Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Day 198: John 20:11-18 & Psalm 91 - What Makes Mary Magdalene's Testimony of the Resurrection so Remarkable?

Today's Reading: John 20:11-18 & Psalm 91

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What Makes Mary Magdalene's Testimony of the Resurrection so Remarkable?

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). - John 20:14-16, ESV

In the 40 days after He rose from the dead and before He ascended back to heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father, Jesus appeared to over 515 people on several different occasions. However, of all of Jesus' post-resurrection appearances, none was more remarkable than the first. Jesus' appearance to Mary Magdalene in the garden of the tomb is surprising and perhaps the most compelling of all of the appearances. Why?

1. Mary was a woman. Women were not respected in the ancient world. They did not enjoy the same rights as men and their testimony was generally not admissible in court. Yet Jesus chose to appear first to a woman and to send her to be the first witness of His resurrection to the male disciples, who would not see Him until later that day, in the evening.

2. Mary was a woman with a troubled past. More than just a woman, Mary Magdalene was a woman from whom Jesus had exorcised seven demons. This means she had a dark and oppressed past. What better person to be the first to witness the victory of Christ over the powers of hell than someone who had suffered for years under the torment of those very powers!

3. Mary was clearly not expecting the resurrection. This account shows us how entirely unexpected the resurrection was to the early disciples. Skeptics sometimes claim that the disciples were superstitious and gullible, and that the resurrection appearances might have been a kind of wish-fulfillment. But ancient people knew as clearly as we do that dead people do not rise again. They were not expecting to see Jesus again.

4. Mary did not even recognize Jesus first. Mary was deeply distress, crying, desperately wondering what had happened to her Master. Even after she saw angels in the tomb, she still thought someone had just stolen the body. Even when she saw Jesus, she thought he was the gardener of the garden around the tomb. She thought perhaps he had taken the body away.

For all of these reasons, when Jesus speaks Mary's name and she recognizes Him, it is the most wonderful news and a most remarkable transformation for her life, for the life of the disciples and for the world! Praise God for the remarkable testimony of this woman. Praise Him even more for the powerful resurrection of Jesus from the dead!   

Prayer Based on Psalm 91:

Heavenly Father, by Your grace,
You are my shelter and I dwell in the shadow of Your wings.
You keep me and guard me in all of my ways.
Your son, Jesus, trusted in You and You delivered Him from the snare of death.
Because I belong to Jesus, I, too, am secure in Your loving care for me. 

Father, we are Your people and we live in a hostile world.
We live in a land where Satan prowls and people fall prey to His attacks daily.
Keep us safe in Your hands.
Guide us by Your Holy Spirit.
Glorify Your name and exalt Your Son
   in our churches, in our worship, in our families and in our lives.
Deliver us and protect us,
   for we love You and hold fast to Your name.

In Jesus' precious name, Amen!    

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