How do you respond to Jesus? Would you respond differently if he called you by your name?
I’ve been thinking a lot about Mary Magdalene lately. Especially her experience on that first Easter morning that took place just a moment ago. You remember how it went—on the third day, at the crack of dawn, at the first possible moment, Mary Magdalene and a few other women went to Jesus’ tomb with their spices and oil to minister to his body. To their utter dismay, they discovered the tomb was empty.
And Mary was frantic: A man spoke to her and asked her, “Woman—why are you so upset?” “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him.” (John 20:2)
She assumed the fellow was the gardener, and asked him if he had taken the body. Then Jesus revealed himself to her simply by saying her name, “Mary” (v. 16). Oh how sweet that must have sounded.
When Jesus simply addressed her as “woman”—Mary didn’t recognize him. Any woman could be addressed that way. But when he spoke her name—her name—her heart must have stopped and leapt and burst all at the same time!
She recognized Jesus when she heard her name coming out of his mouth. How would he have said it?
Depending on how someone speaks your name—you can tell what's coming. When I was young and got in trouble, my mother would use my full name. Stasi Eileen Morris—get in here!
When my sons were in trouble—big trouble—I wouldn’t always use their full names but by the way I said it they knew what would follow. Well actually, in the heat of the moment, I was never too good with names. Whichever son’s name I was reaching for would usually come last. I’d use every other name—sometimes even the dog’s before I got to them—Samuel, Blaine, Oban—Luke!
Did your parents do that to you? Rebecca Marie Jones! Christina Ann Smith! Or how did it sound when your name was spoken with gratitude? How did your parents say your name?
What about how a person’s name sounds when spoken by one who adores her? John can say my name in many ways—but my name is always safe in his mouth. He loves me. No one says my name like he does.
And Jesus—Jesus who calls you by name—how does he say it? Your name is always safe in Jesus’ mouth. He loves you.
Jesus loved Mary Magdalene. He spoke her name. And her response? She fell at his feet and worshiped him. Just stay with that moment for a second. She saw him crucified. She watched his broken and bloodied body be wrapped and laid to rest in a tomb and now she has come to anoint his body with herbs and spices and he is gone. Did Mary understand what Jesus had said about rising from the dead? Maybe—maybe not. But her first thought in this moment—is that his body has been stolen. And not by those who love him. She is panicking. And then Jesus is standing before her—fully alive. Fully himself. Speaking her name.
Oh, what a sound. Oh, what a moment.