Summary: Jesus singled out Mary Magdalene as the one to whom He would first appear after His resurrection, bringing her life new meaning.
I’m sure most of us have seen at least some of the game show, The Price is Right, where Bob Barker announces the contestants one by one, each one by name, “___________, come on down! You’re the next contestant on The Price is Right!” What would you be feeling if you were in that audience, waiting your name? What emotions would you be going through? Fear of failing? Joy? Excitement? Hope? Bubbling over with the potential to be getting lots of great things?
Perhaps none of us will ever be offered the chance to win big on a game show? But each of us is offered a chance to win big, to get things we don’t deserve, to be part of a wonderful plan. And each of us gets this chance when we hear our names called. What do you do when Jesus calls your name?
We celebrate the season of Easter for the victory that it brings. Philips Brooks once wrote: Tomb, thou shalt not hold Him longer; Death is strong, but Life is stronger; Stronger than the dark, the light;
Stronger than the wrong, the right; Faith and Hope triumphant say, Christ will rise on Easter Day. This is a wonderful time to look at what the empty grave means for the followers of Jesus.
Until district camp time in July, we will be looking at the words of Jesus. Not from the sermon on the mount nor from the cross. But from the time He rose from the dead until the time He ascended into heaven. What was on Jesus’ mind for the 40 days He had a perfect, resurrected body here on earth? What did He say? With whom did He spend time? Today we will look at Jesus’ first words from the tomb, Easter Sunday morning, to a woman named Mary of Magdala.
Who was Mary Magdalene? Before we answer that, let’s recap the events of Easter Sunday morning.
1. Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James, the wife of Clopas/Alpheus, “the other Mary”), Salome (the mother of James and John, wife of Zebedee), and Joanna start for the tomb, Lk. 23:55-24:1
2. They find the stone rolled away, Lk. 24:2-9.
3. Mary Magdalene goes to tell the disciples, Jn. 20:1-2.
4. Mary, the mother of James, draws near and sees the angel on the stone, Mt. 28:1-2.
5. She goes back to meet the other women following with spices.
6. Meanwhile Peter and John arrive, look in and leave, Jn. 20:3-10.
7. Mary Magdalene returns weeping, and sees two angels in the tomb. Then, she sees Jesus, Jn. 20:11-18.
8. The risen Christ tells her to let the disciples know He’s alive, Jn. 20:17-18. We’ll come back to this point in a minute.
9. Meanwhile, Mary, the mother of James, returns with the women, Lk. 24:1-4.
10. They return and see the two angels in the tomb, Lk. 24:5; Mk.16:5.
11. They also hear the angel’s message to come and see, and go and tell, Mt. 28:6-8.
12. On their way to find the disciples, they are met by the risen Christ, Mt. 28:9-10. This was all on the first morning.
But we come back to Mary Magdalene. She was the first that the risen Jesus appeared to, and spoke to. So who was she?
Mary was from the city of Magdala, an important Galilean trading center at the southern end of the plain of Gennesaret, thus her name, Mary Magdalene. She was one of the most prominent of the Galilean women who followed & ministered to Jesus. The New Testament identifies her as one of several women who had been cleansed of evil spirits. She is mentioned 11 times in the Gospels. Though there is no scriptural proof, Mary Magdalene is often identified with the sinful woman who anointed Jesus, washed his feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair, at the home of Simon the Pharisee. We can see that Mary Magdalene’s great devotion to Jesus and to His cause was expressed in very practical ways. She was one of the small group of women who, when Jesus was in Galilee, followed Him and served Him and His disciples at their own expense, as He preached and ministered to the masses.