"The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre." (John 20:1)
It was not the safest thing to do, especially for a woman — coming in the early hours of the morning while it was still dark. But then, playing it safe had never been one of Mary Magdalene's virtues. This time, however, her daring was motivated by love for the One who had changed all that and given meaning to her sad, wasted life. As she drew closer to the sepulcher, she saw with dismay that what the Pharisees feared would happen, had indeed happened. The stone had been rolled away from the entrance to the tomb, and someone had stolen the body of Jesus.
Her first thought was to tell Peter and John. They would know what to do. And when she ran to tell them what she had seen, they of course came and peered in, then finally entered. “Empty,” was their verdict. No reason to stay and risk arrest. So they left; but Mary stayed. She had great respect for Peter and John, but being the kind of woman she was, she had to see for herself.
And so, hardly able to see through her tears, she stooped and tentatively looked in. But now, at either end of the tomb, where the discarded grave clothes lay, were two young men in white. Angels? Peter and John said nothing of having seen angels! Never mind; they were someone to question about the missing Body. Before she could ask her question, however, they had one of their own.
"Woman, why weepest thou?"
What a very foolish question, she thought to herself, but she would never venture to say so. Instead, she replied, mournfully, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him."
It was then she became aware of Someone else behind her. She turned to see who it was, just as the man, too, asked, “Woman, why weepest thou?” adding, “Whom seekest thou?”
Who now was this , she wondered, with the same foolish question? The gardener, she reasoned, but it was odd that she hadn’t noticed him before. In desperate frustration, and as her heart beat wildly, she implored, "Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away."
After what seemed an eternity, she saw a tender smile begin to play at the corners of His mouth, and she wondered to herself if he questioned her love and resolve? Did this man suppose she had come this far with her Savior, and could not now somehow find the strength to carry His lifeless body to safety, if need be. Well, then, she would just leave. There was no help here for her. Jesus was gone. She had seen Him die, and there was not even a body left to mourn or commemorate. Had He died in vain? Would the sins that inhabited her past now return to invade her conscience again?
Suddenly, the Man spoke: "Mary," He said, simply. He didn’t need to say His own name, only hers.
Instantly, she was shaken from her dismal thoughts and turned to look once more at the “gardener.” There was only One who spoke her name like that. And now, never had her plain, common name sounded as sweet as it did on this first Easter morning. This Man knew her name....and she knew His.
She had come to anoint a dead body, but instead, she found a risen, death-defying Savior! He had conquered both sin and death. And so would she.
Oh, yes, there were other women at the tomb on that morning of mornings, yet, John chose to speak only of Mary Magdalene. And although others saw what Mary saw, Mark still said, “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene....” (Mark 16:9)