At dawn on Sunday, Mary Magdalene slipped into the cold Jerusalem morning. Her destination was the garden, where they buried Jesus. Just two days ago, she watched in disbelief and agony as He was tortured and died. She was also there with Jesus’ mother, Mary, as they took His body down from the cross and buried Him in a borrowed grave. Death did not deter her devotion. The other disciples were too afraid to surface from hiding, but not Mary. She was the first person to the tomb. She didn’t care; she had one thing on her mind—ministering to her Jesus. What could the Romans do to her now? They’d already taken away the one thing that mattered to her in the world—her Lord.
As she ran towards the tomb, oh just saying the word “tomb” caused her stomach to lurch, she remembered the first day she saw Him. He entered her village, and her world turned upside down. Everyone had heard of Him, but now she would see the One that many believed was Messiah—the Savior. Could He be? “Just one glimpse,” she told herself. She’d always heard that the Messiah would make all things new—He would heal the sick, give sight to the blind, and free the captives. She thought, “I’ve got two out of three working for me. Maybe if I just see Him, then my years of torture will end.” You see, Mary was terrorized by seven demons and her life was riddled by the destruction of the enemy. But by faith, she made her way to Jesus. She pressed through the crowds, which parted at her presence. No one wanted to associate with such an unclean, crazed woman. No one, but Jesus, that is.
Mary encountered Jesus and breathed the sweet air of freedom. She believed. “He is the Messiah—the Son of the Living God.” Revelation brought transformation. From that moment on, she devoted her life to following her Savior. Words cannot express the love she felt for him.
How can you not love the one who sets you free?
How can you not love the one who heals your body, soul, and spirit?
How can you not love the one who offers acceptance when all you’ve known is rejection?
As she hurried towards the tomb, she sighed and thought, “He cast seven demons out of me, yet didn’t spare His life from crucifixion. I’m living proof that He had the power—why did He submit to such a death?” Mary and the other disciples were slow to comprehend the reason for His death and how the news she was about to hear would change the world forever.
As Mary neared the tomb, she stopped with fright. The grave…the tomb…the stone—it was rolled away! Assuming the worst, that someone had stolen his body–she sprinted back to get Peter and John because she thought, “They will know what to do.” Gasping for air, she reported the news, “They’ve taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” Upon hearing her news, the two men sprinted ahead of her to the garden.
Mary was right. The stone was rolled away. Jesus was not in the grave. Peter and John found the strangest thing inside …His clothes were neatly folded. The scene in the tomb did not indicate a hasty body snatching. Confused, they turned and headed back to join the others. But not Mary, she stood outside the tomb crying. Jesus, her Lord, and Savior, was gone.
The past few days’ events caught up with her. She must have been in shock from watching the brutality of His death, but now with His body missing, the flood of grief poured out. With hot tears streaming down her cheeks, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels seated where Jesus’ body had been placed. John’s gospel tells us what happened next:
But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned, and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her. John 20:11-18
The scripture tells us that what occurred in the garden would forever change Mary and all who place their hope in King Jesus. Turning away from the angels, she saw a man standing before her. Assuming he was the gardener, she continued until the man spoke her name, “Mary.” Now, there would be no denying Who was speaking. She knew that voice!
That voice set her free.
That voice healed her life.
That voice gave her hope to keep living.
This was the voice of her Jesus.
“Teacher, “she exclaimed as she flung herself at him.
Could it be true?
Is it really my Lord?
How can this be?
I watched Him die, but here He is … very much alive.
As these thoughts flooded her mind, she was unaware that she was holding onto Him, too afraid to let go. Loosening her hold on Him, Jesus commissioned the woman who was once defeated by demons to declare His victory, saying, “Mary, go tell the others. I am alive!” Obediently she ran back to the disciples, becoming the first proclaimer of the resurrection. With a radiant smile, she declared, “I have seen Jesus—He is alive!”
SET FREE AND SENT.
Set free and sent. This is Mary Magdalene’s story. She experienced Jesus’s incredible power to transform a life and then He sent her to bear witness to the world that He is alive. This is also my story. As a young woman in my mid-twenties I encountered Jesus, and my world was rocked. Just like Mary, I too was imprisoned to the enemy. But Jesus was more powerful and set me free from sin, shame, and brokenness. But He didn’t stop there. Jesus healed me to send me out to proclaim His victory and to tell the world that Jesus can do the same for anyone who comes to Him.
Set free and sent is also the heart behind our annual women’s retreat, Redeemed Girl Institute. I believe God desires to gather a group of women who He will set free and send out as voices of victory.
We at Redeemed Girl believe two things: First, we know truth sets us free. Therefore, all of our resources and events are designed for women to know God’s truth and to experience Him personally. Second, we believe women play a vital role in the Kingdom of God. After all, the very first proclaimer of the resurrection was a woman. These two core truths are the reason we offer Redeemed Girl Institute (RGI) for women 18 and older. RGI is five days for you to dedicate to worshipping Jesus and growing deeper in His Word so that you, like Mary Magdalene, can proclaim His victory to the world.
I want to personally invite you to attend #RGI2017. We desire to invest in you and equip and empower you to serve Jesus in your generation. I believe God is calling forth a group of women this year who will rise and stand and show the world through their lives the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. To find out more about Redeemed Girl Institute and to register visit our website.
Marian Jordan Ellis
Our Easter Giveaway is here! To win this beautiful cross wreath from our friends at TEN : NINE Co. 1) Be sure to follow TEN : NINE Co. + @redeemedgirls on Instagram, and 3) Tag a friend under this image on our Instagram feed. Winner will be chosen Monday, April 10th.