One Brave Woman!
The past several years, my Easter post has addressed the fact that the resurrected Lord first appeared to a woman! I thought I would approach it a bit differently today, but I keep coming back to the miracle of that moment when He spoke her name – and she recognized him.
We don’t know which Mary it was who lingered in the garden outside the empty tomb. Historians tell us it was Mary of Magdala who was often depicted as a former prostitute. Doesn’t matter which one it was; the point is it was a “she” rather than a “he”. It was not Peter, James or John who Mary had summoned to the tomb when she found it empty that morning.
Before the Dawn!
She rose early, packed a basket of precious ointments with which to anoint the body of her Lord. It was still dangerous on the streets of Jerusalem as Roman soldiers kept close guard on the unruly Jews celebrating Passover. They were especially vigilant this day because they feared the words of the crucified Jew who stated he would rise on the 3rd day after his death.
Mary was no stranger to danger. She traveled with Jesus, the disciples and a growing throng of folks who wandered with him as he went from village to village spreading a new message – a new “law” fulfilling the old Mosaic one. More than anything, she wanted to tend to his body that it might not rot and decay in the heat of the day.
It was cool in Joseph’s garden. Here they placed Jesus after the horrible events of Friday. Joseph was a kind man with considerable respect among the Jews – and he secretly loved the Lord. It was Joseph who offered a final resting place in a partially finished tomb near Golgotha, the site of the crucifixion.
Mary made her way among the trees, wondering how she would roll the giant stone from in front of the tomb without any of the male disciples help. Her concern was short-lived when she walked into the clearing and found the stone rolled from the small opening.
She stepped back in horror! What in the world has happened? Who has rolled the stone away?
Timidly she approached and peered inside. At the foot of the marble slab where they laid her Lord was the neatly folded shroud which wrapped Jesus’ body in death. But he was not there. No one was there.
Mary stumbled from the opening and fled. Back in the room where they hid after the crucifixion, she awakened Peter, James and John. Together they ran to the tomb, not believing Mary’s account that the Lord was not there. They were astonished to find her account absolutely true. He was not there. The only indication Jesus had once been in that dark damp tomb was the shroud – neatly folded at the foot of his ‘final’ resting place.
The three male disciples ran back to the safety of the room tucked inside the city walls. But Mary stayed behind; bewildered and devastated. Not only had they nailed him to the cross, but now they’ve hidden his body. Hidden him from her! Exhausted and bone weary, she dissolved in a flood of tears.
Called By Name. . .
“Woman, why do you weep?”
Startled, Mary thought it was the gardener. Now at least someone would tell her where to find her beloved Lord.
“Sir, I’ve come to anoint the body of my dear friend and someone has moved him. Will you tell me where to find him so I can anoint his body?”
“Rabboni“, she cried.
It was Jesus. But a different Jesus – a resurrected Jesus. It had happened just as He told them it would. That on the 3rd day He would rise from the dead to live forever at the right hand of His Father. His Father – her Father and the Father of all who would come to believe.
Jesus sent Mary to tell the others. Tell them that He had risen from the dead and that He would be joining them very soon. Heart-pounding and with excitement welling in her limbs; she raced to tell the others. . .
“He’s alive! He’s risen as He said He would!”
And the rest of the story is history. . .
A Woman First!
What an amazing realization that in a culture which held women in little to no esteem; Jesus first chose to reveal His resurrection to Mary. He elevated women throughout His earthly life; why would He do differently now that He is the risen Lord. The Lord of life.
I’m equally struck by the fact that when He called her by name, she recognized Him. Until that moment, he was simply the gardener. Was it that He looked so different? Most likely not.
Was it because she wasn’t expecting the miracle we now call Easter? Most likely.
We too may not recognize Him until He calls us by name. Until He personalizes a relationship with us – as He said He would.
Woman, Do You Hear Me?
As women, do we hear Him calling our name? Do we race through our days ignoring the voice that seeks to know us personally? And to have us know Him personally?
Are we so wrapped up in religion that we have forgotten it’s about a relationship? Perhaps we hear Him, but are too timid to respond.
Let me suggest that to hear him, even if we have responded in the past; we model our lives after Mary. Mary who lingered when the men had gone. Mary who did not fear to go where others dared not go. Mary who courageously raced to tell the others knowing they might scoff at her report. Mary who sought to cling to Him once He called her by name. Mary who remained steadfast in her faith.
Do you hear Him? He’s called you by name!
Blessed Easter joy,
Linda S. Fitzgerald, M.S.Ed, CEO & Visionary Partner
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