Looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2 (NRSV)

“Mistress, why are you lamenting? Who are you looking for?”

John 20:15

Mary heard Jesus’s words, but she still did not recognize Him for she was overwhelmed with her own pain, her own heartache and sorrow. Years before, Mary of Magdala had been delivered from demon possession. How long had she been in the grip of evil, of utter darkness? What awful, unnamable things had she said and done before Jesus released her from that torment?

Into that deepest pit, with no way out, Jesus had shone the light of His healing power, calling her out into life and freedom. From that moment, Mary immediately devoted her entire life to Jesus. Not long after, Jesus had explained to His followers that those who knew and loved Him would always know His voice, and He would know every single one of them by name. (John 10:3-4)

“Mary,” Jesus now said. Instantly, she recognized her name in the Shepherd’s voice.

Only a few months before Jesus had raised their close friend Lazarus up from the darkness of death by calling his name. Perhaps when Jesus had freed Mary of her demons, He had called her out of her own dark place and into His light by saying her name. What overwhelming joy! It seems Mary then flung her arms around her beloved rabbi, so incredibly happy to have Jesus back.

Jesus had specifically, and carefully, waited to appear to Mary of Magdala first, so that she might be the first one to carry the most profound and life-changing message there is—the Gospel. Jesus chose her above His own family, above His twelve carefully selected disciples, above His other closest friends and supporters.

Jesus chose her.

Mary of Magdala was the first to

  • see Jesus risen from the dead.
  • be called by name by the Good Shepherd.
  • touch the risen Lord.
  • receive the great commission, “He is risen, Christ is risen indeed!”
  • deliver an eye-witness account of the resurrection.

The Lord Jesus valued her and honored her. Then Jesus sent her back to the community of men and women who needed to experience this same joy. 

Oh Lord, thank You for choosing us and knowing us by name. Thank you for considering our redemption “all joy,” and being the joy of our salvation, to the praise of Your glory and grace, and for the good of all Whom you love, amen.

Magdalene with the Smoking Flame (c. 1640). Oil on canvas, 128 × 94 cm (50 × 37 in). Louvre, Paris | By Web Gallery of Art: Image  Info about artwork, Public Domain

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