Jesus surprised Mary Magdalene. She was looking for him, but he actually found her.
She had followed him since he first cast 7 demons out of her. In love and gratitude, she and some other women Jesus healed accompanied him and supported him out of their own purses. They followed him to Jerusalem when it became dangerous for him and his disciples to be there. And when all the disciples fled, Mary Magdalene stayed by Jesus till the end, standing by the cross with his mother and two other women. She lingered until they unfastened his body from the cross and then shadowed them to the tomb and watched where they laid him.
Now it’s early Sunday morning and Jesus has been dead since Friday afternoon. Mary Magdalene and some other women make their way in the dark to the tomb. They find it empty and Mary runs back to tell Peter and John, who go inside, see the grave clothes folded up, scratch their heads in wonder and return to Jerusalem. Mary remains behind weeping. As horrific as the events of Friday had been, now adding insult to injury, someone has stolen Jesus’ body. As she is weeping, she peers into the tomb and sees two angels, who ask her why she is crying. She is so overcome by grief, she isn’t even startled by beings who are normally terrifying. She just wants to know where Jesus’ body is. Then she turns around and sees someone she presumes is the property caretaker. He too asks her why she is weeping and whom she is seeking. She begs this stranger to tell her where the body is. She even offers to single-handedly carry the corpse somewhere to anoint it for burial. Then the stranger speaks again.
Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher) (Jn 20:16).
Jesus says her name, “Mary.” She has heard that voice before. Something in the way he says her name causes her to instantly recognize its Jesus. What tenderness is in his voice. What love.
How incredible, amazing, and unbelievable is the joy that floods her heart. A moment before, she’d been looking for a corpse, and now the one she’d sought is alive and standing right beside her. She cries out “Rabboni!” My Teacher!
The Bible says that before we begin seeking Jesus, he is seeking us.
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (LK 19.10)
You did not choose me, but I chose you. (JN 15.16)
Philip Ryken tells the story of a mother who lost her child in an amusement park. She frantically searched for him everywhere, calling out his name, heart in her throat. Twenty minutes later she found him on a park bench next to an old man. He looked up and said to her, “Hi Mommy, you were lost.”
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We may think we were searching for Jesus, but he was the one who sought us. We were the sheep who strayed and he was the shepherd who called us, disentangled us from the thicket, lifted us on his shoulders and brought us home.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me (JN10.27)
Mary was one of Jesus’ sheep. He called her name and she heard his voice. If you are a believer, it is because Jesus called your name and you heard his voice. Do you remember when you first began to hear his voice? Why not take a moment to praise him for seeking and saving you.