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May 2, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“After Jesus rose from the dead early on Sunday morning, the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons.”—Mark 16:9 (NLT)
Did you know that a variety of studies have shown that newborns can clearly recognize the voices of their parents, and as they get older, they can even pick their parents’ voices out of a crowd? According to one parenting site, “Around the seventh and eighth month, a fetus' heart rate slows down slightly whenever his mother is speaking, indicating that mom's voice has a calming effect. By the time they're born, babies can actually recognize their mother's voice.”
I find this to be so beautiful. The voice of the one that gave you life is the voice you most easily identify. It’s the voice that puts you at ease, provides comfort, gives you peace . . . even as an infant.
This reminds me of the interaction that took place between Mary Magdalene and Jesus after the resurrection. In John 20:1–2 (NIV), it tells us, “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!’”
You see, Mary Magdalene loved her Lord so much! Some time before the crucifixion, this woman—who contrary to popular belief was NOT a prostitute, and there is no indication whatsoever that she was a woman of ill repute before her encounter with Jesus—had been afflicted by seven demons. And Jesus cast the demons out of her! Mary’s encounter with Christ had set her free from this horrible and tormenting affliction. He had given her new purpose, new hope . . . new life.
Now you may be asking yourself, Why was Mary going to Jesus’ tomb? Mark 16:1 tells us she, along with a few other women, were on their way to anoint Jesus’ body with spices they had purchased. But when she showed up, the stone had been rolled away and His body was missing. After telling the disciples, she went back to the tomb and cried. John 20:11–15 (NIV) tells us, “As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’”
Grief stricken, Mary didn’t recognize her risen Savior standing right in front of her. Like an inconsolable child crying uncontrollably, Mary couldn’t see her tears or hear past her sadness. That is . . . until “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary’” (John 20:16a NIV). In that moment, she recognized the voice that had given her life. That beautiful voice gently calling her by name broke through the blinding grief, and immediately “she turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means ‘Teacher’)” (John 20:6b NIV).
Mary was the first to see the risen Lord, the King of glory who conquered the grave and made a way for us to experience freedom and new life. After this, we’re told that “Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ And she told them that he had said these things to her” (John 20:18 NIV).
Friends, as we prepare to celebrate Easter tomorrow, I encourage you to think about the moment He first called you by name. Think about the moment He gave you life and reflect on the fact that when He was on the cross, He was thinking of you: your face, your voice, your life. And when He rose from the dead, your name was on His mind!