Jesus Christ had been put to death on cross, buried in a tomb, and then — just like he said — he conquered death and rose from the dead. Then it was time for Jesus to reveal himself for the first time to someone here on Earth. Obviously, Jesus would choose one of his beloved disciples that had followed him for three years and been learning from his every move, or maybe he would choose his loving mother so that she would know that he was alive, or, at the very least, someone with a public position that could spread the word quickly. But as we see in John 20, Jesus chose Mary Magdalene to appear to first.
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.
— John 20:11-18
Earlier, as we can read in Luke 8, Mary Magdalene had seven demons cast out of her by Jesus. Is there a less reputable source to confirm the first sighting of the risen Savior than a woman who was previously demonized? Now, we know that Jesus did not do things by chance, and that the Bible does not just give us information like this for the heck of it. So why did Jesus choose her of all people to reveal himself to first? I think Jesus chose her for the same reason that God chose Rahab and Bathsheba to be in the lineage of Jesus, and the same reason that Jesus first identified himself as the Messiah to the woman at the well: to show us that he came to take away the devastating shame of sin and to bestow the greatest honors on the undeserving sinners in the world.
Tim Keller points out the wisdom of Jesus choosing Mary Magdalene for this honor in his sermon, Faith, The Complete Guide:
“There is no clearer way Jesus Christ could be saying on Easter Sunday that his salvation comes to people not on the basis of pedigree, not on the basis of merit, not on the basis of religion, not on the basis of morality, not on the basis of achievement. [Here] is what he is trying to show us. The person who [understands] her weakness most profoundly is the one who, when she experiences the love of Jesus Christ, becomes the most profoundly fearless.”
Because of Mary’s past, she was perfect to show the graciousness of God. This is the beauty of the Gospel: we are weaker and more sinful than we could ever imagine, while, at the same time, we are more loved and accepted by Jesus than we could ever dream. If we trust in Jesus, he will remove our sin before the eyes of God, and put us in a right standing with our creator. Jesus takes away your sin. It’s gone. You are clean. There is no shame, guilt, or weakness that you need to hide from God. Having faith in Jesus has given you total access to a perfect and holy God who loves you completely.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
— Romans 5:1-2