Tuesday, April 26, 2011

God of the Oppressed, Part 2

Part 1, available here, discussed what we can learn from the story of Hagar in the desert. Today's installment will discuss what we can learn from the story of Mary Magdalene at the tomb of Jesus.

The following will be a familiar story, celebrated every Easter. Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb of Jesus early in the morning and found the tomb empty.
But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.
And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
John 20:11-17

There are many people Christ could have chosen to appear to first. He could have appeared to the leaders of the government or the synagogue. (Honestly, that would have been awesome. Talk about taunting them with the whole "you killed me but I came back to life" thing. But obviously, Jesus is way more humble than that and not prone to gloating.) He could have appeared to the apostles. Instead, He chose to appear to Mary Magdalene.
Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
Mark 16:9
Society at that time was heavily patriarchal, so it is definitely worth noting that Christ chose a woman to be the first person to see Him after His resurrection. I also find it interesting that Mark notes that Christ had cast seven devils out of Mary. The number seven is often used in the Bible to indicate totality or completeness. Mary had been seriously afflicted (either by demonic possession as the text indicates, or perhaps by mental illness, since people in ancient times often attributed mental illness to possession), and Christ healed her. Another interesting point, which I only noticed a few days ago, is that Christ appeared to Mary even before he went to see God the Father.

The first living being to witness the resurrection was not a king or a priest. The first living being to witness the resurrection was a humble woman who had been healed by Christ and who sought Him out early in the morning while others were presumably asleep.

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