Mary had her moment. She stuck around after Peter and John returned home.
“Then the followers went back home But Mary stood outside the tomb, crying.” John 20:10-11
At one point, on one certain day, Jesus had entered Mary’s life. He had driven out seven demons and had restored her to sanity.
“and also some women who had been healed of sicknesses and evil spirits: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out;” Luke 8:2
From that point on Mary was devoted to Him. Jesus had been the only One who had the power to stop the voices in her head. He had given her life and had set her free from all the warring going on inside her. She, Joanna, the wife of Cuza (a manager Herod’s house), Susanna and many others, travelled around with Jesus and His disciples. These women used their own money to help Jesus and his apostles.
Day in and day out Mary heard Jesus’ voice. She knew His tone, His dialect, and His inflections. His words brought wholeness to her mind. He was her Shepherd and she was part of His flock.
Jesus once told the Pharisees, “My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10:27
Now, early in the morning, three days after His death, she is broken-hearted and bewildered. The One who had given her wholeness had been laid to rest in a rich man’s tomb. She had seen it with her own eyes. She saw Nicodemus and Josephus wrap the grave clothes around Him, and now all she sees is an empty tomb. Mary is perplexed, “Who had the power to roll that heavy stone up hill?” She had come to the grave site wondering who could possibly roll the stone aside enough for her to enter in. This stone was the only thing that stood between her and her mission – to complete anointing the body of Jesus so it wouldn’t rot so quickly. That thought was her only puzzle as she left her home early that morning with the spices and the burial oil in hand. Now she faced a different conundrum. Someone had taken away the body of her Lord, her Good Shepherd, her Master and her Great Teacher and she wanted some answers.
She’s not like Peter and John. She won’t let this rest. So, she stuck around to investigate. Tears may have rolled down her cheeks, but Mary didn’t let her broken heart get in the way. She was determined to get to the bottom of this mystery.
“As she was crying, she stooped to look into the tomb. She saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet, where Jesus’ body had been lying. They said to her, “Woman, why are you crying?” Because they’ve taken away my Lord,” she told them, “and I don’t know where they’ve put Him” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not know it was Jesus. “Woman,” Jesus said to her, “why are you crying? Who is it your are looking for?” Supposing He was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you’ve removed Him, tell me where you’ve put Him and I will take Him away.” Jesus said, “Mary.” Turning around, she said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” – which means “Teacher.” John 20:11-16
In those moments heaven touched earth. Mary pressed in to know the truth and she was rewarded. Jesus stood right in front of her and she didn’t recognize Him. The warnings and the promises were shrouded from her memory because the last sight of Him had been of Him wrapped in grave clothes. She had watched on as Nicodemus and Josephus had cleaned the blood off Jesus’ wounds. Jesus’ body had been anointed and cleansed before the shroud had been placed around Him. Those were her last glimpses of Jesus’ body and because of that she couldn’t recognize her Great Teacher. She held on to her own assumptions, “He must be the gardener,” she thought to herself. But when He spoke her name, her fog lifted. Recognition and revelation brought everything into clarity. She was His sheep and He was her Good Shepherd. She knew His Voice and it was her trigger of remembrance. Mary spoke in her ancestral language, “Rabbouni!” My Great Teacher. For that is who He was to her. As He walked and travelled during those previous 3 years, Mary drank in His every word and teaching. She clung to them for they brought her life and well being. Then, He spoke her name. He had spoken it on many occasions before, and now it was all she needed to remember His Promises.
“The doorkeeper opens it for Him, and the sheep hear His voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought all his own outside He goes ahead of them. The sheep follow Him because they recognize His Voice.” John 10:3-4
God says, “See, I have written your name on the palms of My hands.” Isaiah 49:16
Mary had her moment of recogniztion. Jesus called her by name. Same is true with us. He knows those who are His. He knows our names and has them engraved, tattooed in the palm of His hand. Sometimes we just don’t recognize Jesus present with us because our thoughts are shrouded with worries and the everyday pressures of this life. We also cling to our own assumptions of how Jesus must look or how He must act in our various predicaments and those assumptions keep Jesus shielded from our view.
Mary took the time to press on and search for Him and when she did He rewarded her with recognition. One moment she was broken-hearted the next she was filled with joy because she heard Him calling her by name. At times our lives are filled with brokeness, but I know Jesus is alive, and because He lives, He is ever present with us. That was one of His promises. He is always calling out our names, but the only way we can hear it is to shut out all the voices in this world, let go of our assumptions, press in and search for Him, and listen for our Good Sheperd to lead us out.
Who is Jesus to you? What do you call Him by? Rabbi, Healer, Shepherd, Lord, Savior, Friend?