Miryam’s Mistake

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The Woman Who Loved Yeshua

Topic:  Miryam of Magdala at the Garden Tomb
Theme:  The “Conversion” of Miryam of Magdala
Proposition:  The vision of the glorified Messiah makes a willing servant
Text:  Yohanan 20:1-18

Scripture Reading:

John 20  1Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Miryam from Magdala went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she came running to Shim`on Kefa and the other talmid, the one Yeshua loved, and said to them, “They’ve taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him!”

3Then Kefa and the other talmid started for the tomb. 4They both ran, but the other talmid outran Kefa and reached the tomb first. 5Stooping down, he saw the linen burial-sheets lying there but did not go in. 6Then, following him, Shim'on Kefa arrived, entered the tomb and saw the burial-sheets lying there, 7also the cloth that had been around his head, lying not with the sheets but in a separate place and still folded up.

8Then the other talmid, who had arrived at the tomb first, also went in; he saw, and he trusted. 9(They had not yet come to understand that the Tanakh teaches that the Messiah has to rise from the dead.) 10So the talmidim returned home,

11but Miryam stood outside crying. As she cried, she bent down, peered into the tomb, 12and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Yeshua had been, one at the head and one at the feet. 13“Why are you crying?” they asked her.

“They took my Lord,” she said to them, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14As she said this, she turned around and saw Yeshua standing there, but she didn’t know it was he.

15Yeshua said to her, “Lady, why are you crying? Whom are you looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you’re the one who carried him away, just tell me where you put him; and I’ll go and get him myself.”

16Yeshua said to her, “Miryam!”

Turning, she cried out to him in Hebrew, “Rabbani!” (that is, “Teacher!”)

17“Stop holding onto me,” Yeshua said to her, “because I haven’t yet gone back to the Father. But go to my brothers, and tell them that I am going back to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”

18Miryam of Magdala went to the talmidim with the news that she had seen the Lord and that he had told her this.

Introduction

Yohanan was the disciple whom Yeshua loved. Throughout his Gospel account Yohanan continually refers to himself by that title — not as a matter of self-pride, but rather as a point of identification — though it was certainly no small matter to be loved by Messiah Yeshua.

In all of the four Gospel accounts, it is Yohanan and Kefa whom we see as pre-eminent among the disciples.

  • Yohanan and Kefa, along with their two brothers, were the first of the disciples to be called;

  • Yohanan and Kefa were two of the three disciples to whom Yeshua was revealed in His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration;

  • it was Yohanan who reclined against the Lord’s breast at the place of honor during the final Passover meal;

  • it was Yohanan and Kefa who, as we shall see, were the first of the disciples to witness to the resurrection;

  • it was Yohanan and Kefa who together performed the first healing miracle after Ruach HaKodesh had come on the Day of Pentecost;

  • it was Yohanan the Beloved to whom the glories of the Revelation of Yeshua HaMashiach and His Kingdom was given on the Isle of Patmos; and

  • it was Yohanan to whom the dying Yeshua entrusted the care of His blessed mother.

Surely Yohanan was the disciple whom Yeshua loved. But it was Miryam of Magdala, or Mary Magdalene as she has come to be known, who pre-eminently loved Yeshua.

Though some have suggested that Miryam was of immoral character, there is no scriptural evidence for that accusation — other than the recognized fact that immorality is a frequent result of demon possession, and Dr. Lukas tells us that Messiah had cast out seven demons from Miryam.

The resurrection narrative, however, demonstrates to us the deep love that Miryam had for the Master.

First of all, let us observe Miryam’s ...

Anxiety over the crucified Lord

Verse 1 of our text tells us that Miryam got up very early in the morning, long before daylight, to come to the tomb.

We might do well to consider why it was so important for her to come to the tomb. The other Gospel writers tell us that she had been with the other women at the foot of the cross during all of Messiah’s agony, and that she had been there later that Friday afternoon when Yosef from Ramatayim and Nakdimon had come to take the body of the Lord to the family tomb in Yosef’s garden behind his house.

She had watched while Yosef and Nakdimon carefully coated His body with a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes, which were held in place by the linen grave wrappings. Yohanan tells us that this is the burial custom of the Jews.

Miriam of Magdala had been with the other Miryam as they had watched the body of Yeshua properly embalmed and laid to rest in Yosef’s new tomb.

What was the nature of Miryam’s anxiety that caused her, and the other Miryam, and Shlomit, and perhaps also Yochanah, to arise before daylight to bring additional embalming spices with which to anoint the Sacred Body?

Yohanan tells us only that Miryam came early to the tomb and found the stone rolled away, but the other writers give us more information:

And when the Sabbath was over Mt[as it began to dawn], Miryam of Magdala, and Miryam the mother of James, and Shlomit, bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. And very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”

And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away Lk,Jn[from the tomb], although it was extremely large. (Matt 28:1; Mark 16:1-4; Luke 24:1-2; John 20:1)

And when they entered the tomb, Lk[they did not find the body of the Lord Yeshua], but they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. And Mt[the angel] said to them, “Do not be amazed; Mt[for I know that] you are looking for Yeshua the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen Mt[just as He said]; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Kefa Mt[that He has risen from the dead;], He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He said to you; Mt[behold, I have told you.]” (Matt 28:5-7; Mark 16:5-7; Luke 24:3)

And it happened that while they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling apparel; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And they remembered His words. (Luke 24:4-8)

And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. (Mark 16:8)

And so Miryam of Magdala ran and came to Shim`on Kefa, and to the other disciple whom Yeshua loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” (John 20:2)

In Miryam’s anxiety over the missing body, she failed to hear the message of the angels: “He is not here. He has risen from the dead.” We dare not find fault with Miryam, because we, too, so often allow our own anxieties blind us to the resurrection message. He is alive. He is victorious over sin; He is victorious over death; He is victorious over the grave; He is victorious over Satan; He is also victorious over those things which cause us such great concern in our daily lives!

In Miryam’s anxiety over the empty grave, she could not hear the angels’ message. She could hear only her own ...

Disappointment over the empty tomb

John 20  2So she came running to Shim`on Kefa and the other talmid, the one Yeshua loved, and said to them, “They’ve taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him!”

Miryam had come to the tomb in search of a dead Lord. Instead she found an empty grave.

And so it is often with us that our disappointment is God’s appointment.

So often we seek that which we want so desperately to find, and when God provides us with something far greater than our wildest hopes, we are so caught up in our disappointment that we, for a while, fail to see God’s hand of blessing.

Yeshua HaMashiach was absent from the tomb not so that Miryam would fail to find a dead friend and teacher, but that to her far greater heart’s satisfaction, she would find a resurrected and glorified Lord and Savior.

Her momentary disappointment, however, was so great, that she was blinded by her ...

Sorrow over her assumed loss

Verse 2 tells us that in her disappointment and sorrow, Miryam ran from the garden back to the city to find Kefa and Yohanan, and told them that the Lord’s body was missing. The distance from the tomb to the area of the city in which the upper room was located is only about a mile or less through the twisted streets of the old city of Jerusalem.

When she found Kefa and Yohanan and told them the news, the scriptures tell us how they ran back to the garden to see for themselves the empty tomb, and how when they saw the empty grave clothes, the two of them believed.

John 20  3Then Kefa and the other talmid started for the tomb. 4They both ran, but the other talmid outran Kefa and reached the tomb first. 5Stooping down, he saw the linen burial-sheets lying there but did not go in. 6Then, following him, Shim'on Kefa arrived, entered the tomb and saw the burial-sheets lying there, 7also the cloth that had been around his head, lying not with the sheets but in a separate place and still folded up.

8Then the other talmid, who had arrived at the tomb first, also went in; he saw, and he trusted. 9(They had not yet come to understand that the Tanakh teaches that the Messiah has to rise from the dead.) 10So the talmidim returned home,

11but Miryam stood outside crying. As she cried, she bent down, peered into the tomb, 12and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Yeshua had been, one at the head and one at the feet. 13“Why are you crying?” they asked her.

“They took my Lord,” she said to them, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

Kefa and Yohanan had run on ahead to the tomb, had seen the evidence of the resurrection, and had apparently missed Miryam on their way back to the city. Coming back to the garden after Kefa and Yohanan had already gone home, Miryam stood as one bound to that tomb by the cords of faith and love. So intense were her desires, so deep was her disappointment, and so blinded were her eyes by her sorrow, that her discussion with the angels never seemed to awaken in her mind the slightest suspicion that the Lord was actually risen.

Just like Miryam, it is possible for us to be so overwhelmed with our imagined loss that we fail to grasp God’s greatest blessing being poured out on us.

In Miryam’s grief and sorrow and disappointment, she made a great ...

Mistake in her perception

14As she said this, she turned around and saw Yeshua standing there, but she didn’t know it was he. 15Yeshua said to her, “Lady, why are you crying? Whom are you looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you’re the one who carried him away, just tell me where you put him; and I’ll go and get him myself.”

Even in His full resurrection power, our Lord was still in the likeness of His flesh. But why did Miryam not recognize Him at once? It is very likely that she was so absorbed in her own thoughts that she was blinded to all outward objects — “swallowed up with overmuch grief.”

The love of her heart was all right, but the theory of her head was all wrong. Overwhelmed with her love for Him, she had failed to heed His teaching that it was necessary for Him to die and to rise again from the grave.

In like manner it will save us from much disappointment and sorrow if we make sure that we are as correct in our doctrine as we are in our devotion. It is not enough that we love Him deeply, as important as that is. It is necessary for us to also have a firm foundation in correct teaching.

Yeshua had risen, just as He said, but they believed Him not because they had failed to heed His teaching.

But Yeshua does not leave us alone in our sorrow. When Miryam listened to Him, she made an ...

Amazing Discovery

16Yeshua said to her, “Miryam!”

Turning, she cried out to him in Hebrew, “Rabbani!” (that is, “Teacher!”)

Miryam needed to have her eyes turned away from herself and the grave in order to see Him who is the Resurrection and the Life. His word caught her ear and sunk into her heart. He called her by name and claimed her as His own.

As Isaiah writes (43:1):

But now this is what ADONAI says, he who created you, Ya'akov, he who formed you, Isra'el: “Don't be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I am calling you by your name; you are mine.”

His sheep hear His voice, and He calls them by name. No one who ever seeks the Lord Yeshua HaMashiach ever finds a dead or powerless teacher, but finds rather a risen and powerful Savior and Lord.

When Miryam heard the Savior speak her name, she was filled with a ...

New Boldness

Upon coming face to face with the resurrected Lord, Miryam evidently fell at His feet, clung to Him, and worshipped Him. Matthew 28:9 tells us:

They came up and took hold of his feet as they fell down in front of him.

In the King James Version, John 20:17 says that Yeshua told her, “Touch me not.” Some have taught that Yeshua for some reason was forbidding Miryam from touching His resurrected body.

But in the original language, what Yeshua literally said was, “Stop clinging to me.” Yeshua did not object to being touched. In fact, later that evening in the upper room He invited the disciples to examine His body to prove that He was physically raised from the dead and not just some form of spiritual manifestation as so many of the cults and false religions teach.

17“Stop holding onto [clinging to] me,” Yeshua said to her, “because I haven’t yet gone back to the Father. But go to my brothers, and tell them that I am going back to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”

When she realized that the man she was speaking to was really Yeshua, Miryam incorrectly assumed that He was back and everything would now return to normal and their usual fellowship would be resumed. But Yeshua was telling her that she had to stop clinging to their old relationship. Messiah is now to ascend to the Father, and physical fellowship is to be resumed only when He returns for His own.

His resurrection had changed His status, certainly; but His resurrection had also changed the status of His disciples. They had been elevated from the status of followers to that of brethren, or brothers. The Father of the Lord Yeshua HaMashiach has now become the Father of His brethren. The God of the Lord Yeshua HaMashiach has now become the God of His brethren.

When Miryam correctly understood the nature of her resurrected Lord, her desire for fellowship changed to a desire for ...

Unquestioning Obedience

17"Stop holding onto me," Yeshua said to her, "because I haven't yet gone back to the Father. But go to my brothers, and tell them that I am going back to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." 18Miryam of Magdala went to the talmidim with the news that she had seen the Lord and that he had told her this.

Miryam had tarried in the garden until she was endued with the power of a great commission. She had wrestled with her anxiety, her disappointment, and her sorrow. She had made a mistake, but she had also made a great discovery. When she had come face to face with the risen Savior she had been filled with boldness, and was now responding with obedience.

What a message had Yeshua given Miryam to carry to the disciples, the Gospel of Sonship; Yeshua said, “My father, and your Father.” Her faithful love for the Lord was rewarded by her being made the first herald of His resurrection power.

In John 14:21, Yeshua said,

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me, and the one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him."

When we truly come face to face with the glorified Messiah, He will make us to become His willing servants.

Are you a willing servant of the Lord Yeshua HaMashiach? Have you ever come face to face with the resurrected and glorified Messiah?

If not, let this be the day you receive Him as your Lord and Savior, and let Him bestow upon you the gift of eternal life. The Scriptures say:

And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain — for He says, "At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you. Behold, now is “the acceptable time;” behold, now is "the day of salvation.” (2 Cor 6:1-2)

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