Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). (John 20:16)
The famed agrarian philosopher, Wendell Berry, said of teaching: “The teachers are everywhere. What is wanted is a learner.” This could be said of any hierarchy of relationships. Everyone wants to be a leader; few want to follow. Everyone wants to be the boss; no one wants to do the heavy lifting. Certainly, to be in relationship with Jesus, one must relate to him as the leader—the teacher. It is the most profound partnership we can have with him.
When attempting to describe Jesus in his unique role as God and Savior, we are often chided for assigning the role of “teacher” as a characteristic. Because there have been many great teachers throughout history, we are reminded that Jesus was more than the label or job title. One of his central qualities was the role of leader—teacher.
The moment Mary Magdalene finally believed that the same person who died just days before was suddenly alive and talking to her was because she recognized him as her teacher. Jesus’ teaching sent him to the cross, but beside the empty tomb, he embodied all those words he had taught his disciples. And, as teacher, he knew his student well enough to call her by name, “Mary.”
We too can know Jesus as teacher and lean into his words and know when he is near.
Learn from the Master Teacher who transforms you.
Rich Eckley is professor emeritus of theology at Houghton College (NY). He is an ordained Wesleyan minister, and enjoys—with his wife Lynn—entertaining four active grandchildren.
© 2020 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.