The account of Mary Magdalene at the tomb of Jesus is told in all four gospel narratives. She was one of Jesus' faithful disciples, standing with him at the foot of the cross, following Joseph of Arimathea to the grave to see where Jesus would be buried, and rising early the morning after the Sabbath to anoint and wash His Body. It's her portrait in Scripture that became part of my Easter meditation as I studied her to understand the Resurrection through her eyes.
Mary Magdalene must have been a brave woman to not only have witnessed the pain of Jesus' crucifixion, but also to have endured both an earthquake (as recorded in Matthew 28:2) and angelic visitation at His grave (as reported by all four gospels). She was also a bold woman, as she did not shrink back from her sovereignly-appointed assignment to be the first witness to the resurrection of her Lord and Savior -- even in a culture that considered the testimony of women to be worthless. As the IVP Bible Background Commentary states, "The witness of women was worth little in Judaism; that Jesus first appears to a woman would not have been fabricated and shows us how Jesus' values differ from those of his culture."
But it's the portrait of her worship in the gospel of John that drew my attention. John's gospel concludes with personal scenes of Jesus interacting with a few of His disciples after His resurrection. In the section about Mary Magdalene at the tomb, we see her fierce devotion to her master (John 20:11-18). As soon as she hears Jesus speak her name, she recognizes His voice and any confusion about who was standing in front of her evaporates. She responds by clinging to Him and calling Him, "Rabboni," a more personal and less formal version of "Rabbi." While Rabbi means "teacher," Rabboni means "my teacher." Her Savior speaks and she responds with the acknowledgment of a personal relationship.
The focus of Scripture is always on what God has done to glorify His name and to rescue His people. But there are times when we can glean something distinctive from the account of a particular person in the Bible. From Mary Magdalene, I see what devotion looks like even when God's activities seem confusing or disappointing. I am certain Mary Magdalene did not expect that her "rabboni" would be publicly executed and humiliated. But even in those circumstances, she is on hand to serve Him. Thus, her service places her in the position of seeing her grief turned to joy as she encounters where she likely never expected Jesus to be: resurrected from the grave.