3. The Risen Lord Appears to Mary Magdalene
Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rab-bo’ni!” (which means Teacher). John 20:16
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rab-bo’ni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Mary Mag’dalene went and said to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. John 20:11-18
There is so much contained in these few words, it is hard to know where to start. I have written about it in my book “Who is Jesus : What is Christ? Vol 5 Here is an excerpt.
“The text says that Mary turned and saw what she thought was the gardener. She spoke to him, presumable facing him, but then when he spoke her name John tells us she turned again. Which way is she facing now?
Turned, strepho, means more than just to turn around, it comes from the word trope which means a turning of heavenly bodies. Strepho means to change course or to have a change of mind. This would suggest that Mary was seeing different aspects of her situation, as we will when we go through these experiences personally in our consciousness.
“When she turned, Mary “saw” and the word is theoreo which means much more than saw, it means to behold and comes from the Greek theoros, a spectator. It is used of one who looks at a thing with interest and for a purpose, carefully observing all the details.
When it says she did not know it was Jesus, the word ‘know’ is eido which means to perceive and therefore indicates that she didn’t perceive the spiritual reality of the situation. It also speaks of perceiving something that has not previously been seen. This would explain why Mary didn’t realize it was Jesus in a changed state. It is interesting that she recognized the angels, and had a conversation with them, but didn’t recognize her beloved Jesus.
We might wonder why Jesus called Mary “woman,” gune, when he first spoke to her, and later called her by her name, causing her to turn again. Perhaps he didn’t recognize her either. These sacred texts will only speak to us if we ask these kinds of questions.” Kristina Kaine
Painting by Giotto (c. 1320)