Summary: Every person comes to faith differently. Mary Magdalene was one of the last people at the cross and first to the tomb. Although she was marginalized by society she was a loyal follower of Jesus.


John 20:1-18

I suppose that one of the reasons that I like history is the fact that it is chronological. We had a high-school teacher in Indiana that would start the school term with the big current event of the day and then move backward through history to make it more relevant for his students.

History is like reading a book – the plot doesn’t change – and it’s not like a math problem or scientific theory. And when test time comes; if you know your facts you will do well on the test. History is rock solid.

And, in the historical account of Jesus, every legitimate historian validates that Jesus walked on this earth some 2,000 years ago. There has been a plethora of evidence both for and against the existence of Jesus. And after weighing all the evidence the pro-Jesus camp is on solid ground. The ministry and message of Jesus – his life; his teachings; and his miracles are widely accepted truths.

There is hard evidence that he was crucified on a Roman Cross and three days later resurrected to life again. Only a small segment of society deny these things. With that being said, What are we to make about the resurrection of Jesus? And, in the theme of this series, Have you seen Jesus?

One of the most striking things about the Resurrection accounts as they are written in all four Gospels is that women were the first ones at the empty tomb, the first to meet the Risen Jesus, and the first to tell others they had seen Him.

With the cultural divide, that may be difficult for us to understand today. But from a historical standpoint this is important. Women, at the time of Christ, were not considered to be credible witnesses. Jewish Rabbis are quoted as saying, "It is better that the words of the Law be burned than be delivered to a woman ."

And, no one in the ancient world would have made the story about the resurrection up! Jewish men would not have a conversation with a woman in public and even his wife would have to walk behind him. Women were considered chattel property and had no rights.

So, that is why the gospel accounts are so striking; so earth-shattering. The women were the first to the tomb. The women were the first ones to see the resurrected Savior of the world! They were the first to believe. Jewish men might well have liked to air-brush this story – but it is about the women – a segment of society that had no political, social or religious power.

To say the least, Jesus’ ministry was unconventional. His followers were not the upper-crust of society. His followers were commoners for the most part. They followed his teachings because of his heart. Love God and love others had deep meaning and appeal. Turn the other cheek was a radical and difficult application. Humility then as well as today is difficult to put into practice.

The man whom they had followed had been crucified on a torturous Roman cross and buried. Their hopes and dreams seemed to be buried with the man whom they had invested their beliefs. But, then … let’s read the text:

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying. Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, 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, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

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