In Bethlehem on Christmas we have a Mary, and outside Jerusalem on Easter we have a Mary. Christmas and Easter are bridged by Good Friday in which we have both Marys with Jesus at the Cross.
The Mary at Bethlehem speaks Jesus’ name; the Mary at the Tomb hears her name spoken by Jesus. Bethlehem speaks to us of God becoming mortal flesh; the Empty Tomb speaks to us of flesh incorruptible, of mortal flesh being made imperishable.
The Mary at Bethlehem was a virgin when Gabriel appeared to her with the announcement that the Holy Spirit would overshadow her and that the Son of God would be conceived in her. The Mary at the Tomb had been possessed by seven demons – she too would be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit; she would be cleansed by Jesus. No doubt both Marys were in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost, both would become part of the Body of Christ, the New Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ.
It may be likely that a third Mary was in the Upper Room (and perhaps a fourth – see Luke 24:10, John 19:25; D.A. Carson does a thoughtful job in sorting out the Marys in his commentary on Matthew for the Expositor’s series) the sister of Martha and Lazarus. This Mary speaks to us of rest in Christ, of sitting at His feet. All three Marys adored Jesus, followed Jesus, had hearts captured by Jesus.
Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, lavished Jesus with costly ointment in preparation for his burial. Not only did Judas not understand what she was doing, neither did the rest of the apostles (see the various Gospel accounts). This mentality of not wanting to wast time and resources on Jesus is even more prevalent in our own day when pragmatism rules the Western church – if it “works” then let’s do it, if it doesn’t “work”, in the sense of producing results, let’s not invest ourselves in it.
Some of us have known Jesus all of our lives, we can’t remember a time when we didn’t know Him, much like Mary at Bethlehem. Others of us have invited Jesus into our home, entertained Him, and become His friend in a progressive and natural way, perhaps like Mary of Bethany. And then there are those of us who know the hell of seven demons and the cleansing Word of Jesus Christ, bringing us into a life and light that we didn’t think possible.
He calls each Mary by name – just as He calls you and me by name.