In his sermon, The Heavenly Discourse between Christ and Mary, 17th century theologian Richard Sibbes explained that it was love that moved Jesus forward throughout the entirety of His earthly ministry:
“The same love of Christ that drew Him from heaven to the womb of the virgin, from the womb of the virgin to the cross, and from the cross to the grave […] moved Him to reveal Himself after He was risen from the grave to them that […] wonderfully loved him.”
In the post-resurrection appearances, the Scriptures highlight new revelations of Jesus’ love for His disciples. Jesus could have chosen to reveal Himself only once to the entire band of disciples prior to the ascension. That would have been sufficient to make them witnesses of His resurrection glory. However, He chose to reveal Himself to them repeatedly to teach them new depths of His love for them and to draw out of them new expressions of their love for Him. The first of these appearances is among the most significant.
On that first Easter morning, Mary Magdalene sat outside of the empty tomb, weeping. Perhaps she stayed out of a sense of abandonment and desperation; perhaps out of a sense of expectant hope. Whatever her reasons, of this much we can be sure: Mary stayed out of love for Christ. It was love for the Savior who had first loved her and had redeemed her that kept her at the tomb weeping and seeking. Mary longed to be with Jesus; and love always produces longing.
Mary’s longing to be with the Savior was so strong that she even disregarded the angels that appeared to her (John 20:12-13). The normal response of such a revelation is fear and awe. Mary was different. Her heart was consumed with love for Christ to such a degree that her longing to find Him caused everything else to fade from sight.
When Jesus finally revealed Himself to Mary, He did so by tenderly calling her by name. Here was the Good Shepherd, calling one of His own by name (John 10:3). Jesus loved Mary, whose life had been wrecked by the bondage of sin. He assured her that He would never leave her nor forsake her—that He would love her to the very end.
The longing of the hearts of those who have been redeemed by the dying love of Jesus will never be frustrated. No matter how much despair, desperation, and disappointment may, at times, seem to take ownership of our hearts, the risen Jesus reveals Himself to us in new and powerful ways. He is intent on reminding us of how greatly He loves us, and on assuring us that our longings to be with Him are never in vain.
Written By Nick Batzig