Read: John 20:11–16 - “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ “She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means ‘Teacher’)” (John 20:16 NIV).
Reflect: Before I lived overseas, I didn’t quite understand the term mother tongue. Having grown up in rural America, I had little occasion to speak with people who did not know English well (my mother tongue). I’ve heard people say things like, “They are in America now; they need to speak English.” It might have been my belief, too, had God not given me an opportunity to live in another culture.
Upon our arrival in Thailand, my teacher became my dear friend. She would call me when things happened in our country that she knew I wouldn’t understand. One day, I heard an explosion. I remember grabbing my child and hiding under the stairwell with him. My husband was out of the country, and I didn’t know whether or not to expect more explosions. Within a few minutes, my Acharn (“teacher” in phonetical Thai) called to tell me about the explosion and that I should not be concerned.
I loved my Thai teacher. She worked hard to invest in me, with hope that I would speak clearly using the correct tones. She did not want people to make fun of me because I couldn’t speak well. As I grew in knowing more of the language, I was able to converse more in Thai. I worked hard to always be speaking Thai when I was with a Thai person. My teacher would often speak with me in English, but whenever she spoke about something meaningful, she would change to Thai, her mother tongue. I knew that it was necessary to learn Thai well in order to speak to Thai people about spiritual things.
Respond: A good teacher can make a world of difference in the ways we see ourselves, and I’m sure that Jesus, Mary Magdalene’s teacher, did just that for her.
Many of us have had a teacher or someone who inspired us and who saw things that we didn’t see in ourselves. Who believed in you when others did not?
Mary Magdalene is referred to as the Mary from whom Jesus cast seven demons (Mark 16:9). Imagine the love she felt for Jesus, her teacher, and how His crucifixion must have broken her heart.
Notice what happened when Jesus spoke her name on Easter Sunday: “Mary.” She recognized her teacher’s voice and responded in her mother tongue, “Rabboni” (Teacher).
Jesus cares deeply for each of us, too. He created us on purpose and wants us to know His voice, as Mary did, and speak to Him with our heart language. How about this Easter? He is very much alive. He is here to speak intimately with you and to take you on a journey you cannot imagine.
Claudia Johnson, CWLC leadership consultant