Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Special Appearance

Here’s an interesting notion, but interesting is an understatement of kinds. I’ll call it fantastic. Extra-special. It speaks to the special relationship The Savior had on earth with Mary Magdalene.

Much has been written outside the church regarding the possibilities/probabilities that The Savior married her, and that they had children. The DaVinci Code comes to mind. (I haven’t read the book, nor will I, but I really liked the movie.) This isn’t to what I am alluding. Still, make your own judgments. Considering that we are taking about The Savior, let’s try to follow the spirit in such speculations.

We’re in John 20, on the third day after The Savior’s crucifixion, outside the sepulcher where he was laid:
1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
Luke 24 adds that it was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women… Here, in John 20, the specific focus is on Mary, who arrives in the very early morning after the Jewish Sabbath to…





Exactly why has Mary arrived? Perhaps to make certain his body is still secure in its location, or to simply do what most people are apt when visiting a gravesite and that is to be with and commune with the dead, which provides them with a need of comfort. Assuredly Mary was not the only such person who arrived to pay their respects. At this particular junction in the history of histories, it is Mary who arrives to make the discovery that the sepulcher has been tampered with.
2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.
3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.
4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.
5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.
6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,
7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.
8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.
9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must arise again from the dead.
10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.
Keep in mind here, the arrival of the other disciples, the men, illustrates that they find nothing other than The Savior’s missing body before returning to their homes.
11 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
She remained, inconsolable, desperate to know where his body had been taken.
12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
Did you catch that? To whom did the angels appear? Weren’t Peter, James and John and others right there at the sepulcher minutes before? And yet these brethren were not visited; t’was Mary whom they revealed themselves and this wonderful message:
13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.
14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
The Savior has now revealed himself to Mary. She doesn’t recognize him. One possibility is because as a resurrected personage, The Savior’s transformation has altered his appearance. The most likely notion that Mary and the other disciples failed to instantly recognize him is because they’re not actually anticipating his arrival, a disconnection from their faith due to their intense grief. (Do not the angels remind her and the other disciples of their failure remember to The Savior’s own words, while in the flesh, concerning his resurrection?) But The Lord is merciful to them, especially Mary, knowing what pains of the soul she suffers.



15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
Just one simple word from him, and the veil of ignorance is lifted from her eyes.
17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
Notice the first words out The Savior’s mouth after revealing himself warns Mary not to touch him. Why? Her first impulse is to rush and embrace him with all her strength.

The reason for his rebuff is spectacular: I am not yet ascended to my Father. The meaning of this could easily be elaborated on with its own essay. (I wont.) The fact of the matter is The Savior had not yet fully completed the cycle of his earthly mission, the capstone being his return to Heavenly Father. (The Savior, in case you’re wondering, had spent those days between his crucifixion and resurrection in the spirit world, organizing the missionary effort to share the gospel with those souls who had lived without it on earth.) After The Savior reports back to Heavenly Father, he returns to visit the Apostles for forty days, allowing them to touch him. He also eats with them, and teaches them, before leaving to assume his place at the right hand of Heavenly Father, thus completing their cycle as a special witness of Christ, thus qualifying them to boldly go forth and declare his divinity.

But to Mary, The Savior makes this special appearance, this very deeply loving act of mercy, to give her this wonderful joy, and uplift her grieved soul, as if The Savior could not wait to do so.

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