She had been there through the whole nightmare. Now that the brutality was over, she was committed to do the final acts of love to the one she called her Lord.

Having purchased spices late on Saturday evening after the Sabbath had ended (Mark 16:1-2), Mary Magdalene and the other women got up before dawn and made their way in the dusk of morning to the tomb of Jesus. Upon arriving at the tomb, the women found the stone moved away and the tomb open and empty (John 20:1).

Mary's mind raced to try to understand what she was seeing.

"What had happened to his body?"

"Where have they taken my Lord?"

After alerting Peter and the beloved disciple, Mary Magdalene was left alone in her grief and confusion:

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?"

"They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him." At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, "Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?"

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."

Jesus said to her, "Mary."

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means "Teacher").

Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her (John 20:11-18 TNIV).

Is this the most important question we will ever answer?

This incredible, simple, and touching appearance of the resurrected Jesus' to Mary Magdalene is filled bits of glory-filled wonder. Confusion becomes conviction. Horror transforms into hope. Weeping is replaced by witness!

Mary Magdalene, once terrorized by seven demons (Luke 8:2), is saved once more by Jesus. Her intended acts of faithful kindness to Jesus' battered and lifeless body become the turning point of human destiny. In a time where women were to be neither seen nor heard, the resurrected Jesus commissions Mary to become the apostle to the apostles: "Go instead to my brothers and tell them ..." (John 20:17). Her voice will be the first human voice to proclaim history's most profound truth: "I have seen the Lord!" (John 20:18).

And for us, the journey of this one woman reveals the marvelous truth each of us so desperately needs to hear: "You are known. Your tears are noticed. You are valuable to me. You have a mission."

No matter your gender, no matter your past, no matter your brokenness, no matter your loss, the resurrected Jesus longs to enter your life as Lord and give you comfort, hope, community, and purpose. And if you ever doubt this is true, remember Mary Magdalene and her trip with spices to an empty tomb.

The following questions are intended for your personal reflection, your use in a small group or house church, or a discussion with friends. I would also love to get your reaction on my blog:

Since the testimony of women was not trusted or appreciated in Jesus day (Luke 24:9-11), why do you think that Jesus had Mary Magdalene and the other women be His first proclaimers of the resurrection?

Mary Magdalene's journey from a woman tormented by demons (Luke 8:1-2) to the first proclaimer of the good news of Jesus' resurrection is a powerful story with a wonderful message for each of us. What is God's message to you, in your situation, in this story?

How does Mary's journey from a woman tormented by demons to the first person who proclaimed Jesus' resurrection from the dead illustrate the following two principles in Scripture?

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:26-29).

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17).

In this important life-story of Mary Magdalene and Jesus, Jesus asks Mary a very important question: "Who is it that you are seeking?" (John 20:15).

  • Is this the most important question we answer when we "go to church"?
  • Is this the most important question we will ever answer?
  • How can this question help us in our life's most important decisions?

Our Summer Series on the Post Resurrection Sayings of Jesus