Appearances of Jesus // Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

Images by Alyssa Marie Francis

Images by Alyssa Marie Francis

John 20:11-18

“Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni,’ which means Teacher.” -John 20:16

Mary Magdalene is the first person in Scripture to whom Jesus appears after His resurrection. She hears His first spoken words, and later on becomes the first evangelizer with her own words. She was a woman who saw and felt the darkness of Calvary, who had also felt her own resurrection of sorts. She had felt the healing hand of Christ and her soul was restored to life. Maybe this is why He chose her first. 

Maybe it was also because she went looking for Him, while the Apostles stayed locked in the Upper Room in fear. She went to the tomb for such a practical reason, to anoint His body properly. Yet this meant she was ready to face the stench of a two-day old body, covered in blood and sores, to give her Lord a proper burial. What love, what care, was in her heart. And He rewarded her faithfulness and love in such a beautiful way. 

But Mary did not recognize Him when she saw Him. I’ve always wondered how this was so. How could you not recognize Christ? Yet we do this all the time, sisters. We don’t always recognize Him working in our lives, trying to breathe resurrection into our weary bones, even if it means temporary suffering. We don’t always recognize Him in our brothers and sisters, both those who look and act differently than us or those closest to home. We don’t always recognize Him in our workplace, in our daily chores, or in our crying children. Yet He is there, waiting for us to slow down enough to open our eyes. 

Once we slow and steady our souls, we can hear Him calling our name. Mary only recognized Him when He spoke her name. Names are so powerful, they convey so much of our identity. As soon as Mary heard her name, her eyes were opened. What name will you hear? If I close my eyes to listen, I hear the names Beloved. Daughter. Woman. If you don’t know what your name is, ask Him to tell you. Ask Him to call out to you and show you your identity in Him.

However, before Christ spoke Mary’s name He first asked her, “Whom do you seek?” This is what Christ also asks each one of us, sisters. Whom do you seek? Do you seek the things of this world, or are you seeking the One who rose from the dead? Are you seeking darkness or light? 

If you are struggling heavily with something at the moment and in need of some resurrection in your life, you must first seek Him. Mary was in darkness. She had just witnessed her Lord cruelly tortured and murdered, and now His body was missing. She couldn’t stop weeping. Does it feel sometimes like Christ is silent within you, that you call out to Him but can’t find Him or hear Him? Like “they have taken away my Lord and I don’t know where they laid him?” Take Mary Magdalene as a guide and continue to seek Him. Continue to bathe His wounds by uniting everything to Him and trusting in Him, and He will find you at exactly the right moment. Seek the Light that cast out all the darkness. Then, as you walk towards the empty tomb, He will call your name.

And when we find Him, we can’t hold on to Him for just our own good. He commanded Mary to go and tell the disciples, just as we are to go and tell everyone that we have seen the Lord, and that He lives! We believe in a God of light. Christ is Risen, Alleluia! 

Reflect: Just as humanity fell in a garden, Jesus rose from the dead and restored humanity in a garden. Just as the first woman, Eve, doubted her name in the garden and listened to the serpent, Mary Magdalene listened to her identity in Christ. Whom do you listen to more in your life, the words Christ wants to speak over you, or the lies in your head about yourself?

Act: Close your eyes and ask Jesus to speak your name to you. If it’s helpful, write down in a journal the lies you believe about yourself, and answer each one with the truth. Then tell one other person to do the same, to help them see the Lord in their lives too!