Summary: Mary Magdalene was an empty cup and an empty cross and empty tomb filled her up. And if you are an empty cup this morning, let me tell you how an empty cross and an empty tomb can fill you up.
Have you ever tried to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped? Pretty frustrating, amen? Just ask Jesus. It’s hard to help someone who doesn’t want help … difficult to heal someone who doesn’t think they’re sick … impossible to fill a cup that’s already full ... impossible to teach a mind that already thinks it knows everything, amen?
Mary Magdalene was an empty cup … not because she lacked intelligence but because she wasn’t full of pre-conceived notions or expectations. She was evidently a wealthy woman because she was one of the women who supported and gave material help to Jesus and His disciples. As she followed Jesus and His disciples, she listened to His teaching and Jesus’ words fell on her soul. She rejoiced in His gracious promises and the tender compassion that He showed to those in need of healing, mercy, and comfort.
Mary was “empty” for another reason. If you think women were ostracized in Jesus’ day, consider this … Mary was a spiritually unclean woman with … not one … not two … not five … but seven demons living inside her until Jesus drove them out of her.
In the eyes of the world, Mary Magdalene was an outcast … a ghost … virtually invisible … until Jesus “saw” her … healed her ... took her in … accepted her … taught her … filled her with love … and changed her life forever … until …
She watched as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a little donkey. She had heard the cheers … cheers that would turn into shouts of “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” She heard of His betrayal, His arrest … His sham of a trial. She witnessed His public humiliation … his pain … and His torture.
She was there with Jesus’ mother at the foot of the cross. She watched as the one person in the entire world who loved her and accepted her for who she was die a horrible, horrible death … stayed with Him until they took His lifeless body down … and followed Him to the tomb. She watched from a distance as they placed His body in a tomb and sealed it …
And she was empty again. Hope was gone. So she did the only thing she knew to do … she continued to stand by her Lord and Savior and serve Him in her emptiness. When the Sabbath is over, she goes and pays tribute to her teacher by preparing His body for the grave … washing and anointing His body with spices as they did for royalty … for king. Please open your Bible to John 20. [Read John 20:1-13.]
“They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him” (v. 13). Mary was already empty inside … used up … washed out … emotionally drained … but now this!
On that Sunday morning so long ago … the sun rising … the mist fading … she finds the stone rolled away. The tomb … empty. His body … gone. Her heart sinks and the emptiness she had been feeling for the past three days just got emptier.
Imagine her utter despair. Her grief. And that hollow feeling in her gut. The emptiness of the tomb pushing the emptiness of her heart to a whole new level. She stands outside Jesus’ empty tomb weeping (v. 11). She doesn’t shed tears of silent grief. She cries out! She wails at the top of her voice! Her whole body is wracked by deep, inconsolable sobs. Her love, her pain, her fear, her grief pour out of her heart uncontrollably. And then … with a word … her broken and empty heart was filled to over-flowing. [Read John 20:14-18.]
The word that caused her broken and empty heart to over-flow with joy? The word was “Miriam.” After Mary expressed her desire to take care of Jesus’ body, Jesus spoke to her personally, affectionately. He addressed her in Aramaic … “Miriam.” He uses the name that she grew up with … the name that her family and friends called her … and it spoke directly to her heart. “Miriam.”
This was the voice of the Good Shepherd calling one of His sheep by name … “Miriam.” And her heart recognized that name … that accent. How often had she heard that sweet voice speaking to her personally … “Miriam.” That one word from Jesus removed the darkness from her soul and replaced it with eternal light. Her heart was filled with rejoicing. “Miriam.” The sound of that sweet voice that had comforted her and guided her was still speaking to her. One word from Jesus removed the sorrow that filled her heart and replaced it with great joy.
He speaks to her personally and her response is equally as personal … “Rabboni.” You often see it translated as “Rabbi” or “Teacher” but it is a term or a title of affection … “Rabboni” … “my dear Master” … a term she probably used when speaking to Jesus during those happy days of fellowship that she had enjoyed in His presence.