“The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.” (John 20:1)
She was the first. Mary was at the front of that long line of people who actually saw the resurrected Lord! And obviously, nobody can ever take the gold medal from her neck.
All four Gospels tell us that she was the fortunate believer. Other women went early too, but none before her. Of the men we know little. They were either too sad, too confused, too discouraged, or too frightened.
Now the Bible never openly explains why Mary was given this honor. She came to the garden with some spices, presumably to finish what the various ladies considered a hasty job done by the two men after the crucifixion. They had probably scheduled to meet there and she just happened to arrive before the rest. She showed surprise at the empty tomb, so she wasn’t expecting the resurrection any more than the others.
However, the Holy Scriptures lead us to believe that she had unknowingly been drawn to the garden for a private appointment before everyone else!
Two of the Evangels inform us that this Mary had been healed of a severe case of demon possession, mentioning the exact number . . . seven! Elsewhere, the Lord had implied in His teaching that to be invaded by seven demonic beings was torture of a high order. Her corresponding debt of gratitude is understandable.
It is John who steps past his fellow writers and leads us into the actual garden scene that took place. He describes how distraught she was at discovering the missing body. She apparently spoke with two angels without blinking and then turned around to mistake Jesus for the gardener. Finally, her passionate pleas are cut short by His tone of voice and direct address.
Do you also notice something stronger in Mary than in any of the other followers? More than just missing Him, and being whacked by the thud of His death, she seems to dearly love Him. The Lord Jesus Christ was the most important person in her entire world! Even in the bewilderment caused by His mysterious disappearance, the petrified soldiers nearby, and a conversation with brilliant angels, she was undeterred in wanting to find and care for Him.
I think we have here a lesson in how the Lord rewards love.
God knows what love is. It finds its definition and original expression in Him. Therefore, when He calls His children to love Him with their entire being, He knows exactly what to look for. He pays serious attention to the Christian who deeply loves Him and enjoys rewarding that devotion extravagantly.
Perhaps, then, the most important question I can ask in this context is, “How deep and pure and intense is my love for the Lord?” If I do not love Him with heart, soul, and body . . . why not?
I can be sure He knows the answer to both questions.
Dear Father, how easy it is to talk about Your love, to study it, and divide it up in its various Biblical expressions. But, oh Lord, please turn that theory into a powerful reality in my heart. Amen.