Simon Chan on How Mary Magdalene and the Risen Christ Show Us a Love That Will Not Let Go

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Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me … Go instead to my brothers and tell them ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”—John 20:16–17

The Resurrection is an unprecedented event in history. In the words of C. S. Lewis, it is a miracle of the New Creation. Something of which the world has had no previous experience at all has entered the old order and radically altered it. The great reversal has begun. The new wine has burst the old wineskins. Even familiar relations with Jesus in the old creation no longer suffice. Now, it seems he can only be recognized by those to whom he chooses to reveal himself.

The story of the Resurrection is also the story of human love at its best. When all else fails—even faith and hope—love comes through intact. It may be weak in comparison to divine love, but it is strong enough to move the heart of the Lover. Such is the love of Mary Magdalene.

What makes Mary’s devotion to Jesus unique may have begun early in his ministry when he cast seven demons out of her (Luke 8:1–3). Mary had known the terrifying power of spiritual enslavement and the exhilarating freedom of following Christ her teacher. Here was a Rabbi who treated women very differently. From that day, her admiration and love grew.

Mary followed Jesus to Jerusalem. When all the other disciples fled (Mark 14:50), she stood in solidarity with other women to witness his agonizing death on the cross (Matt. 27:55). Love refuses to be cowed. Love perseveres when hope is extinguished. Mary witnessed Jesus’ limp body being taken down from the cross. He was dead! But love will not give up.

She continued to follow Jesus to the point where she could go no further. The tomb was finally clamped shut. Sabbath was about to begin. She had to leave, but not without first taking note of where his body lay (Mark 15:47).

Mary could not wait for the Sabbath to be over. At the first streaks of dawn, she hurried to the tomb. Love drove her back. Perhaps all she wanted was to be with the Beloved—if only to run her hand over the cold, defiant rock that blocks the tomb’s entrance. But further dismay greeted her: The stone had been removed and the body was gone. Without a second thought, she hurried back and reported it to Peter and John.

John reached the tomb entrance first and hesitated, but Peter, true to form, barged in. The sight defied explanation, for they “still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead” (John 20:9). Peter and John tried to figure out what might have happened. They were practical men looking for plausible explanations, and finding none, they decided to leave.

But Mary lingered. She would not give up so easily. But where is he? Why? No, it can’t be—perhaps a jumble of foreboding thoughts filled her mind. Could it be the work of grave robbers? Perhaps anger welled up at the thought of unconscionable men desecrating Jesus’ body. Mary could take it no more; she broke down in tears.

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Source: Christianity Today