When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. (Mark 16:9 NIV)
We have an old saying that “things sometimes take a turn for the worst” … but sometimes things, even bad things, can take a turn for the best.
Mary of Magdalene was looking at the cross, weeping. Her closest friend who rescued her from more than one bad situation was hanging on a cross dying before her very own eyes. The man on that cross may have been the only kind person in Mary’s life. She suffered abuse from many in her life of prostitution prior to meeting this Jesus of Nazareth. He showed her kindness and respect. He showed her love when everyone else in her village scorned her. He freed her from her demons – literally. And now, he was dying in front of her.
Mary, along with a few other women, lingered in horror-stricken sadness before the cross. The others who followed him all fled away in fear for their lives. Mary wasn’t going anywhere; there was no place for her to go anyhow. Life had taken a turn for the worst, and the devastation was almost unbearable as she, along with Jesus’ mother and one faithful disciple named John, sat in silent tears. Hope drained away with the life of their beloved Rabbi dying before them. “How could this be happening?” she wondered.
The Bible tells us that early on the first day of the week Mary went to the tomb with embalming supplies in her hand. She would care for her beloved Rabbi as he had cared for her during his lifetime. It was her turn to give back. As she headed to the tomb, she wondered who would open it for her – the rock closing his cave was far too large for a couple of women to move. To her surprise, the tomb was open and an angel of God was sitting on the right side of where Jesus had been laid just prior to Sabbath! “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.” (Mark 16:6 NIV)
Could it be? Could He actually be alive? Could the horror of the weekend be taking a turn for the best? Just then, Jesus appeared and showed himself FIRST to Mary Magdalene. It’s True! He’s Alive! She clung on to him so tightly he finally told her to let go of the bear hug, for he had much to do before heading up to his Heavenly Father.
Mentors, your protégé’s life may have taken a turn for the worst multiple times. They may be having some of the same questions that Mary had at the cross. They may be wondering how life could become so hard so fast. Be reminded today that what was true for Mary is also true for them. Jesus loves them equally as much. He freed them too. He is filled with love, kindness and respect towards both of you. You are some of his favorites…. Most importantly, He is alive and ready to show himself through you to your protégé. As a mentor, there may be times when you feel like you are the one hanging on a cross suffering. Be encouraged! It was through Christ’s suffering that things took a turn for the best! Let Jesus give you a bear hug today.
By Ken Merrifield