For twelve hours, they only had her story. Here it is.
“Someone took the Master out of his tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
That is what she said first. Peter and the best friend of Jesus confirmed. His body was gone. Jesus’ best friend believed something supernatural had happened. Then later, she said…
“After you and Peter left, I couldn’t stop crying. As I laid my head on the opening to the tomb, something caught my eye. There were two angels inside! One sat at the top of the ledge, the other at the foot.
They said to me, ‘Ma’am, why are you crying?’
‘Because they have taken my master away and I don’t know where!’ I said. I turned away and noticed another man behind me.
He said, ‘Ma’am, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?’
I thought he was the caretaker, and so I asked him, ‘Where have you put him? I will come and get him from you.’ I didn’t see who he was!
He said my name. Then, I knew it wasn’t the caretaker, it was Jesus!
‘Master!’ I threw myself at him.
‘Don’t hug me yet. I still need to go up to my Father. But, go tell my brothers I am going to my Father. He is your Father too!’
And so I came to tell you.”
But they didn’t believe her.
Mary Magdalene was the only woman to speak of her experience immediately. There were more women who came forward later and confessed a similar thing had happened to them. Mary, Joanna and Salome were with Mary Magdalene when they saw the stone out of place. Mary Magdalene ran off, but the other women went inside and saw the angel inside the tomb.
He said, “Don’t be scared. Jesus from Nazareth, who was crucified, is not here. He is come back to life. See for yourself that he is not here. Now, go tell his disciples and Peter that he will meet them toward Galilee, and then they will see him for themselves, just like he said.”
But Mary, Joanna, and Salome kept quiet for a while, because they were afraid of the men.
The Eleven had a hard time believing this story of Mary Magdalene’s, even though Peter and Jesus’ best friend confirmed that Jesus’ body was missing.
Surely she didn’t see Jesus? She must have confused him for someone else. Why would Jesus appear to her and not us? They must have thought. She is only trying to get attention.
Even when the other women added their experience, they were not believed because their words seemed like nonsense to them.
Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating. He rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
They should have believed her.
The first critics of Christianity used this story of Mary Magdalene’s first witness to discredit the resurrection of Jesus. They argued that since women and close friends were the “only” witnesses of the resurrection, there was no reliable evidence that it happened.
We learn from Origen’s work, Contra Celsus, that Celsus, a vocal critic of Christianity in the 2nd century, called Mary Magdalene hysterical, half-mad or hallucinating. It made no sense to Celsus that Jesus would appear to a woman and not to men in authority, who could substantiate that this supernatural event occurred.
Porphyry, who wrote Against the Christians, also questioned Jesus’ choice to reveal himself to obscure, peasant women.
“If He had shown Himself to men of note, all would believe through them, and no judge would punish them as fabricating monstrous stories.” (64. Macarius, Apocriticus II: 14:. http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/porphyry_against_christians_02_fragments.htm)
The Gospel of Peter, an extra-biblical book written in the 2nd century, intentionally embellishes the story of the resurrection event itself. The author places hostile eyewitnesses that were more credible than women at the tomb. Roman centurions and elders experienced the earthquake. They saw Jesus emerge from the tomb and talk with God who spoke from Heaven.
This is exactly the kind of story that would have been written if the resurrection was a fabrication. But to put the truth of the resurrection of Jesus into the mouths of women? Crazy. Who would believe that?
We have received word of the resurrection of Jesus from the mouth of a woman. Do you believe her?
What do you think of the good news of Jesus’ return from death being first taught by a woman? Jesus chose a woman to tell his disciples he had risen. He expected them to believe her and scolded them when they didn’t. How can we continue to limit women in Christian circles just because of their sex? Jesus didn’t. Tell me what you think in the comments.
To put the truth of the resurrection of Jesus into the mouths of women? Crazy. Who would believe that?Tweet