From Sadness to Joy

MEMORY SELECTION: “Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord.” —John 20:18

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: John 20:1, 2, 11-18

AMONG the women who witnessed the crucifixion of our Lord was Mary Magdalene. Jesus had delivered her from seven devils, and in gratitude Mary became one of his most devoted followers. Although there were many others who faithfully followed Jesus as he went about preaching, Mary Magdalene is specially mentioned by Luke. “And it came to pass afterward, that He went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with Him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils.”—Luke 8:1,2

After Jesus’ death, Mary Magdalene and some of the other women went to make ready the spices and oil, in preparation for the Master’s burial. Following the Sabbath, at the break of dawn, on the first day of the week, Mary and the other women brought the perfumed oil to the tomb.

Mary was startled to discover the tomb had been opened, and she ran off to tell the news to Peter and John. Later she returned to the tomb: “But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.” (John 20:11,12) Mary was in much sadness because of Jesus’ death, and now she was troubled to know who had removed his body from the tomb.

Events began to unfold rapidly as the angels spoke: “And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.” (vs. 13) After answering the angels, “she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.”—vss. 14,15

Mary’s complete sense of devotion to her Lord is manifest in her desire to retrieve Jesus’ body. Carrying the body would have been a particularly difficult task for her; yet she was ready to do it. But then the Master spoke her name, and she recognized the familiar voice she had known for so many months. “Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.”—vs. 16

It was not the gardener, as she had mistakenly thought. It was her Lord, he was alive, and he was risen from the dead. The Master’s voice had always brought her strength and courage—even from the time he had commanded the demons to leave her. And his voice had brought light into her life as she followed him in his ministry as a helper. Yet, the sound of his voice on this occasion must have been a most exhilarating experience. The conversation was indeed a simple one on that occasion: Jesus spoke her name, “Mary,” and she, having recognized him, answered simply, “Master.”

Jesus then said three things to Mary. First of all she must not touch him. He would not allow her to attempt to touch him as the man Christ Jesus whom she had previously known. He was now a spiritual being and had materialized only for the sake of showing his identity. He then said he had not yet ascended to his Heavenly Father. This teaches that he would present himself in due time before the heavenly throne. Lastly, the Master told her to go and bear witness to his brethren of what she had seen and that he had told her to say to them that he would ascend to his Father.

Mary left the garden and went to the disciples, as she had been told, with the joyful announcement of how she had seen the Lord and of what he had said to her.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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