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Mary Magdalene and the empty tomb
Mary Magdalene, the empty tomb, and the resurrection of Jesus
John 20:1-18

Scripture reading: I Corinthians 15:1-8

As we celebrate in a special way today, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead I want to introduce you to a woman known as Mary Magdalene

Before becoming a follower of Jesus she had been inhabited by 7 demons. As such, she was a living, breathing, walking testimony to the Divine claims and power of Christ (Mark 16, Luke 8:1-2)

Note what Luke 8:1-2 says; "...Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come; Joanna the wife of Cuza; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means."

After her life transforming encounter with Jesus, she became a generous supporter of Christ's ministry Luke 8:1-2

Her story of salvation reminds us of what Christ's ministry was all about

"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair." Isaiah 61:1-3a

She was one of just a few of Jesus' followers who braved being at Jesus' crucifixion

So deep was her commitment to Christ, that though the majority of Jesus' disciples- particularly the men- were not even at the crucifixion, Mary M was there.

Hear what John 19:25 says; "Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene."

She was so devoted to Christ that following his death she went with Jesus' body to the cemetery and saw him buried

In Matthew 27:57-61 it says "As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb."

On the Sunday, while it was still dark, she went with a group of women to anoint Jesus' body

Note: No expectation for Jesus to be alive

This recorded in all 4 Gospels

Somehow, in the shadow of the cross, she, along with the rest of Jesus' disciples forgot the prophets and Christ's words regarding his resurrection from the dead

i.e Matthew 16:21; John 2, Psalm 16, etc

READ JOHN 20:1-18

OBSERVATIONS AND LESSONS from John 20:1-18 as it relates to Mary M and Jesus' resurrection

The empty tomb GRIEVED Mary Magdalene - when her response should have been JOY John 20:2,13

****The critical question of John 20:1-18 - first asked by the angels and then by Jesus himself- is "Why are crying/weeping?" v.13,15 ****

The point:

-The inference is that the empty tomb should have kicked off a party, not tears.
-The empty tomb was Christ's greatest miracle and the greatest affirmation of all of his claims and teachings.
-The empty tomb was not meant to bring tears of sorrow.
-The empty tomb was supposed to bring faith and joy- not grief

Interesting: The Pharisees had guards set over the tomb so that the disciples couldn't steal the body and then proclaim jesus was alive-- for they remembered that Jesus said that after 3 days he would rise (Matthew 27:62-66). So here the tomb is empty and instead the disciples are sad.

When we think of Christ's empty tomb- our response is to be joy-- Joy that we serve a risen Savior. Joy that because of Christ's resurrection that the Christian life is not in vain. Joy, knowing that Heaven is our home and that one day we shall see Christ with our own eyes.

The entire Christian faith hangs on Christ's empty tomb-- it's being empty is cause for joy and faith

Further: The joy of the disciples-- after they all got on the same page regarding Jesus being alive and resurrected translated into their preaching.

A reading of the sermons that the disciples preached after Jesus ascended were full of joy, faith, and power and Jesus' resurrection was at the center of it all

By his grace, mercy, gentleness, and tenderness Christ built back up the faith of Mary M-- leaving her with JOY and a rock solid conviction that he was alive and had risen from the dead

While Jesus was never shy about chiding his disciples for their lack of faith, he never left them there.

Here's what Jesus did for Mary M-- In very act of speaking her name (v.16) he opened her eyes and turned her sorrow into joy. He turned her mourning into gladness. He took her sorrow and sighing away

Again I remind of the mission of Christ as revealed in Isaiah 61 " comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."

Mary Magdalene was the first of Jesus' followers to see Jesus after his resurrection

She who was once inhabited by demons had the privilege of being the first to bear witness to Christ's resurrection


The empty tomb of Jesus is to be celebrated and rejoiced over. We serve a risen Savior!

The greatest miracle of all was the resurrection of Christ from the dead. He is alive!

The empty tomb confirms the Christian faith and all the teachings and claims of Christ. Let us worship Him!

I leave you with Philippians 4:4 "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"