22 Feb Apostle to Apostles – Mary Magdalene
Women’s day is celebrated all over the world on 8th March to uplift, encourage and empower all women who are above 18 years of age. The cry for justice, freedom and equality, by and large seems to be unheard and unaddressed.
Both in Jewish and Greco–Roman society women were counted for little. They were nobodies except goods, in some circumstances be sold. Freedom and dignity were out of their scope. The witness of women was never considered as fitting in the court of law.
But interestingly God penetrated into male dominated society by putting women to bear witness to the resurrection of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. What a honour! Mary Magdalene was the first witnesses on resurrection.
The first Easter day started with running legs. Mary Magdalene came running to Peter and John and reported that the stone was rolled away from the tomb. Hearing this, they both ran to the tomb. The reactions of these three people were different. Peter went home wondering as to what happened and John went home having believed but Mary stayed back at the garden.
Mary Magdalene started weeping and went in side the tomb and saw two angels sitting and she had a dialogue with them. When she turned back she saw Jesus but did not recognize Him and thought that He was a gardener. Both the angel and the Risen Lord put the same question to Mary “women why are you weeping”?
She wept for the Lord whom she loved dearly. She wept for she could not find the body of Jesus. She wept for she feared the powers of the dark world. She wept as Peter and John went home speechless. She wept for she lost her faith in Jesus. She wept for she did not understand the resurrection of Jesus and its implications.
But the risen Lord called her by her name “Mary” and revealed Himself. She immediately recognized Jesus, the Teacher and called Him, “Rabboni”. Her fears disappeared at once, her joy knew no limits, her faith hit the zenith and her future seemed secured.
Jesus on the other hand gave her the greatest command and privilege of sharing the good news to the disciples that He is risen. Mary should not hold on to Jesus for He is for all, the good news is for all. Though resurrection is personal as it recreates new life within us, we should also believe that resurrection is universal. Mary Magdalene has become the first witness who testified to the risen Lord and her words, “I have seen the Lord”, remain forever. She is an Apostle to the Apostles. Though women’s testimony is of little value in those days, the Sovereign Lord has purposed so. All the Gospel writers have carefully included the testimony of the women especially that of Mary Magdalene.
Jesus Christ has placed great value on women. He encouraged women in the ministry, accepted their hospitality, taught them valuable lessons, entrusted His mother to John’s care, rescued a woman from the violent mob that tried to stone her to death, healed a woman from unyielding sicknesses, His encounter turned Samaritan women to an evangelist, empowered women as His witnesses of resurrection.
Above all, Jesus died for all women, took their sin, shame, guilt and nailed them to the cross and rose again on the third day victoriously.
Truly, Christ and the Scriptures have given dignity, respect, value and freedom to women. All Christians are obligated to do the same. Both men and women are made in the image of God; both men and women are equally guilty of sin and shame and equally deserving punishment; the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ can save both men and women; both men and women are equally empowered to the historical resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has no clue except to look to Christ and the Scriptures to understand what woman is all about.
The author is the State Sec’y of UESI Telangana based in Hyderabad with his wife Madhavi and two children.