Jesus said to her, Mary. She turned herself, and said to him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
: — No one ever used human language so eloquently as Jesus. Men have spoken with such arguments, rhetoric and passion, as to convince and move multitudes. But no one save Jesus could by simply saying, "Follow Me," draw any one from his trade, his home, and bind him in life-long devotion. What power in the look He, a helpless prisoner, cast upon His renegade disciple! But I suppose that this word "Mary" surpassed all others —
1. In what it revealed of Himself. Those lips were endowed with a new power, as there had passed upon them the change which had glorified His resurrection body. These bodies, as organs through which our souls express themselves, are like poor untuned instruments upon which one would play. It is only by study of the art and long practice that the most skilful can make them reproduce what is in the depths of the heart. But Christ's resurrection body was perfectly adapted to express all the emotions of His spirit. All the sentiment of His soul was doubtless put into the manner and tone with which He spake that word "Mary." There must have been a world of revelation and love in it; the infinite thought filling and flowing out from the human word more than the electric light radiates from the bulb of glass which encloses the spark.
2. Because of His choice of an auditor. The import of the occasion was so great, the moment when life and immorality were brought to light, that the earth might well have been assembled while the heavens bowed down to hear the first word of the risen Son of God. But Jesus chooses one auditor. And who is it? A king? A high priest? A prophet with intellect inspired to comprehend the grandeur of His tidings? No; but a simple woman. And why? Because she loved the Saviour most. Very deep the lesson we are to learn from this, that not to the most serviceable even, nor to the most spiritually learned, not to those who were appointed to the highest dignities in the Church by His own designation, the holy apostles, but to her who loved Him most, gave He the most resplendent honour of all. The blessing of Christ will most enwrap us as we come closest to Him. You will learn most of His truth as you give yourself up to feel His affection.
I. WHAT IS THAT WORD WHICH OUR LORD CHOOSES THROUGH WHICH TO REVEAL HIMSELF? There was one word so immense in its meaning, so sacred, that the few would not venture even to pronounce it. How appropriate if those lips which are henceforth to pronounce from the throne of heaven the mandates of the universe had uttered that word in tones of thunder, "I am God!" It would have been in keeping with the guard of angels and the magnitude of the event. But Jesus saith unto her, Mary. He called her name. His sense of His divinity and dominion is no greater than His love and sympathy for one sorrowing human being. "I have called thee by name," said God to the Old Testament people. Our Saviour emphasizes very beautifully the same truth. "He called His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out." We cannot lose ourselves in the multitude of the world so as to escape His eye, nor in the multitude of His saints so as to have only a part of His gracious care.
II. MARY RECOGNIZED, NOT ONLY HER OWN NAME, BUT THE VOICE THAT UTTERED IT. At first she did not see that it was Jesus. But the voice penetrated both Jesus' disguise and her own blindness. That expressed more than the mere presence did. The call which He makes to the heart is beyond all the external evidence for His divinity and presence. A man may through ignorance be unable to answer infidel objections, and yet be unshaken because of the impression Christ has wrought upon his inner experience. What argument could have robbed the dying Wesley of the confidence he uttered, "God is with me"? How that word "Mary" stirred the recollection of the disciple! He said it doubtless just as He used to say it. The word recalled His casting out the seven devils. Such the fulness with which our Saviour's call to us to-day is laden. It is a reminder of what He has always been to us. His watch over you began long ago. For you He died as truly as for Mary. And His providence and Spirit have hovered over you like the two wings of a mighty angel shadowing you as you have moved down the path of life. Do you remember what He was to you in the hour of your conversion? in the hour of sorrow? Try to think what you would be now had not His goodness kept or guided you. You were never such a friend to yourself as this unseen, mysterious companion has been to you. And as He calls each of us by name — the name mother's voice so fondly called in our childhood — the name by which dear ones will try in vain to call us back for one moment's recognition as our souls disappear through the death shades — He condenses into it all the love and good of past years. Our life-long, tried, infinite Friend calls us again.
III. But it was not merely an old-time greeting Mary received. IT WAS A NEW AND MEASURELESS BENEDICTION. That salutation made real to her all she had ever dared to hope. With the other disciples she did once fondly dream that He who gave life to others would Himself always live. But how terrible the disappointment? But now her wildest dream is surpassed by the reality. Oh! if we could only realize what Christ means by His salutation to-day! Mass all the longings of your heart; they are nothing to be compared with the reality.
(J. M. Ludlow, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.