Two accounts in the Gospel of John of women running to share good news always bring tears to my eyes—and leave me breathless. The first is when Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman, and the second is when He reveals himself to Mary Magdalene on that first Easter morning.
You may know the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman—how He takes an undesirable route on a journey from Galilee in the north of Israel to Jerusalem in the south just to make sure He meets up with her. She is a woman scorned. Having survived five bad marriages, she is now living with a man she didn’t bother to marry. She goes to gather water at the well in the heat of the day in order to avoid giving the other women in the village another opportunity to gossip about her. Then she “just happens” to run into Jesus.
Reading the full account in John 4:7-29 changes lives today just as the encounter with Jesus changed hers that day so long ago. For Jesus doesn’t condemn her, He simply lets her know that He knows all about her, and cares about her anyway. He discusses theology with her, explains how He is the Source of living water, and then—to this most unlikely of confidantes—reveals that He is the Messiah. John 4:28 states what happens next: Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”
Ken Gire, in his wonderful book Intimate Moments with the Savior, describes the scene like this: “In that intimate moment of perception, she leaves to tell this good news to the city that has both shared her and shunned her. Behind, left in the sand, is her empty water jar. Stretching before her is a whole new life. And with her heart overflowing with living water she starts to run. Slowly at first. Then as fast as her new legs will take her. “
The second encounter that takes my breath away is found in John 20:10-18. Remember Mary Magdalene? She’s the woman Jesus saved from seven demons. A loyal follower, she stands by Mary, the mother of Jesus, throughout his crucifixion. In her complete devotion, she is last at the cross, first at the tomb. How horrified she is to find the stone rolled away, and the tomb empty! First she runs to tell the disciples what she discovered, then she runs back with them to the tomb. They leave, but she stays.
And we know what happens next. She, too, encounters a man. John 20:15-16 reads: “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabonni!” (which means Teacher).
Jesus tells Mary Magdalene to go and tell the others that He has risen, and will soon be returning to His father in heaven. John 20:18 tells us: Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!”
I can only imagine how tired she is after crying for two days, not sleeping, and running to the tomb not just once on that first Easter morning, but twice! Yet I’m sure that once she hears the greatest news of all, she doesn’t just saunter into town to tell the others. She runs—her sandals pounding the dirt path as she holds onto her head covering with one hand and wipes away tears with the other.
This Easter, may you also have an intimate encounter with Jesus. May you see Him for who He truly is—then run as fast as you can to tell someone the good news! Have a blessed, joyful Easter.