I want to be like Mary Magdalene when I grow up.
On Easter morning, I was preparing my breakfast when I remembered Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb. I took my coffee in one hand and yogurt in the other and walked up to my bedroom to read the story again.
Mary went to the tomb of Jesus early on Sunday morning and was the first to find that his body was gone. She ran to get help from Peter and John. When they confirmed that the news was true, the disciples “went back to where they were staying” (John 20:10). No great gospel proclamations in the street just yet.
But Mary lingered. She wept. When she looked into the tomb again, two angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” (John 10:13, my Bible notes that the Greek here “does not denote any disrespect.”) She tells them that someone has taken her Lord away and that she does not know where to find him.
Then comes the part that stopped me cold:
“At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’” (John 20:14-15).
In that moment, Jesus was speaking to me, straight through the page of his Word. It didn’t have much to do with Easter anymore or his resurrection or the story of Mary Magdalene. He was asking about my heart.
Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?
As much as I had tried to deny it, something wasn’t right between me and Jesus. I was still pursuing God’s will, trying to be obedient, and stepping out “in faith,” but I had lost Jesus along the way. I forgot who I was doing it all for.
Mary gave Jesus the same answer that she gave the angels. The problem was that I couldn’t answer those questions like Mary did.
Woman, why are you crying?
She was crying because Jesus was gone.
Who is it you are looking for?
She was looking for Jesus.
When he asked me the same, my immediate, knee-jerk, zero-hesitation answer was someone else. The tomb was still empty, and Jesus was still gone, but I was crying and looking for someone else.
He had subtly faded out of sight, and someone else filled his place. Classic idolatry.
With the book of John open in my lap, I could feel Jesus asking, “Don’t you love me?”
Jesus had already proven his love for me. And what had I given in return? I remembered promises not three months old that I couldn’t keep for two weeks. I claimed I wanted freedom in Christ all while resisting to leave my chains.
On my walk to church, I almost turned back home. The conviction was a weight in my stomach. I worried someone might see my hypocrisy, call me to repentance, and then I would cry.
I’m glad I kept walking. It was good to be in church. It always is. But I was halfway miserable the whole time too. It didn’t help that my parents were supposed to have gone with me but were delayed.
My mom later shared something she had learned in a women’s Bible study. Every time she notices herself feeling tempted, like when she might want a chocolate cake at the store, she instead prays, “Lord, I love you more.” As much as she might love that cake, she loves Jesus most of all.
I want to be like that. I want to be like Mary Magdalene. So when Jesus asks me why I am crying or who I am looking for, I can say with a clear conscience, “Lord, I love you more. I want nothing else. I look for no one else.”