“Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.” Matthew 28:1
The other Mary. In the many years I have celebrated Easter Sunday in a church service, hearing the Resurrection story told again, I don’t think I have ever thought about her – the other Mary. As this Scripture verse was read yesterday, she jolted my mind out of its lulled expectation of the familiar.
The other Mary? That’s it? That’s all the author could think to say about her? This Mary was up early, just like the other Mary, the Mary with a name – Mary Magdalene. This Mary was just as heartbroken, just as desperate to be at the tomb of her beloved Jesus. This Mary was also running to the tomb, spices in hand, to proceed with the burial traditions.
Another Gospel account of the resurrection gives indication that this Mary may have been the mother of James, an apostle of Jesus Christ. This Mary was also a witness to the crucifixion, a recipient of the angel’s announcement, and a herald of the resurrection news to the disciples. No doubt she was known and loved by Jesus as well as His many followers. It seems the author’s designation of this woman as the “other Mary” was simply a matter of clarification for the original readers who could have determined exactly who she was.
But for all of history, for every future re-telling of this glorious event, she would be known as the other Mary, the undesignated Mary. One of the many “Marys” people knew. I think there is a gentle reminder in this. Am I content to be the unknown one? Am I comfortable when attention is given to someone whose story is more interesting than mine? After all, everyone knew Mary Magdalene’s story.
The other Mary teaches me a lesson. There was only one important Person to Mary that morning – the Person she thought was still dead. The Person she came to express a grief-filled love to at a stone-covered tomb. The Person who came back to life after having died, the Person who gave her life everlasting after she died. This Person, Jesus Christ, has done the same for me – providing salvation from my sins and life eternal in Heaven through His death and resurrection. And He should be the most important Person to me.
Jesus had a cousin, John, who knew what it was like to be the “other one”. And he summed up this lesson well when he said, “He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease.” I pray this will be true in my life, that Jesus will always have the first place.