In the wee hours of the morning Mary Magdalene went to the tomb of her recently deceased Master and friend, Jesus. The sun had not yet ruptured the horizon. When she arrived, the stone sealing the tomb, much to her surprise, had been taken away. (See John 20:1)
We know from the other gospel accounts that Mary Magdalene was not the only one there. Other women accompanied her. Yet, Mary Magdalene, in all the gospel accounts, is given center stage. Later we find out that she was also the first to meet the risen Lord.
When we take into account the culture of that time, Mary’s center stage presence at the empty tomb surprises us. A woman? Women were not even considered legally valid witnesses in a Jewish courtroom at that time. A woman like Mary Magdalene? Jesus cast seven demons out of this woman not long ago (Luke 8:2). She had a checkered past. Furthermore, if I am doing the math correctly, she was likely the youngest of this group of women who went to the tomb.
How surprising! God often chooses the things this wayward world would cast aside or dismiss. Jesus does not ride into Jerusalem on a war horse, but a donkey (John 12:14). He did not wear a golden crown, but one of thorns. He exalted himself not with a throne but a cruel cross. He did not raise up someone with power and pomp like Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea to first witness the empty tomb, rather he rose up, as his center stage witness, Mary Magdalene.
Are you feeling small and insignificant today? Are you saying to yourself God could never use little, old me to do anything of significance for him in this world? Maybe for you the empty tomb remains just that for you, empty of meaning and significance for your own life.
Consider the witness of Mary. No matter your social position, no matter your shame, no matter your age, no matter what anyone else might think about you, no matter what you think about yourself, the empty tomb was opened for you too! Please do not forget that. The resurrection is not just for the strong and powerful. The empty tomb was opened for the weak too. It might have been opened especially for those who are weak. In fact, no one will ever receive what the empty tomb signified without admitting their weakness, in the sense of that universal spiritual weakness inherent in every human being.