrow. To prove that his death was not in vain.
All I can say is that the resurrection transformed their lives. They went from mourners, from these fearful ones cowering behind locked doors, to boldly proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah and Savior of the world. Within several weeks, leaders would marvel at their boldness. They would marvel at these “uneducated, common men.” Acts tells us these leaders “recognized that they had been with Jesus”—or perhaps, more importantly, that they had been with the risen Jesus. Without the resurrection, they would have remained a rag tag group—some men and women who’d left their professions, their homes, their families to follow a dead religious zealot. But with the resurrection of Jesus and the subsequent sending of the Holy Spirit, they became a force that would change the face of history.
The resurrection changed everything. It changes everything.