So many characters take part in the Easter story. Mary Magdalene has captured my attention this Easter. Happy Easter to all and here are my thoughts:
Mary rose early this Easter morning hundreds of years ago, before anyone else did. It had been a restless night for her—she still had trouble believing that Jesus was dead. She stood at the foot of the cross and witnessed him breath his last. She wept uncontrollably and the other women surrounding her collapsed into each other in their sorrow.
For the last two nights, the disciples and followers had slept together, scattering around the room on mats where they had shared the Last Supper with Jesus, frightened with what they faced in the future. The Sabbath (Saturday) had drug out endlessly. They couldn’t return to the tomb because of the Passover celebration, so they hung out in that hollow room, wondering what they faced.
Quietly, as the darkness faded away, she closed the door behind her and headed straight to the tomb where they had buried Jesus. Dawn crept over the horizon—even the birds seemed to be stunned by the recent events.
The disciples had told Mary that Roman soldiers would be guarding the tomb, but she desperately had to be near Jesus. Mary wondered, “What will I do when I got there?” Freely weeping as she went now, Mary had to stifle her sobs during her sleepless night because she didn’t want to keep the others awake. It felt so good to sob deeply out loud! Her heartbreak echoed through the hills. Exhausted and nerves strained, she didn’t care who heard her on this sad morning.
When she came around the corner and started the incline to the tomb, Mary saw no soldiers—that caught her by surprise. Where were they? The next surprise took her breath away. Someone had moved the stone covering the tomb—massive stone that had taken several to place, rolled away, and she faced a gaping hole it had covered previously.
At that point, Mary went no further. She turned on her heels and ran back to tell Peter and John about her discovery. In her confused state, she thought someone had taken Jesus’ body and told the two faithful disciples that. They quickly latched on their sandals and sprinted to the gravesite. Younger John outran older Peter, and John arrived first. They measured the situation, then returned home in a confused state. What was going on?
To her credit, Mary lingered outside the tomb, weeping about the disappearance of Jesus’ body. Curiosity urged her to look inside the tomb once more—maybe they were wrong, maybe it was an illusion. Maybe Jesus’ body was there. But what she saw again surprised her—it had been a morning of surprises.
Two angels sat where Jesus had been and questioned her about her tears. She answered their questions directly, then a third person appeared behind Mary, who she thought was a gardener. She didn’t look at him but quizzed the angels and him about where they had put Jesus.
It wasn’t until this third person simply said her name, “Mary,” that she turned around, shocked, and recognized his voice. It was the risen Jesus. After a short discourse where Jesus told her what to do, she returned to the disciples. As she ran, her hair tangled with her scarf. Mary’s heart raced. She threw open the door to their lodging and exclaimed, “I have seen the Lord!”
Source: John 20:1-18
What an amazing revelation! In her lingering at the tomb and not rushing off, Mary Magdalene became the first eyewitness to Jesus after the crucifixion. A woman—imagine that!
“In all four Gospels, she is the first to witness Jesus after his resurrection.”
I just spent forty days in a Lenten study using Fr. Richard Rohr’s book, Wondrous Encounters, with four other women from all over the world. Daily we communicated on WhatsApp after reading the day’s reading, then we commented and shared our lives. I’m sure these strong, spiritual women (my sister disciples) inspired me to connect so deeply with Mary Magdalene this Easter.
Mary Magdalene’s faithfulness as a follower gave her the privilege of being that person who Jesus first appeared to. I love the fact it was in saying her name that she recognized him. Before that, he appeared and Mary focused on the two angels and her questioning them. She didn’t turn around because she knew these two angels had all the answers she needed. Jesus spoke to her, but in was in saying her name that she recognized him—how powerful our names are when said by a loved one!
Finally, Mary Magdalene, a woman, became the first eyewitness of the risen Lord. She lingered, didn’t rush off in a hurry. I wonder what encounters with Jesus I’ve missed in my life by always being in a hurry—busy, busy, busy.
To many, the Easter story is familiar and maybe has lost its luster. By focusing on one person this year, it made this wonderful story rich and alive for me differently.
Have you ever focused on one character in the Easter story? Peter? John? Jesus? Judas? If so, what was your experience?
If you missed my post from last week with a New Mexico flair:
~Celebrate spring with 20% off select book bundles at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft until April 30!
~NEW PODCAST to be released Thursday, March 17, 2022, discussing my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? : Live on Purpose Podcast at https://liveonpurposeradio.com/category/podcast/
~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story
~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:
~Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A
~Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com