THE FIRST WITNESS OF CHRIST’S RESURRECTION
“Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.” (Mark 16:9 NKJV)
Although Mary Magdalene was not one of the twelve closest disciples of Jesus, she was the first person He appeared to after He rose triumphantly from the dead, even before He ascended to His Father.
Mark records, “Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.” (Mark 16:9 NKJV).
It was a great honor and privilege for Mary Magdalene to be the first witness of the resurrection of Christ!
Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'” (John 20:16-17 NKJV).
But why would the risen Lord Jesus first appear to Mary Magdalene and not to any of His closest disciples?
What is so special about Mary Magdalene for the Lord Jesus to choose and honor her to be the first witness of His resurrection?
It is undoubtedly wisdom for us to find out!
First, Mary truly loved the Lord and was grateful to the Lord.
It is interesting to note that before Mary Magdalene met Jesus, she was tormented, oppressed, and possessed by seven demons. However, the Lord Jesus showed her mercy, cast all the seven evil spirits out of her, and restored her soul.
Afterward, Mary followed the Lord closely and served Him wholeheartedly and passionately, not for miracles as the multitude, but as an expression of her love and gratitude to the Lord (Luke 8:1-3). That was why even after the death of the Lord, she was still seeking to minister to the Lord.
What love and gratitude!
Some believers today are ungrateful to the Lord for what He has done for them, and rather than ministering to the Lord out of love and gratitude, they murmur and complain about their needs not yet met.
Many today are seeking and serving the Lord only for their selfish interests or personal gains. God is not bound to reveal Himself to us if we don’t seek Him with the whole of our hearts.
God said, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13 NKJV).
The Lord will only reveal Himself to true worshippers and seekers!
Second, Mary was one of the few faithful disciples who followed Jesus through His trial, crucifixion, and burial (John 19:25).
Mary and some women followed the body of Jesus closely, observing how He was prepared for burial and where He was laid (Mark 15:46-47).
While other Christ-followers had given up on the Lord after His death and turned back since their hope of getting more miracles from the Lord had gone, Mary Magdalene continued to follow the Lord’s body (Matt. 27:61). She was undoubtedly a faithful or an addicted follower of Christ.
Many believers today, unlike Mary, are not following the Lord faithfully, consistently, or unceasingly. If you choose to follow the Lord only when it is easy or convenient to follow the Lord, you will not grow in the revelation knowledge of Jesus.
Undoubtedly, the Lord knows and sees clearly beyond our empty professions and insincere actions into our hearts and motives. We should not expect the Lord to reveal Himself to us increasingly if we are not seeking or following Him consistently or unceasingly.
Mary became the first witness of Christ’s resurrection because she never gave up on the Lord, even at His death. She kept following and serving the Lord, even when it seems as if there was nothing more the Lord could do for her or give to her. What a faithful spirit Mary had!
Third, Mary was never tired of ministering to the Lord.
Not only did Mary Magdalene follow the Lord Jesus consistently all through His trial, crucifixion, death, and burial, Mary still set her mind on ministering to the Lord’s dead body.
Mark records, “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.” (Mark 16:1 NKJV).
Mary Magdalene was one of the few followers of Christ whose service to the Lord was not an eye-service or reward-motivated. Even when there was no promise of any rewards or noticeable gains, Mary Magdalene was one of those who would still gladly minister to the Lord.
As she had provided for the Lord’s need out of her substance when He was alive, she continued after His death. Unlike Mary, many believers in our churches today are given to eye-service, seeking to please men, gain recognition, receive applause or praise from the pastor.
Above all, the risen Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Mary first before anyone else because of her resolution or determination not to leave the tomb without seeing Jesus. Nothing else would satisfy her hunger to see Jesus apart from Jesus Himself.
Mary was not the only woman who came to the tomb to minister to the Lord’s body, but she was the only one who refused to go home, be appeased, or satisfied without seeing the Lord’s body.
The Scripture records that when other women had left the tomb since they could not see or find the Lord’s body, Mary Magdalene stayed behind weeping and still seeking for the Lord’s body.
John writes, “But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.” (John 20:11 NKJV).
Mary too had forgotten that Jesus said He would rise from the dead after three days, or perhaps she also did not believe like other disciples. But whatever the case, Mary Magdalene would not go home without setting her eyes on the Lord’s body.
It makes no difference to Mary whether Jesus was alive or dead; she was in love with the Lord. Whether Jesus could still perform miracles or not means nothing to Mary because she had made up her mind to love, worship, adore, celebrate, follow, and serve her Lord Jesus Christ with all her heart, soul, might, strength, and resources. What a resolution!
While others would only prefer to have the Jesus that could multiply bread and fish and perform mighty wonders and miracles, Mary Magdalene was pleading to have the dead body of Jesus. What a contrast!
When Jesus said to Mary, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Mary, supposing Jesus to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” (John 20:15 NKJV).
Seeing Mary’s love, passion, resolution, and determination to see Him, the risen Lord Jesus could not refrain from revealing Himself to Mary, even before ascending to His Father.
Beloved, like Mary, if you also will begin to seek the Lord Jesus wholeheartedly, single-mindedly, diligently, and passionately, the Lord will not hold back from you. Still, He will reveal Himself to you increasingly.
Why not begin today to seek the Lord with the firmness of purpose, just as Mary did?
Prayer: My Dear Holy Spirit, teach and help me to seek the Lord Jesus wholeheartedly, single-mindedly, and passionately every day of my life, in Jesus’ name. Amen.