It was Easter Sunday in our little church several years ago. We had decided to launch the Easter festivities in a different way. We decided to have a woman run up the center aisle of this tiny church, dressed in Biblical garb and carrying a basket of spices. It was to be a reenactment of Mary's telling the disciples that Jesus was alive.
I stood outside the church door, waiting for my cue. It was chilly outside, and my toes where cold in my sandals. The basket of spices smelled good. I waited, and rehersed my lines. I wasn't sure if I was shivering from excitement or the cold snap. There was my cue so I opened the door and ran up the center aisle of this tiny church.
The faces in the congregation were so shocked...I bet they were wondering who this crazy woman was. Their faces did not recognize me at first. I spoke to the pastor, and it went something like this:
"Brother! I have just come from the tomb...it is empty!"
"What has happened?" he asked, "Did someone take him away?"
"No, I saw Jesus, He spoke to me-He is alive!"
"You must be mistaken, you saw a gardener."
"No, I thought He was at first, until He called my name. Then I knew it was Jesus, and He is alive!"
As our conversation grew in excitement, I could feel the congregation understanding what was going on. The emotion caught on with a few and I saw smiling faces, some with some tears.
As I exited the building I stopped to tell a few more on my way out, "He is alive!" It was a great feeling, one that I won't ever forget.
I thought, what would've Mary Magdalene felt like? (John 20:1-31) It was the darkest day for her. She was going to prepare Jesus' body with spices. It had been the Passover, so they had placed him in a tomb very quickly--no preparation. She wanted to make sure he was taken care of, even in death.
But to her surprise, he was not there. Just his burial clothes. She ran to get the nearest disciples, maybe they knew what had happened. They ran to the tomb and found it empty as well. They left Mary weeping at the tomb. She was crying so much she didn't realize two angels were speaking to her from inside the tomb. When they asked her why she was weeping, she told them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." John 20:13
When she turned, Jesus was standing there, but she thought he was the gardener. She only recognized Him when He called her name. Then she knew. He told her to go tell his disciples, and she did-she told them of the whole experience.
When I think about this wonderful thing that Mary experienced, I realize two things. That Jesus revealed His resurrected self to a woman first, and that she was the first evangelist.
She makes it look very easy, and it is. It's that pride thing that gets in the way. What if I say something wrong? What if they ask me questions I don't know the answer to? Did Mary argue theology with the disciples? Did she embellish the story? No, she told them everything that happened to her in the garden--from "He called my name" to "He told me to tell you."
It's that easy. When did you meet Christ, when did He call your name? How did He change your life? Just tell of your experience with the Risen Christ. Some will think you've "got religion" and will avoid you. But those who have been searching like you, will realize you have something real and will listen.
It can be a little scary because you don't know how people will receive you. Like that tiny congregation who witnessed my attempt at recreating Mary's experience, some will "get it" and some will jot it down as another disruption to their day.
But once you realize that it is not you they are rejecting, something in your gut goes that extra mile to talk to them. The pride will melt and so will the fear.
Who do you know that needs to hear that Jesus is Risen? Who needs to hear that He is as alive as He was that very first Resurrection Day? Take the name that came to mind just now, pray about it, then seek them out and share the Good News.
I wrote about "being Mary" because I could relate. I didn't really know Jesus until He called my name one day. And you know what? He told me to tell you about it.
And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mark 16:15