Mary, Mary


“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.

‘Woman,’ he said, ‘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.’

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher).”

I sent out a mass text to my friends tonight.  The question?  What is your interpretation of why Mary Magdelene didn’t know Jesus until He said her name at the empty tomb? (not verbatim)

I got lots of different responses.  The majority, though, was that she was stressed.  She just didn’t recognize Him.  I get that.  I do.  My next question back to them was this:  But it says “She turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize it was Jesus.”  She had a short conversation with him.  He addresses her as, “Woman” and asks why she’s crying and who she’s looking for.  It also says she thought He was the gardener.  The instant, though, that He says her name, she screams “Rabboni!”

It was Jesus.

She knew.  He said her name, and she knew.  They had spoken right before that.  She looked at Him.  She heard His voice.  But when He said her name, she knew.

Why?  What was it about him saying her name?  I honestly don’t have a clue.

I know that death is a high-stress time.  Sometimes you’re not totally with it.  Sometimes even when you’re having a conversation with someone, you might not realize what you’re saying or remember it later.  I’ve been there.  Heck, death doesn’t have to be involved and still I sometimes don’t remember I’ve talked to someone or remember anything about the conversation.

I get it.  I really do.  But what is it about hearing someone you love, someone you’ve shared part of your life with, say your name?  The sound is always sweeter coming from those who are dear to you.  Let’s face it.  Julie is a pretty popular name.  I’m probably not going to turn around unless I recognize the voice of the one who calls.  But sometimes when someone you love says your name, you just wake up.  Mary thought all hope was lost and then He, the one who came to heal the broken in this world, said her name.  Hope was restored, not just to her, but to the world.

Maybe, as one of my friends said, she was looking so hard for Jesus, and even though He was right there, she missed the obvious.  He was right in front of her.  The One she had been searching was right there, calling her name.

I’m interested in discussing this with you.  Please comment.  Let me know what you think.  Like I said above, I really don’t know.  But I definitely want to know what you all think!

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  • rojopaul

    Wow. This was great and I know what you mean. When you are at the market or Chuck E. Cheese and your child hollers “MOM!” you know that voice – of all the kids screaming “Mom,” somehow you know when it’s your child and it’s meant for you. I wonder if Mary was so sorrowful she was just numb and just going through the motions – on autopilot, if you will. But when HE said her name, her eyes were suddenly opened and she then recognized Him. Maybe it was the love that just poured out when He said her name. Mary. It makes me yearn to look at Jesus and hear Him speak MY name in love. JODI. Wow.

  • Debbie

    I imagine that it wasn’t only that she heard the word of her name, but the tone, the inflection, the emotion with which He said it. Imagine how Jesus was feeling toward Mary at the time. Excitement, anticipating the very next moment of revelation? Joy, that this lady who was special to Him would be among the very first to witness His resurrected body? Tenderness and unabashed love? What else? How many emotions could Jesus have conveyed to her in that one, simple word? 🙂

    • How many emotions convey when you speak your sons’ names whey they’re hurt, excited, not feeling well, etc? I’m with you on this.

  • Kathy

    As always, I like what you have to say.I was intrigued by the questions you asked, so I opened my Bible and read John 20. Verse 1 says she went to the sepulcher while it was still dark…then she ran and told Peter and John the tomb is empty…then they ran back to the tomb together…then they left her alone to cry…she has seen so much the past 3 days…her Lord was beaten and His body has been stolen and her friends have walked back to their homes. She stands alone crying, maybe its still dark, maybe dawn. Suddenly she sees two angels who want to know why she is crying and a man appears behind her. There she is in total exhaustion…total despair…total confusion…until He says her name. Isn’t that where we have all been at one time? I remember that place… standing in the dark alone my friends had left. I found myself in total exhaustion…total despair…total confusion…and then, He said my name. Thank you Jesus for saying my name. I love you.

    • How lucky are we? Right?

  • I don’t have any idea. I used to think that his resurrected body looked different than he did in real life. If that were true, then she wouldn’t recognize him because he looked different. That would seem to explain the reason he was not recognized on the road to Emmaus. However, I had a discussion with someone about that recently and I’m not so sure about that thought anymore. I honestly don’t remember why they said that thought didn’t make sense, but I was convinced enough to now not be sure.
    I doubt the idea of emotional distress causing her to not recognize him. I guess it is possible, but it doesn’t seem likely. Even if we go with emotional distress for her, what about the road to Emmaus? How do we explain that?

    • The only argument I have about Emmaus is hat it says “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.” It almost makes me think that the whole thing of them not recognizing him was on purpose, part of a plan. Not that it wasn’t with Mary, but it didn’t say anything in the scripture about her eyes being opened. It said that He said “Mary.” And then she recognized Him.

      The stress line of thinking is one I tend to lean more towards. I’ve been under huge amounts of stress and have had conversations with people during those days and couldn’t tell you who I was talking to or what I said. I can see it. I just think that maybe there was something more.

      Thank you for the comment! Love ’em!

      • I forgot about the “opened” their eyes part. That does make sense.
        As far as emotional distress, I guess each person reacts differently to what is going on in their lives. So it tells us something about her and her heart. She was really all in with her life. She invested her entire self in what she was doing. She left herself open and vulnerable to the world. That’s what drove her to the tomb that day. That is what makes her such a memorable and relate-able person. I so rarely do that. Interesting thoughts.

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  • I’m with Debbie…I think it was more than the stress she would’ve been feeling and I think it was something other (or more) than Jesus having a changed countenance. I think Mary was probably so caught up in her grief and so focused on “what am *I* going to do now?” and everything that could’ve gone along with Jesus dying (doubt, failure of a ministry for lack of its leader, personal loss, etc.) that she just couldn’t see beyond those things…until Jesus spoke her name.

    There’s just something about hearing YOUR NAME spoken aloud…and especially so when spoken by someone who knows you and loves you. I have a dear friend who often punctuates his conversations with me by liberally sprinkling my name among the words of wisdom that are pouring out–I can’t even begin to tell you the depth that it adds to everything else he says. Why? Because it reassures me that he KNOWS me…he knows all-too-well my sometimes-not-so-lovely heart and my failings and my quirks and my various bits of ickyness, but I hear the love and understanding and acceptance (and even a bit of laughter sometimes!) in the sound of my name.

    And he’s only a human…limited. Imagine what it would be like to hear JESUS speak your name! Jesus who knows everything–EVERYTHING–about you…and loves you with unlimited love. That had to cut through all of the grief and doubt and fear and just bathe Mary in pure love. (Definitely a “wow” moment, Jodi!) Looking forward to the day when it’s my turn…and grateful that I have people this side of heaven who echo Jesus in human form. Our words have such power.

    • “Looking forward to the day when it’s my turn…and grateful that I have people this side of heaven who echo Jesus in human form. Our words have such power.”

      So True

  • Anonymous

    Another powerful post, especially regarding the power of the audible word. This really touched me because both my parents are dead – my mother passed away almost seven years ago. Recently, my wife and I were cleaning out some stuff and came across our wedding video. We popped it into the VHS to watch with our girls. It was one thing to see my parents silently moving at the wedding ceremony, but I was completely taken aback when I heard my mother’s voice on the video recording at the reception.

    It was surreal. I hadn’t heard that voice in years, but it instantly took me back to the days of my childhood when her voice was so common that I took it for granted – isn’t that what kids do???

    It’s a similar type of experience when I smell a certain variety of lilac that used to grow outside our home. That scent is forever imprinted on my mind and is a high-speed shortcut to those carefree days of summer as boy growing up.

    Hearing her voice on the video had a similar effect, but it was tinged with a bit of sadness regarding the loss. Still that doesn’t mean I’ll stop smelling the flowers.

    • Wow. That is a great story. I am sorry for the loss of your parents. Isn’t it great, though, the memories that come back and surprise us? Smells, colors, sights, words and hearing their voices can mean so much. I can’t wait to read your post!

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