Mary Magdalene: First Witness to the Resurrection
Mary Magdalene arrives at the tomb on that first day of the week to discover the tomb is
empty. They are afraid, but an angel tells them that Jesus is not there but has risen. The women rush to tell the disciples, who does not believe them. This is where we left off last week.
Reading the gospel accounts, it is difficult to know the exact order in which some of the events occur, but one thing is for sure, Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene at the tomb.
John 20: 11-13 tells us that “But Mary was standing without at the tomb weeping: so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; and she beholdeth two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain, And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have
In this passage she is only referred to as Mary, although it is widely accepted it refers to Mary Magdalene. She is weeping when the angels, notice in this passage they are referred to as angels, but in the earlier passages of Mark and Luke they are referred to as men or messengers, appear to her. They ask why she is weeping and she cries out that she doesn’t know where the Lord is.
Notice, she says “I do not know where they have laid him”. Mary Magdalene clearly still believes that Jesus is dead and his body has been moved.
John continues with verse 14, “When she had thus said, she turned herself back, and beholdeth Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.”
Jesus is standing there but she doesn’t even realize it is Jesus. This is the first sighting recorded of our Lord.
Mark 16:9 says, “Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. “
Mark makes it clear that Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene first, before anyone else. He also mentions the seven demons Jesus cast out, reminding us that Jesus came for sinners.
Mary Magdalene is standing there before Jesus, probably with tears running down her cheeks, but she does not recognize him.
John 20: 15-17 records their conversation, “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turneth herself, and saith unto him in Hebrew, Rabboni; which is to say, Teacher. Jesus saith to her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended unto the Father: but go unto my brethren,
and say to them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God.”
Jesus ask why she is weeping and we are told that she supposes him to be the gardener.
Mary Magdelene begs him to tell her where they have “laid him”. Even with Jesus standing before her, she still thinks he is dead. She does not recognize him and is willing to “take him away”.
Jesus speaks her name and only then does she recognize him and refers to him as Rabboni or teacher. This in itself explains their relationship and how she sees him. She sees him as a teacher and not a lover.
Apparently in that moment she reaches out to touch him, but he warns her not to. Just as one cannot see the face of God, one cannot touch God. For this reason, Jesus warns her not to touch him, because with his resurrection he has returned to God.
Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament commentary, “She was probably about to clasp his feet. She is told to discharge a higher duty: to go to the brethren with the glad story.”
Matthew 28: 8-10 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Matthews says they, so were the other women with Mary Magdalene still? Did they witness him appearing to Mary Magdalene? We are not told, but according to Matthew this seems to be the case.
Here we are told that they take hold of his feet, meaning they have fallen to their knees
and worship him. Jesus then tells them to go to “my brothers” or the disciples.
Mark 16:9-11 “She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.”
Mary Magdalene goes and tells the disciples that Jesus is alive.
This is the last mention of Mary Magdalene in the scriptures. We do not know what happens to her after this.
We know that Mary Magdalene is a follower of Jesus, so she more than likely stayed with the women and followed the disciples to Galilee, where they saw Jesus. She may have even been present when he ascended to heaven.
In Acts 1:14, we are told “All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.” Mary, the mother of Jesus is the only woman mentioned by name.
We do not know who the other women are, they are unnamed, but given her faithfulness it seems very plausible that Mary Magdalene was among these women that are unnamed.
Peter, James, John, Paul and the other writers of the New Testament books do not mention Mary Magdalene again by name or reference, but we can be sure she continued as a faithful follower of Christ.
Do you continue to be a faithful follower of Christ?
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