Summary: Easter, Mary Magdalene and her encunter with the Risen Christ, how do we encounter him?
Surprise, was this the main emotion on that Sunday morning?
Mary a woman from the town of Magdala, This woman who owed her current reality to this man, this Jesus of Nazareth, the man who had freed her from seven demons, the brokenness and control that they had had over her life, she had been suddenly released, set free as Jesus cast them out of her.
At sometime in the three years of Jesus ministry she received this unshackling. She went from insanity to saint, from Satan’s Toy, to living in the joy of the Saviour of the World.
For those Bad Girls of the Bible fans, Liz Curtis Higgs describes her as going from being a Mad Girl to a Glad Girl. Those possessed by demons were usually seen as being Mad; or crazy.
Mary had been present at the crucifixion of Jesus, witness to his suffering and death, that Friday, the events had shaken her more than Fridays Earthquake had shaken the city. The death he died, what it was to witness his death, she was shaken.
That was Friday; this was Sunday.
She had returned to the tomb on the first day of the week early in the morning the crispness of night still hung in the air, the events of the last few days still raw and painful, the track beneath her feet, the early morning bird song and the first colour appearing on the blooms as the light broke through to a new reality. There in that garden of the dead.
There was the tomb, the stone had been rolled away, she realised that his body was not there. Where was this body, the lifeless broken frame she had come to attend? Then surprise; the surprise of encountering the angels one at the head and one at the feet of where Jesus lay. His body was gone!
Where had his body gone?
Mary Magdalene, a woman shrouded in so much myth. Surprisingly nothing in the gospels tells us she was a prostitute or a sinful woman (remembering all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God), but we are told that she was demon possessed before being set free by Jesus.
What is true about her is that she was a follower of Jesus, set free by Jesus, and the first of Adams race to see the risen saviour and the first to share to good news with others. It happened that day!
There is a lot to this passage of scripture, these eighteen verses.
Mary had seen the tomb was empty, Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, who is known to be John, the eye witness author of these verses. These two men were told by Mary about the tomb being empty, they ran to the tomb.
John out ran Peter, what was Peter thinking as he approached the tomb. Those brief few days ago he had denied that he knew Jesus three times; was it shame that caused him to lag behind? However he was first to enter the tomb, to see the cloth, and linen separated, folded.
Then John entered, he saw and he believed.
What he believed was not that Jesus had risen from the dead, but that Mary was telling the truth about what she had seen. You see in those days the witness of a woman was not believed to be credible, they were not able to give evidence in a court of law. Interestingly this points to the truth of the gospels, if someone wanted to spin a good yarn about someone being raised from the dead, best not to have a woman as the first witness to the event. Better still not to have one who was previously possessed. (Pointing to my head)
John having seen now believed her. The tomb was empty!
Verse nine tells us, that “they did not understand from scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.”
Peter and John then went back to their homes. Was it the pull of breakfast, maybe eggs on toast and a glass of milk, more likely fish and unleavened bread and a glass of water maybe a slice of mutton; or was it the weariness of the weeks events… they went home!
Mary stood outside the tomb, crying…crying…crying… as she wept, she bent over, to look in the tomb, there were the angels. Why now, why one where the head of Jesus had been, why one where his feet had been?
Was this to show that Jesus was the first and the last, the beginning and the end?
This is an interesting picture; think on this; on the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies the Glory of God shone between the wings of heavenly beings. Now the Glory of God had been resurrected from the dead. It occurred between these two angels…he was raised from the dead! It happened that day!