Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.
Mary Magdalene is mentioned as having been the first to visit the tomb of Jesus after his crucifixion, either alone or with others. As Saturday is the Sabbath for Jews, the first day of the week is a Sunday, and also the soonest since the Crucifixion that Mary or anyone could’ve done any “work”. So we see that Mary couldn’t even wait until it was light, and instead, took off in the wee hours of that first Easter Sunday to go to the tomb. So why was she going there? In Mark 16:1, it says that Mary, along with two others, took spices to anoint the body.
So now we’ve established the who, where, when, and why of the story. Except I think there’s more to the “why”. I have always heard that Mary being the first person at the tomb was both a sign of her faith and yet another example of how God breaks expectations, in other words, breaking gender stereotypes of the time and having Mary be the first to go and also the first to see the risen Christ. But I don’t actually think Mary ran to the tomb because of her faith.
If she had faith, she would’ve believed Jesus when he said he would be risen. Instead, she was probably a complete train wreck and might have been wondering if Jesus was really who he said he was. She had either forgotten or lost faith in what Jesus had said, but having become so close to Jesus, she wanted to pay her respects and anoint his body. Perhaps she wanted a chance to say goodbye. Maybe she needed closure. Just a week earlier, Jesus had triumphantly entered Jerusalem, and she probably couldn’t believe all that had happened in just a week.
She ran to the tomb because she did not believe he had risen, and yet, despite her doubts, Jesus appeared to her first. She witnessed Jesus’ ministry, his miracles, and then his cruel death on a Roman cross, and yet, she still doubted. If she doubted and yet Jesus still came to her, then it should give us encouragement when we, who have believed on faith alone, have our own doubts. It’s okay to have doubts and uncertainties, and God is right here with us anyway.