After Jesus was crucified, he rose from the dead — an event widely known as the resurrection. The first person to see Jesus after his resurrection was Mary Magdalene. She had begun following Jesus after he had cast seven demons out of her. This drew her into his inner circles, which allowed her to witness his trial, his beatings, his sentencing, and his crucifixion. Jesus gave her the honor of alerting the disciples of his victory over the cross (John 20:11-18). The whole exchange between Jesus and Mary is both interesting and profound. There are at least three things we can learn from it.
For instance, consider how Mary is crying while at the tomb of Jesus. She is so focused on his death – and her apparent loss – that she doesn’t even realize that she is talking to two angelic beings, nor does she recognize the voice of Jesus when he speaks to her from behind. Instead, she mistakes him for the gardener (John 20:11-15). It is only after Jesus says “Mary” that she sees the supernatural, and realizes that her living Lord just validated the personal nature of their relationship by calling her name (John 20:16). While it is essential to remember the death and pain and temporary loss that occurred at the cross, it is more important to remember and trust God’s promise to save us through a sacrificial savior — a savior that knows us by name. If we become too focused on our problems and past events, and not God’s power and personal love for us, then we’ll fail to experience that love and power when it is being demonstrated in the midst of that pain right in front of us.
In the next portion of the exchange, Jesus tells Mary not to cling to him and explains that he still has work to do. He must ascend to the father and God. He tells her that his father is also her father, and his God is also her God (John 20:17). Jesus is reminding her that the moment was fleeting and not to cling on to it. Instead, he gives her something better and more permanent to hold on to. He tells her that they are now of the same family because they share the same father. Implied in this is that she will get to see him again under more lasting circumstances. He cements that point in the final part of their brief conversation. He commands her to tell the disciples that he is going to ascend. But he doesn’t call them disciples or servants or friends as he had in the past. He calls them brothers (John 20:17). Mary was given the honor of bringing to us a clear statement of our status as sons, daughters, and children of God (Romans 8:14-17, Romans 8:29, Galatians 3:26-27, Ephesians 1:5, Hebrews 2:10-13).
Are you allowing pains and difficulties to obscure the sight of the power and love of God from your eyes? Are you willing to accept your status and live your life as a child of God?