Mary Magdalene’s Defining Moment

“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!” (John 20:11-18)

In many ways this Scripture speaks for itself. Mary’s tears. Her searching. Her words. Rabboni (Dear Rabbi, dear teacher!). Take notice here. Who is the first person to see the risen Christ? It wasn’t at all who we might expect. It wasn’t Peter, John, Pilate, Herod, the Sanhedrin, James, or even Jesus’ mother, Mary.

Who was given this incredible privilege? It was Mary Magdalene. Who was the first person to joyously announce the resurrection of Christ? I have seen the Lord! It was Mary, the former demoniac. Now the grand point is before us.

When we are AC (After Christ), our BC (Before Christ) is not held against us. When we are forgiven by faith in Jesus, when he is our Savior and Lord, even the vilest things in our past are gone. We like to see ourselves in our heroes, and perhaps there is no better illustration than that of a former demoniac woman who was the first to see the risen Christ, speak to the risen Christ, touch the risen Christ, and announce the risen Christ. I have seen the Lord!

This ought to cause us to ask the question, where did Mary’s devotion and loyalty come from? Her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little. (Luke 7:47)

Mary had been forgiven much and she knew it. This produced a great love. Therein lies our challenge – to daily remind ourselves of our BC condition; to preach the gospel to ourselves: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior; to allow that to humble us, and from that gospel humility, to spring a day of devotion to the one who set us free.

Mary Magdalene is an emblem of Jesus’ mission in the world. Each of us is. BC. AC. We are called to love the Marys in our Magdala and to allow the power of salvation in Christ to set them free.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

© 2012 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address ( on the copied resource.

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