Does Mary Magdalene Jump To Conclusions?
As the lifeless body of Jesus is laid into the virgin tomb, those who witnessed the spectacle retreat into the city that has claimed the lives of so many prophets. All are crushed that their teacher and friend has died such a horrible death. Their hopes are dashed against the rocks of Golgotha.
In the first hours of grief, Jesus’ followers huddle together in secret in the city, hoping to avoid arrests and executions. They mourn. They grieve. They remember.
Three days later, some venture outside the city and return to the place where He was buried. Miraculously, the stone has been rolled back, and the rock-hewn tomb is empty.
Has someone taken His body?
Are His enemies laying a trap for His followers?
Or perhaps—could it be—that the last days have arrived?
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
Mary Magdalene and several other women agreed to go to the tomb early on the first day of the week, so that they might show their love for Christ in completing the burial preparations. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had been forced by circumstances to prepare His body hastily, and the women wanted to finish the task. Their great concern was how to get into the tomb. Perhaps the Roman soldiers would take pity on them and give them a hand.
What they did not know was that an earthquake had occurred and the stone had been rolled back by an angel! It seems that Mary Magdalene went ahead of the other women and got to the tomb first. When she saw the stone rolled away from the door of the tomb, she concluded that somebody had broken into the tomb and stolen the body of her Lord. We may criticize Mary for jumping to conclusions; but when you consider the circumstances, it is difficult to see how she would have reached any other conclusion. It was still dark, she was alone, and, like the other followers of Jesus, she did not believe that He would return from the dead.
Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”
John 20:2 (NKJV)
She ran to give the news to Peter and John, who must have been living together at a place known to the other believers. Perhaps it was the Upper Room where they had met with Jesus. Mary’s use of the pronoun “we” is interesting, for it included the other women who at that moment were discovering that Jesus was alive! (See Mark 16:1-8 and Luke 24:1-8) The women left the tomb and carried the angels’ message to the other disciples.
It is significant that the first witnesses of the resurrection of Christ were believing women. Among the Jews in that day, the testimony of women was not held in high regard. “It is better that the words of the Law be burned,” said the rabbis, “than be delivered to a woman.” But these Christian women had a greater message than that of the Law, for they knew that their Saviour was alive.
Mary’s faith was not extinguished; it was only eclipsed. The light was still there, but it was covered. Peter and John were in the same spiritual condition, but soon all three of them would move out of the shadows and into the light.
The absence of women among the 12 disciples has bothered a few people. But it is clear that there were many women among Jesus’ followers. It is also clear that Jesus did not treat women as others in his culture did; He treated them with dignity, as people with worth.
Mary of Magdala was an early follower of Jesus who certainly deserves to be called a disciple. An energetic, impulsive, caring woman, she not only traveled with Jesus, but also contributed to the needs of the group. She was present at the Crucifixion and was on her way to anoint Jesus’ body on Sunday morning when she discovered the empty tomb. Mary was the first to see Jesus after His resurrection.
Mary Magdalene is a heart-warming example of thankful living. Jesus miraculously freed her life when he drove seven demons out of her. In every glimpse we have of her, she was acting out her appreciation for the freedom Christ had given her. That freedom allowed her to stand under Christ’s cross when all the disciples except John were hiding in fear. After Jesus’ death, she intended to give his body every respect. Like the rest of Jesus’ followers, she never expected his bodily resurrection – but she was overjoyed to discover it.
Mary’s faith was not complicated, but it was direct and genuine. She was more eager to believe and obey than to understand everything. Jesus honoured her childlike faith by appearing to her first and by entrusting her with the first message of his resurrection.
Lessons From Her Life
- Those who are obedient grow in understanding.
- Women are vital to Jesus’ ministry.
- Jesus related to women as he created them – as equal reflectors of God’s image.
Bible Exposition Commentary – Be Transformed
NLT Chronological Life Application Bible