by Elli Atchison, World Vision
Mary Magdalene has always been one of my Bible heroes. I can relate to her. Meeting Jesus changed her life. The Gospel of Luke tells us that she had demons in her past. But Jesus set her free, and she loved Him deeply for it.
Though she is not officially named as one of the twelve disciples, it is believed that she was one of His companions. She traveled with Him and listened to His teachings (Luke 8:2-3). She probably witnessed many of His miracles. She was one of the few friends who stood at the foot of the cross and watched her beloved Savior suffer and die (John 19:25). And before sunrise, three days later, it was Mary who was the first to return to the tomb alone (John 20:1).
It is obvious that Mary loved Jesus so much that she just wanted to be close to Him, even after His death. When she discovered His body was missing from the tomb she stooped down at the entrance and wept. (John 20:1-11). Blinded by grief, she did not even recognize the Beloved when He greeted her. But, as you can imagine, when Mary finally realized that Jesus was alive, her joy was too much to contain. I imagine she just wanted to rush into His arms and never let go!
Jesus lovingly spoke, “‘Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news…’” (John 20:17-18).
I am sure there is a little bit of Mary in all of us. We love Jesus deeply for how He has released us from our own “demons” and changed our lives. We enjoy spending time studying his teachings. We wait to see His miracles. Through prayer we have great conversations with Him. We long to feel His comforting arms around us. We simply want to be with Him.
Every year, thousands of pilgrims flock to Jerusalem. They visit holy sites like the Garden Tomb to reflect on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. They visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is likely the site where these events took place. They come. They visit. They see. But few act upon the knowledge of what they have seen and encountered in the Holy Land.
The place where Christ was buried and rose again is no longer a garden, but a busy street. Jews, Christians, and Muslims, all live in this beautiful bustling city together, but peace is not the overarching feeling. Rather, as a result of decades of conflict, there is tension and pain.
I was convicted by a very insightful sermon I heard at my church on Easter Sunday. Our pastor, Dr. Bill Barnes, challenged the congregation to “live like you love Jesus.” You see, like Mary, we can’t just hold Jesus and keep Him to ourselves. We have to share his message of shalom (peace, wholeness) with the world.
Easter is a celebration of life! The miracle of Jesus’ resurrection and His message of eternal life must be told. If we truly love Jesus we have to live like it. Jesus showed us that love is an action, not a feeling. Loving Jesus is in “the heeding, not the holding.” It means we have to be His hands and feet to this hurting world. It means serving, giving, working, and praying. There are so many people that don’t know the good news. Don’t you think it’s time we go and show them that Jesus is alive?
The greatest privilege we have in this life is to know You.
To know You is to love You.
To love You is to obey You.
To obey You is to be Your servant.
Help us hold You in our hearts and to heed Your call serve. Let us be identified as Your true disciples by showing others the ways that You taught us to love (John 14:15). Let us proclaim the good news of Easter Sunday out into the world every day.