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Jesus could have appeared first to anyone he wanted. He could have told his mother to meet him at the tomb on Easter morning. He could have sent Peter out to rile up the boys, and could have thanked John for standing by him on Calvary. He could even have called Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin whose word would have meant more than any of the Apostles.

Jesus chose Mary Magdalene. A woman. A former demoniac.

And while it does seem that he was making a point in choosing a woman—and one whose reputation was bound up in her former demonic possession—Mary wasn’t a means to an end meant just to demonstrate the dignity of women and the value of those the world deems worthless. She was the beloved of the Lord, the one he had gazed at from the Cross.

She was also the one who planted herself at the tomb like she was ready to take up residence there.

Perhaps Peter was rallying the Eleven and John was comforting the Blessed Mother. They might have been hard at work that Easter morning, with good reason not to be at the tomb.

But Mary Magdalene couldn’t stay away. Because she had staked her life so completely on Jesus that if he was dead, she simply had nothing left. So she returned to the tomb with the myrrh-bearing women, there to anoint the body but giving the impression that she was going to stay there until her own life faded away. And when the tomb was empty and Peter and John had run to it, seen it and gone home again, Mary stayed. She stayed weeping, so blinded by her tears that she didn’t recognize the sweet gaze of the one she was mourning with gut-wrenching sobs.

It was Mary’s miserable, broken, empty life that had brought her to Jesus. It was that same brokenness that had led her back to the tomb, giving us the impression that if he was no longer in this world, she didn’t want to be, either. She was so irrational with grief that when she thought she saw the gardener, she demanded to know where Jesus’ body was, insisting that she would carry away the stiff corpse of the carpenter on her own.

And then he spoke her name.

In the tenderest tone any human voice had ever taken, he said, “Mary.” And in that word, she heard the fulfillment of every hope, every longing. She heard the love she thought had been lost forever.

“Teacher!” she cried out, and then must surely have flung herself on him, clinging to his pierced feet, perhaps, and remembering how she had wept over them as the nail still bound them to the Cross. Or maybe she forgot to be in awe of the king who had returned and threw her arms around his chest, squeezing as if her life depended on it so that he could barely gasp out a desperate, “Stop holding on to me!”

She must have been radiant with joy, her shattered heart suddenly restored and replete, racing as she felt her dashed hopes not only returned but amplified. Never had anyone been in such despair as Mary Magdalene that Easter morning and never had any joy been so complete. But there was no time to process that emotional whiplash, nor to sit at the feet of Jesus and bask in the glow of his presence. Mary had work to do.

“Go,” Jesus said. “Go and tell.”

She must have known they wouldn’t believe her. She was a woman, after all. And such a woman. Already they would assume she was hysterical; her story seemed like “delirious babbling” to them, Luke tells us (24:11). But it might be worse than that. They might assume that she was possessed again.

It doesn’t seem that she hesitated even for a moment. She didn’t ask for proof that she could bring to the others. She didn’t ask for a script. She didn’t cling to Jesus, trying to build a tent and stay in the glory as Peter had on the mount of the Transfiguration.

She went out. She proclaimed the Gospel. As Apostle to the Apostles, she brought the world the good news that death was defeated, that sin no longer had dominion, that the God-man had triumphed and begun his reign.

It’s a beautiful story from a long-ago garden. But when we truly sit with it, we recognize that it’s our story, too. We, too, were irreparably broken before Jesus stepped in before he called us by name and set us free. Like Mary, we are the beloved of the Lord. Like Mary, he longed for us from the Cross. Our brokenness draws us to Jesus just as hers did. And while we may not often weep on the ground or fling ourselves into his arms, Jesus offers a healing encounter to even the most stoic among us, one that shines the light of resurrection into the darkness of our despair.

But that isn’t the end of the story. We don’t just meet Jesus at a conference or in the confessional or in the pages of a book, smile at his love for us, and then move on. Like Mary Magdalene, we have to speak. We have to share this unimaginably good news. Even if we don’t know exactly what to say. Even if we’re quite sure we won’t be believed.

Imagine experiencing the Resurrection for the first time. Imagine the agony of Good Friday, the desolation of Holy Saturday, and then a sudden reversal—more than a reversal, a total redemption of all the ugliness you’ve ever experienced. Imagine the relief, the freedom, the earth-shattering joy running through your veins and bursting out of you in cries of “Hallelujah! He is risen!”

We may never feel that. That’s okay; faith isn’t a feeling, faith is a choice. But when we really live the misery of Good Friday (in the liturgy or in the suffering of our lives), the joy of Easter makes us want to sing, to shout, to tell the world.

This Easter season, spend some time with Mary Magdalene: on Calvary, at the tomb, in that Garden exulting over the Risen Christ, and out in the world proclaiming the Good News. Then ask the Lord to give you a heart like Mary Magdalene’s: one that longs for Jesus, that delights in Jesus, and that cries out the name of Jesus.

May the Good News of Easter make us all evangelists.