I’ve been thinking a lot about Mary Magdalene recently, and by recently I mean for nearly a year. What I am discovering is that there is something so beautiful about her that I’ve been blinded to for years. The Apostle John is often celebrated for his love and devotion to Jesus, and I can see why. Those two were two peas in a pod, and their friendship is a powerful example of how we also can be in a relationship like that with Jesus. Mary on the other hand possessed a crazy passionate love for Jesus, and it’s frequently overlooked in the scriptures. This love was revealed to me while sitting at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem a few months ago.
I had the most precious encounter with Jesus that I will never forget, and these are some scattered thoughts I scribbled in my journal after hearing God’s voice at the Garden Tomb.
I sat on a bench outside (the tomb) and cried at the fact that my Jesus was laid there. My Jesus rose there. He was there! My Jesus!
Mary walked there. The disciples walked there. Joseph of Arimathea prepared His body with spices there…
What must have been going through their heads? Their leader was dead…Now what?
They all loved Him.
Mary loved Him
She waited at His tomb early according to John 20, but why was she there if Jesus was dead?
She loved Him.
She had hope.
She diligently sought Him.
When Mary arrived, the tomb was empty and she cried because she didn’t know where her Jesus was. It reminded me of the Song of Songs where the woman searched the city for her beloved and wouldn’t rest until she found Him.
Mary was love-sick
Jesus appeared to Mary first in this Gospel. Why? Because she waited and pressed in a little longer. She wasn’t leaving until she found the one she loved.
As my journal entry began, I sat on a bench outside the tomb and started weeping. I heard Jesus speak, and He said, “Shabba, I was mistaken for the gardener”. Instantly, I was reminded of this passage from the gospel of John.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? For whom are you looking?” Supposing that He was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you are the one who has carried Him away from here, tell me where you have put Him, and I will take Him away.” John 20:15
In the matter of a moment I was downloaded the most incredible revelation that Mary is comparatively like the Shulamite bride from the Song of Songs. Mary was absolutely positively sick with love.
Mary is often accused of being a prostitute and/or the wife of Jesus. I disagree completely with both of those accusations, however I am certain that Mary before anyone else, understood that Jesus desires not only our lives and devotion, but also our intimate affection for Him. Jesus called the church to be His bride; we are the church, so we (individually and collectively) are also His bride. Mary’s story captures this truth so beautifully
Let’s unpack some scripture
In John 20:1 it states that “Mary came to the tomb early while it was still dark….”. If Mary possessed a fiery, passionate love anything like that of the Shulamite woman, then it’s safe to say that she rose early to go to the tomb because she was so in love that she would not sleep until she found Him.
(Comparative scripture from Song of Songs)
On my bed by night
I sought him whom my soul loves;
I sought him, but found him not.
2 I will rise now and go about the city,
in the streets and in the squares;
I will seek him whom my soul loves.
I sought him, but found him not.
3 The watchmen found me
as they went about in the city.
“Have you seen him whom my soul loves?”
4 Scarcely had I passed them
when I found him whom my soul loves.
Song of Songs 3:1-4
What I love most about this scripture is that the Shulamite Bride does not give her lover a name. Likewise, Mary does the same in John 20 when confronted by both the two Angels and the “gardener”. It’s as if both women were shocked at the fact that others did not know who “He” was. I can imagine their reaction really went something like this, “IT’S HIM! You know… Him! The one who is so lovely and incredible!? How could you possibly not know who I am talking about?! HIM!!!!!!”
11 But Mary [who had returned] was standing outside the tomb sobbing; and so, as she wept, she stooped down and looked into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13And they said to her, “Woman, why are you crying?” She told them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” 14After saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? For whom are you looking?” Supposing that He was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you are the one who has carried Him away from here, tell me where you have put Him, and I will take Him away.”
Often in scripture we see that when one comes face to face with an angel, it is common that they fall down in fear. Mary on the other hand walked into the tomb and started conversing with two of them like it was no big deal. Why? Because she was unafraid and because the pursuit of her affection was on finding Jesus. Mary wasn’t impressed or satisfied with seeing giant angels, she wanted the real thing. Nothing else would do
She wanted Jesus!
So why did Jesus reveal Himself to Mary first?
– Because she waited
In John 20 we see that Mary went and told Peter and the one whom Jesus loved (probably John) that the tomb was empty. The two men went in, knew that Jesus was alive, and went back to their homes. Mary on the other hand remained at the tomb.
If she is anything like the Shulamite Bride, then Mary was not leaving that place until she found the one whom her soul loved. She would wait a little longer and press in a little harder.
She was hopeful.
She was in love.
She was determined to see Him.
Jesus loves when we relentlessly pursue His heart, and even more so to the extent that Mary came after Him. After realizing this amazing revelation about Mary’s love for Jesus, I was moved to run after Him with delirious and passionate love as well. Why? Because if my pursuit of Him looks anything like Mary’s, then in the end I am going to find Him, and I am going to see Him. No giving up, and no giving in. He is worth it.
13You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.