As high school yearbooks go, there wasn’t a whole lot of me. I mean, I was smart… graduated 36 out of my class of 425… but not smart enough to be “Top 10” or valedictorian. (Or at least I didn’t apply myself enough. Wink) I didn’t play any sports. I wasn’t in the band… or the orchestra… or the drama department. I attended the Christian club on campus… sporadically, but that was the only club I was in. I didn’t work on the yearbook staff. I didn’t sit at the popular kids table. I wasn’t prom king… I didn’t even go to the prom. I was, for all practical purposes, normal… plain… vanilla.
Some high school yearbooks contain a list of “most likely to…” candidates. You know… most likely to succeed… most likely to get a doctoral degree… most likely to be a movie star… most likely to get arrested… and the list goes on. But I was not chosen “most likely” to be or do anything… Maybe that made me least likely, I don’t know.
It’s why I find it interesting that the first person Jesus chose to show Himself after rising from the dead was… wait for it… wait for it… Mary Magdalene, everyone! (The crowd does not cheer. In fact, there is a sudden vacuum in the room as people gasp in amazement.) Wait a minute…. He chose Mary Magdalene? That woman out of whom He had to cast seven demons? Why? Why her?
Mary Magdalene wasn’t one of the eleven remaining disciples who had followed Jesus for three years. There’s only like one or two stories about her in the whole Bible, and in one of them she is crashing a party and making a scene. (Of course, it happens to be a scene that Jesus loves.).
And she’s a woman. I’m not being misogynistic here. By the time Jesus walked this earth, woman were finally being appreciated for more than their ability to bear children and keep the family clothed and fed. But they still were not always considered the highest priority. Men were still favored in society. And yet, Jesus chose to show His resurrected Self to a woman… least likely.
And then there’s that whole demon-possessed past thing. Surely, He could have chosen someone more reputable… someone with a better spiritual pedigree. What about John? John was with Him all the way through His darkest hours. John was who He gave care of His mother to. John was part of the inner circle who saw Him work miracles very few others got to see… and saw Jesus transformed on the mountaintop as He spoke with Elijah and Moses. John, who was allowed to sit closest to Jesus, who was always the guest of honor at meals. But Jesus chose Mary Magdalene, ex-demoniac… least likely.
It just doesn’t seem to add up… it doesn’t make sense… at least not the way we print high school year books. If there had been a yearbook for the class of those who followed Jesus, I’m not sure Mary Magdalene would have made any of the “most likely to…” assignments. Yet He chose her to be the very first person on this planet who saw Him alive after He came out of the tomb that first Easter morning.
But is it really senseless? If we look at the loving life and ministry of Jesus, didn’t He seem to always go looking for those people who didn’t make the cut for society’s “most likely” lists? He chose disciples who had probably been rejected by other rabbis. He touched lepers to bring healing to them. He protected a woman caught in the very act of having an affair with a married man. He picked a hated, cheating, thieving tax collector with whom to have lunch as He headed into the week of His suffering and death. Even while dying on the cross for the sins of the world, He was choosing a thief on a cross beside Him to spend eternity with Him.
Maybe He chose Mary Magdalene because she was the first to come to tomb on the third day. Maybe He chose her for some other reason. But in my heart, I somehow believe that He chose her because she was on the “least likely” list. Could it be that she needed to be the first to see Him so that all of us in life who don’t make the “most likely” list could know that we matter to Him? Could it be that He wanted us to know that He will come to any of us… in His great love… in His amazing grace… and in His resurrection power?
Maybe you feel like you’ve been overlooked or passed by in life. Maybe you don’t feel like you measure up to others in any category. Maybe you think you might get the “least likely” trophy if they were giving one of those away.
I have good news for you today… Jesus comes to the least likely and makes them unforgettable! As long as the story of Jesus coming back to life is told, so will the name of Mary Magdalene be tied to it. She saw Him first! And today, I hope that fact gives you hope… hope that He will come to you… hope that He will choose you… hope tie you to Him forever.
If you’re not sure how to let Him know you’d be interested in that, just do what Mary Magdalene did… take a step in His direction. He’ll clear the rest of the distance and let you know that you have just become a “most likely to spend the rest of your eternal life with Him!”