Summary: How the vision of the Risen Lord transformed Mary
MARY'S VISION OF THE RISEN LORD
The women hold a special honour of seeing the Risen Lord before men.
Mary Magdalene came from the village of Magdala on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. She was one of a group of women who became followers of Christ during his earthly ministry. She and the other women joined themselves to Jesus and his apostles and followed them from village to village, offering financial support and helping them in various ways. We are also told that Jesus cast seven demons (or as the KJV puts it, “seven devils") out of Mary (Luke 8:2). Before she met Jesus, she was totally enslaved by demonic powers.
When Christ set her free, he liberated her from the evil impulses that had kept her chained figuratively and perhaps literally. She is living proof that those whom the Son sets free are free indeed. Having been liberated from demonic bondage, she said to herself (and perhaps out loud), “I love him for what he did for me. I will follow him wherever he goes.” And so it came to pass that when our Lord hung on the cross, she stood nearby with Mary his mother. When they took his body down from the cross, she was there to see that awful, gory sight. When they placed him in the tomb, she was sitting on a rock ledge, watching it all happen (Matthew 27:61). On Saturday evening, after the Sabbath had concluded, she purchased spices because she hoped to anoint his dead body. (He was hastily buried on Friday in order to finish before sundown, which is why they had not finished preparing his body.
Early on Sunday morning, before the sun came up, she nd the other women ventured through the darkness to the Garden Tomb, expecting to finish the job of anointing the body of Jesus.
Mary's condition before the vision of the Lord:
She was sorrowful, confused, bewildered, in shock, frightened, and brokenhearted. It has not yet occurred to her that the empty tomb meant that Jesus had risen from the dead.
The sorrow and tears held her back from recognizing the angels and the risen Lord. Two disciples on the road to Emmaus had the same experience.
Mary's encounter with the Risen Lord:
Why didn’t she recognize the Lord? The text doesn’t say but several answers come to mind. Certainly she was not expecting to see him. Certainly Jesus was “out of context” for Mary that morning. And she had been weeping and was overcome with emotion. But the main reason seems to be that Jesus deliberately veiled his own identity much as he did with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). Jesus did not want Mary to recognize him at first so that he could teach her an important truth. She had to learn that he is always present even when he is invisible to the naked eye. From this we learn that our Lord is often closest to us when we feel the most alone. Many times while going through a dark valley, we think God has abandoned us. But if only our eyes could be opened, we would see the Lord walking with us every step of the way. Just because we don’t see him doesn’t mean he isn’t there.
Note the question Jesus asked: “Who are you looking for?” Not “What are you looking for?” That’s a different question. Mary was looking for a what, a dead body. She was looking for something; Jesus pointed her to someone. The answer to our deepest needs is not something, but someone, the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God."’ Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ And she told them that he had said these things to her” (John 20:16-18).
“Mary.” He still knows her name!
“Rabboni.” She calls him, “My Master!”
When Jesus called her name, he was conveying many things to her. “I am here. I am back from the dead. I still know you and I still love you.”
She knew his voice. And he knew her name. This fact is of supreme importance.
The moment that personal relationship between the Lord was established, she immediately recognized the Lord and realized that He is risen from dead. Her eyes were opened, the tears of sorrow were gone and she saw the risen Lord.