Last week Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome discovered the open tomb and encountered a young man dressed in white who proclaimed, “He has risen!” (Mark 16:6). The young man also told them to tell His disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.” (Mark 16:7)
Mark’s Gospel does not tell how Mary Magdalene came to be the first to see the risen Christ (Mark 16:9), so we turn to the Gospel of John for the full story:
Mary Magdalene ran back to Peter and John, but instead of repeating the young man’s message, she told them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put Him” (John 20:1-2). Mary returned to the tomb and wept. Two angels were sitting in the tomb where Jesus’ body had been, and when she looked inside they asked, “Woman, why are you crying?” (John 20:11-13)
She said, “They have taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where they have put Him.” And as she turned around, there stood Jesus – but she did not recognize Him through her tears. He asked, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” She asked him to tell her where they had taken Jesus’ body so she could go and get Him (John 20:13-15).
Then Jesus simply spoke her name, “Mary.” Instantly she turned to Him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (“Teacher” in Aramaic) (John 20:16). Jesus Himself told her to go tell “My brothers” (John 20:17). And this time she got the message right. But when she told them, they didn’t believe her (Mark 16:10-11).
Did Mary Magdalene lack credibility because of her past demon-possession (Mark 16:9)? Maybe, but how do we explain their response to the next?
Luke records the full account of two of Jesus’ followers who encountered the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus, leaving Jerusalem. Jesus joined them, though they did not recognize Him (Luke 24:13-16). Jesus asked them what they were discussing, and they told Him of the events of the past three days (Luke 24:17-24).
When they were finished, their companion rebuked them for their ignorance regarding the prophets who spoke of the suffering Messiah. So starting with Moses, He explained everything concerning Himself (Luke 24:25-27). It was not until later that evening, when they stopped for the night, that Jesus allowed Himself to be recognized by them – while breaking bread (Luke 24:32-33).
Yet Mark 16:12-13 tells us that the other disciples did not believe these two men either!
Finally, the Lord Himself appeared to all the disciples (Luke 24:36-43 and John 20:19-20). Take the time today to read these passages of scripture which describe in detail Mark 16:14 and Jesus’ appearance to the eleven remaining disciples. You now have three testimonies to His death and fourteen testimonies to His resurrection.
Will you now believe, too?