17 April, 2024

The Resurrection: A Personal Encounter

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by | 1 March, 2024 | 2 comments

By Renee Mitchell 

In the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection, nobody had more fascinating experiences (in my opinion) than Mary Magdalene. Not only was she the first person to see the risen Lord, but we can model our walk with the Lord today on her personal journey with Jesus. 

JESUS AS HEALER 

Mary Magdalene is first mentioned in the Gospel of Luke as one of the women accompanying Jesus on his travels throughout various cities and villages. We see an example of Jesus’ healing power in Luke 8:2 which says he cast seven demons out of Mary; his first relationship with her was that of healer. As a person under the power of demons, Mary would have experienced physical and mental tortures daily. She also most likely was socially ostracized and isolated. In removing the demons, Jesus not only cured her physical and mental ailments, he also enabled her to connect with other individuals and begin leading what most people would call a “normal” life. As Christians, however, we know that such an encounter with Jesus leads to anything but a “normal” life. 

JESUS AS TEACHER 

Once healed, Mary Magdalene became a dedicated follower and disciple of Jesus. In reading through the Gospels, we can deduce that Mary was a woman of financial means, able to help support Jesus’ human needs (food, shelter, clothing, etc.). She, along with other women, relieved Jesus of the burden of securing these necessities so he could focus on his earthly ministry. As she followed him, she became a student of his teaching, which illustrates the second relationship Jesus had with Mary—that of teacher. In those days, rabbis refused to teach women, and females were restricted to the outer courts of synagogues. Contrast that with how Jesus freely welcomed women and accepted their service to him. He taught both women and men, welcoming everyone into the fold. Imagine how it must have felt not only to be healed but also accepted as an equal in the eyes of Jesus! I imagine that Mary—along with his other female followers—clung to every word he spoke and followed him everywhere he went. 

JESUS AS SAVIOR 

This journey eventually led Jesus to the cross. Scripture tells how Mary Magdalene witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion. 

Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there (Mark 15:40-41).  

The Greek word used for “watching” in this passage carries the idea of detached observation, meaning it was not the type of watching that leads to conviction. In other words, these women knew Jesus was God in the flesh as he hung from the cross. This is the reason I believe they remained there until the bitter end. All of the male disciples had left, and at least one even denied knowing Jesus, but the women remained with him. Oh, what a valuable lesson that even in the worst of times, we need to remain with him, for he is always with us (Hebrews 13:5-6)! 

We know the rest of the story—Jesus was buried in a tomb and a stone was rolled in front of it to prevent anyone from stealing his body. On the third day, John 20 says Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb early and found the stone removed from the entrance. She quickly went and told Peter, who ran to the tomb along with another disciple. The men found the linen cloths lying in the tomb and confirmed Jesus’ body was gone. After they left, Mary remained at the empty tomb and wept. Her Lord had died, and now his body had disappeared. As Christians, we understand that the spirit is the animating force of a person, but still, we interact via the physical body. Not being near Jesus, I imagine, caused in Mary a feeling of emptiness and further loss. I believe that was why she continued to weep. 

When the angels appeared to Mary and asked why she was crying, she told them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him” (John 20:13, New King James Version). When Jesus (whom she did not recognize) asked that same question and also, “Whom are you seeking?” Mary thought he was 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” (John 20:15, NKJV). Many have surmised that Mary, a woman of financial means, wanted to take Jesus’ body and properly bury him herself. She needed closure and could only have that by knowing his body had been laid to rest in the proper manner. 

Then came the heartwarming and powerful moment of recognition: “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’” (John 20:16).  

Earlier in his Gospel, John wrote, “The sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name . . . and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice” (John 10:3-4, NKJV). When Jesus said Mary’s name, she immediately knew who he was and clung to him. At this point, though she may not have realized it, Jesus became her Savior—he had conquered death and risen from the grave. Wow! To have been there that day and seen the risen Lord—the man thought to be dead and buried, now standing outside the tomb, alive as he could be! 

Mary was the first to see the risen Savior; unfortunately, the disciples did not believe her when she told them. It’s not all that surprising the men did not believe her, since the testimony of women carried no weight in that time. I find it so interesting that Jesus chose Mary, a woman, as the first witness to his resurrection. I believe it shows that humans may hold others in lower regard, but in Jesus’ eyes, men and women are equal. The disciples would learn later that the Gentiles were also equal in the gift of eternal life through Christ. 

Mary Magdalene was so fortunate to have such a close relationship with Jesus, but all of us can have that same connection. As Christians we have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, and through him we have the promise of eternal life. As we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18), he becomes the teacher of “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3, NKJV). As we read and study the Bible, we never stop learning. Mary heard Jesus teach in person, but we have the written Word to guide us daily.  

Finally, I believe Jesus can be a healer today, for as we move further away from sin, we lead healthier spiritual lives. I have seen how a healthy spiritual life can spill over into the emotional and physical aspects of our being. Sin brings with it so many problems; by working to put sin to death in our life, we can avoid the harmful physical and emotional effects that come with it. 

I hope and pray we all develop the sort of relationship with Jesus that Mary Magdalene had. Let us embrace him as healer, teacher, and Savior daily and cherish that connection with our Lord. 

Renee Mitchell is Product Manager for Publishing Systems at S&P Global Ratings. Prior to that, she served 20 years in the United States Air Force as a Cyber Operations Officer, retiring in 2015 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. An active member of Toastmasters and popular women’s conference speaker, Renee lives with her husband, John, and daughter, Madison, in Mason, Ohio. 

2 Comments

  1. Cheryl Mohorn

    What a wonderful reminder of women and their role in affecting the outcome of church history and society. May God bless you for your service to our country and this ministry.

  2. Loren C Roberts

    All through Scripture women have held major roles.

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