Resurrection: Why is Mary Magdalene the first Resurrection Witness?
Mary Magdalene was a throw-away person in that time until love came town. Why is she the first one? This is a public relations mess. Who’s going to believe her with a background like hers? And there was a lot of gender bias in the first century. If you want your movement to get out to an explosive start, find the most credible person you can find, and let them get all the media attention! Listen, the fact that Mary Magdalene is the first to receive an appearance and it’s recorded that way – is a huge argument for the truthfulness of the account. You would not have written it that way if in fact, it had not occurred that way. Instead, you have the Gospel writers saying, “We’re not fudging on that detail. We’ll take the hit on our book sales if we have to, but we are making a female, former prostitute the star first witness to the Resurrection! You would not do it this way UNLESS it’s exactly the way it happened. Mary Magdalene was a throw-away person in that time until love came town.
Was this a public relations mistake? Jesus didn’t make a mistake. He chose a woman, not a man. He chose a reformed prostitute, with some mental issues, not a pillar of the community. He chose a layperson, not an officer. Mary was on the outside of every single category of inside / outside the world had. She was a woman, not a man. She was poor, not middle class. She was deranged at one time, not sane. She was immoral, not moral. She was on the outside of everything. And this is what makes Easter the most incredible story of the world! A first century throw-away person is the first star witness of the beginning of a New Age.
The gospel is that God’s salvation does not come on the basis of merit. It doesn’t come on the basis of pedigree. It doesn’t come on the basis of race, class, or gender pecking order. The gospel is not that the good are in and the bad are out. The gospel is the humble are in and the proud are out. The gospel is not that you give God a perfect record, but the gospel is that he gives you a perfect record in Christ. The gospel is that it is not your past which is a determining factor of your relationship with the Father, but it’s Christ’s past and his record that brings you into fellowship with God. Christ chooses the Marys of the world so us non-Marys will get that.
Now, don’t go do something crazy and presume on God’s grace. You don’t need wounds from a “Mary-kind” of past-life. You can listen to the testimonies of former prostitutes and they will tell you, “Don’t do that kind of life!” But in choosing Mary Magdalene, Jesus is looking to include those on the lowest rung of the ladder. He makes her the first evangelist before she ever said the first word.
At one time Mary Magdalene was oppressed by spiritual darkness – as you might be. What’s that look like? a compulsive desire to curse the Lord by name; a revulsion against the Bible; thoughts of suicide or murder; bitterness and hatred; deep depression and despondency; horrific nightmares; violent, uncontrollable rage; self-inflicted injuries; restlessness and insomnia; anguish and torment. Or maybe you’re a midlife mama with a little bit dough. But you’re empty. You need new life!