John 20:11-18 The Greatest Joy is being with Christ
But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and 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 Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her. John 20:11-18.
In this episode, Jesus revealed Himself to Mary after He waited for the disciples to leave the tomb. The fact that Jesus chose to reveal Himself first to Mary, and later to His disciples spoke of the qualities that Mary possessed. Despite the ambitions the disciples displayed in the Jewish – male dominated culture, Jesus chose to reveal Himself in His resurrection body first to a woman. The Christian faith is more than just appearing industrious towards kingdom’s work, as many do put on a facet. Faith begins with the heart of love and service without ulterior motives. Ministry begins with a truthful and loving relationship with God and with others. Our commission is built upon the foundation of truth and love. Mary’s response upon seeing Jesus attested to her affinity towards the truth and love for God.
1. It is a worthy question why Jesus waited and did not appear earlier to Mary nor his two disciples? Perhaps, it was to test them by their first responses upon discovering Jesus’ disappearance which revealed their intransigent unbelief. Even though Jesus spoke of His resurrection in numerous occasions, they could not bring to remembrance what Jesus had said. Perhaps, they were overcome by sorrow and despair to be able to recall.
2. After the disciples had gone home, and when Mary was left alone to weep at the tomb, Jesus revealed Himself in His resurrection body to Mary. Why did Jesus reveal Himself to Mary and not to His disciples who were supposedly more capable in carrying out His Kingdom’s work? From what we have observed from all of Jesus’ followers, Mary seemed to have expressed the greatest devotion towards Jesus. She gave not a portion of her perfume, but the whole bottle of very expensive perfume that was normally used sparingly for special occasions; she poured the whole bottle generously onto Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. What she had was nothing short of a genuine display of worship that flowed from pure gratitude. Mary Magdalene was there supporting Jesus in his final moments and mourning his death. She stayed with Him at the cross and was there at His burial. She was the first one at the tomb while it was still dark to realize that the stone was moved away. There are sufficient reasons to believe that by virtue of her purity and love that Jesus chose to reveal Himself first to her, and later to His other disciples after His resurrection.
3. Jesus, having appeared to Mary instructed her to immediately inform the disciples of His resurrection and more importantly His imminent ascension to the Father.
1. A pure heart attracts the fellowship and the revelations of God. The presence of God or the revelations of the Spirit belongs not to the knowledgeable and capable but to those who are pure in heart and those who love God. God reveals Himself to those who are pure and those who love Him. Even though Mary was not one of the twelve, but she was the channel of revelation to the twelve concerning Jesus’ resurrection. A prominent fourth century theologian Augustine honored her as the “Apostles of the Apostles”. She was the second most important woman in the New Testament after Mary, the mother of Jesus.
What is the revelation of the Spirit? Revelation defers from that of knowledge in that knowledge has no life, whereas the revelation of the Spirit imparts peace, hope, and strength, faith and wisdom. Knowledge is knowing right from wrong, whereas revelation is encountering God as a person and possessing the conviction to do His will. God chose to reveal Himself to Mary because she was purest in the way she loved God. In other words, without purity and love, one cannot encounter Jesus and receive His impartations. True love is not all emotional, it is rooted in obedience to the commandments of God (see John 14:15).
When it comes to spiritual disciplines like prayer, fasting and reading of God’s word, we must use them correctly in order to benefit from them. These disciplines are meant to help us to do one thing: to encounter God and be filled with His Spirit of love, purity and peace. It is important to clarify the objective of spiritual disciplines as many are merely repeating their requests for God to bless them. The Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear”, referring to one that is rebellious that refuses to acknowledge God as His Lord.
2. God can transform one who was so demonized to one that is so pure. Mary Magdalene was the one that was cleansed of seven demons (Luke 8:2, Mark 16:9). People get demonized for various reasons; some due to abused by family members; some inherited curses from the culture of idolatry. It is important to separate the persona of the demonized person with the posture of his heart towards God.
1. Do you often receive revelations from the Spirit? Something’s we could do to help you become more sensitive towards God. The following disciplines would help:
a. Read the bible daily and meditate on its principles.
b. Connect with God in the Spirit and hear from Him concerning the tasks of the day.
c. Cast all your cares on God and depend on Him to help us in all our daily endeavors.
d. Worship God and praise Him for the things that He has done and about to do for us.
2. How do you derive joy out of life? Many derive joy when they get promoted or when they received a raise. These, no doubt are the blessings of God. However, true enduring joy comes when we sense God’s approval of life and when we hear Him say, “My good and faithful servant!”
Dear Lord, I want to be able to converse with you, to see you, to feel your emotions and to touch you. Fellowship with You is the most fulfilling thing in the world. Reveal more and more of Yourself to me. Amen.