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“But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned and said to him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’—and that he had said these things to her.” (John 20:11–18)
How fitting that Mary Magdalene was among the earliest witnesses to the empty tomb. This woman who had been healed of seven demons (Luke 8:2) was the epitome of who Jesus had come to seek and to save (Luke 19:10). Now, because of her devotion to Him, Mary went to the tomb early on Sunday morning. She was distraught when she saw that Jesus’ body was no longer there, for she assumed that someone had taken it away. The idea of a resurrection was the furthest thing from her mind.
When Jesus appeared to Mary, she mistook Him for the gardener. But when Jesus called her name, Her eyes were opened and she recognized Him immediately. It was just as the Jesus had said: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). The same holds true today, for as the living Christ calls His people through the gospel, they respond in faith and follow Him.
As we reflect on that first Easter Sunday, we are reminded of the various ways Christ’s resurrection gives us hope. We have hope in the face our sins, for Christ’s resurrection was proof that God had accepted His sacrifice on the cross. We also have hope in the face of death, since Christ has conquered death for us.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55)
Finally, we have hope in the face of opposition. Regardless of how the world responds to our message, we serve a Savior who has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). And this resurrected Savior has promised to be with us “to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Unlike Mary, we have not seen Jesus with our eyes and we do not have the privilege of going to the empty tomb. However, like Mary, we have heard Christ’s voice speaking through Scripture and we can tell others what we have heard. Also like Mary, we have been shown infinite grace from the crucified and risen Lord.
(This article created with the assistance of Eric Roberts.)