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 Featured Teaching

Why Did Jesus Reveal Himself First To Mary Magdalene?

August 8, 2003

Featured Verse: “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass” (Psalms 37:7).

In John 20:1-18 we find that Jesus, after His resurrection, first revealed Himself to Mary Magdalene. “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulcher. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth and that other outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulcher. And he stooping down (kneeling and humbling himself) and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulcher, and seeth the linen (not grave) clothes lie, And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulcher, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and say unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not: for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father: and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.”

Here we see that Mary Magdalene, early while it was still dark, sought Jesus. She went to where He was buried. When she arrived she saw that the stone had been taken away. She then returned and told Peter and John and they ran to the tomb and saw that Jesus was no longer in it. The two apostles, including the one whom Jesus loved most, then went away to their own house, but Mary Magdalene stayed.

Why did Jesus first reveal himself to Mary Magdalene? Some have said that it is another example of Jesus using the least. The commentary in the Full Life Study Bible for this verse reads, “The first person whom Jesus appeared to after His resurrection is Mary. She was not a particularly prominent person in the gospels yet Jesus appears first to her rather than to any of the outstanding leaders among the disciples. Throughout the ages Jesus manifests His presence and love especially to those who are ‘least’. God’s special people are the unknown, those who, like Mary in her grief, maintain a steadfast love for and a devotion to their Lord.” Certainly this is true. However, as always, there is more.

The simple answer is that Jesus revealed himself to Mary Magdalene because she was there. This is hardly a profound statement and at first glance is humorous.

Let us take another look at this. Jesus revealed himself to Mary Magdalene because she was there. When Jesus appeared to her He asked her “Whom seekest thou?” Mary was the only one that was there because she was the only one who was seeking Jesus. She was the only one who was waiting on Jesus.

Waiting on God is the highest call that a believer can have. It is the summary and essence of a Christian’s walk with the Lord. When we wait upon Him we trust in Him wholly. We trust Him to be our provider and our sustainer. Our faith is perfect, and we know that He will keep us in all ways. Waiting on Him requires a perfect love for Him. It requires willingly being submissive and obedient. Waiting totally on God is the ultimate form of praise and worship. Waiting on God is the ultimate form of prayer. Waiting on God is the essence of being a Christian. It is the pinnacle of a believer’s life.

Jesus appeared to Mary because she was there at the tomb waiting on Him. No one else was. Peter and John ran to the tomb with her. They saw the same things that she saw yet they left. They left mainly out of fear. They were afraid that the same fate that had just occurred to their leader would happen to them. When you wait on God you should have no fear, no pride, and no self. Your self has died, your flesh has died, and your spirit controls your soul totally. These disciples could not wait on God. They had been with Him through His entire earthly ministry. Sadly even the one He was closest to, even the one whom He loved most, could not wait on Him. They left even though John “believed”. In verse 8 we read, “And he (John) saw and believed.” John was the one who at the Last Supper had placed his head on Jesus’ heart. Here he learned of Jesus. Here he learned of Jesus’ love. Here he lost himself in Jesus. This was the same as when God put Moses in the cleft of the rock for the rock is Jesus. John was in Jesus’ bosom with head on Jesus’ heart. John believed, but John still had not learned to wait on God. He and Peter went away to their own home.

This left Mary to wait alone on God, to wait alone for Jesus, but there she stayed. She sought Him in the darkness, but she stayed when it was light. She stayed, she worshipped, and she waited on God. Yes she cried, but she stayed and waited on God. Jesus revealed Himself to her first because she was there and the others were not. The others had left.

We read later that on the Day of Pentecost a hundred and twenty individuals received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Yet Jesus commanded five hundred to go to Jerusalem and wait for Him; however, only one hundred and twenty did. Three hundred and eighty said no to Jesus. They said no and they went their own way to their own home. They missed this wondrous blessing. They missed fulfilling their call and commission. They missed receiving the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus had promised them. They did not wait on God. They went home and missed it.

Mary Magdalene stayed. She waited on God. The others did not. Even though Peter and John saw the same thing that she did, shared the same experience that she did, and even though John believed they did not stay. They did not wait upon God.

Jesus will honor His Word. He will reveal Himself to those who wait upon Him. He will fulfill every promise that He has made to those who wait on Him. He will comfort those who wait upon Him. He will be everything to those who wait upon Him.

Our relationship with Jesus is an interesting and dynamic one. It is always and ever changing. By necessity it has to. As we begin our walk with God our relationship is one of purely or mainly receiving. We need to grow in Christ. We need to receive from Christ in order that we may progress in our walk with Him so that we may become more like Christ. In the beginning of our walk we cannot give much back to God. This is to be expected and satisfactory. We are to ask in prayer for all that we need. This is the beginning of our prayer life. And God has commanded us to do this. Therefore it is appropriate. But, as we progress in our walk with God He wants us to move forward. He desires that our prayer life move forward as well. For example, we are to progress from asking to seeking to knocking to coming into His presence. At each step we develop a closer and more intimate relationship with God. At each step we are not only able to receive from God, but we are able to give ourselves more to God. God desires to have a relationship with us. A relationship is not one sided. It is a give and take relationship. God desires to receive from us. He delights in us. We can touch Him (please see previous teaching We Can Touch The Heart Of God). We can comfort God. This is the mature relationship that God desires. A parallel is seen in the life of children. As a newborn infant they can only receive what the parent gives them. Yes they do give the parent great joy and the parent can receive from the nurturing that they give the infant. As the infant becomes a child and the child then becomes an adolescent and the adolescent then becomes an adult the relationship changes with the parent at each step. The child is able to give more and more in a progressively more mature relationship to their parents.

The same is with our relationship with God. I’m sure none of us will forget our first touch from God. I know that I will not forget the first time Jesus touched me. I have longed and still do long for that touch. I long to go into His presence. I long to feel His loving arms as He places them around me. I long to receive from Him. I long to feel His love. I long to know Him.

As awesome and wondrous as this is there comes a time that our relationship must change and progress even beyond this. There comes a time when we need to seek God not for ourselves but to seek Him for His good pleasure. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13). There comes a time when we need to go beyond seeking to receive from God. We should progress to the point where we ask God what can we do for Him. We should progress to the point where we ask God how may we bless Him.

To worship Him we must come into His presence. There in the Holy of Holies we become one with Him. When we are in His presence and inhale with our breath we breathe Him in. When we exhale He removes ourselves from ourselves. Oh how I long for God encounters like this. Bu, the essence of worship is at an even greater level than this. His call is for all of us to reach this level. His call is for us to come into His presence. Not that we may receive from Him; rather it is for His pleasure. We have no motivation for ourselves. We come into His presence for Him, for His benefit, for His enjoyment, for His good pleasure. The sooner we can do this than the sooner we can enjoy the true depths of Christ in a way that a few, so few, have done before. When we come to Him in this way we will know Him in a way that few have. This is His desire for all of us.

Mary Magdalene knew this. It wasn’t hope that led Mary up the mountain to Jesus’ tomb. It was devotion, honor, and worship. She expected nothing in return. What could Jesus give her? What could a dead man offer? She was not climbing a mountain to receive she was going to the tomb to give herself. Max Lucado in Grace For The Moment adds “That there is no motivation more noble”.

This is the intimacy that Jesus really desires with all of us. He will absolutely and unconditionally honor this. He will honor this by revealing Himself to those who seek Him at this level in way that He would not with anyone else. They, the true worshippers who worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, will therefore know Him as few others have. They will know Him in a more intimate level than others.

Jesus honors us when we seek Him for His pleasure and His pleasure alone. Mary Magdalene did this when she went to the tomb and Jesus honored this by coming to her. He revealed Himself to Mary first because Mary sought Him at this level. The others did not and Jesus did not reveal Himself to them in this way. Mary Magdalene did. And Jesus chose to reveal Himself to her. She was the first one that He revealed Himself to after the resurrection. Why? Because she sought Him for His good pleasure expecting no gain for herself or no reward for herself.

Jesus revealed himself to her first because she was there. She stayed and waited upon Him. The greatest call a Christian can have is to wait on their beloved Lord and Savior. When Jesus calls will you seek Him as Mary did? Will you stay and wait on Him as Mary did? Or will you go home as Peter and John did? Will you go home as the 380 did? Or will you honor the Lord and wait upon Him? The Word declares, “…for them that honor me I will honor and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed” (I Samuel 2:30).

The Lord will ask you today, will you wait on Him so that He may show himself to you first? Will you seek Him in a new level and depth of intimacy that you have not before? Will you seek Him not to receive anything, but will you seek Him just for His good pleasure, for His enjoyment, for His benefit expecting nothing in return? Or will you go home because you feel you have better things to do? The Lord says I set before you today life or death. Choose one. I would ask all of us to choose wisely.

Glory Be To God!

In His Service,

Craig Morgan

My prayer is that the Lord has used this teaching to bless you in some way. If it has, please feel free to copy or forward to others.

Message of Salvation: Do you know Jesus? Are you saved or born again? If you were to die today do you know if you would be going to heaven? If you have answered no to these questions please click HERE to obtain further information about the Message of Salvation!

Message of Rededication: Are you where you want to be in your walk with the Lord? Do you have a personal realtionship with Jesus? Do you really know God? Or do you just know of Him? If you are not where you believe that you should be in your relationship with the Lord, or if you were at one time, but are not now, please click HERE for the Message of Rededication!



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