When you think of your childhood do you recall your mother wiping away your tears? I can remember all the times my mother spent wiping away mine. When I fell and scratched my knees or if a friend said something mean to me. My mother would kneel in front of me, wipe away my tears, hug me, and tell me everything would be okay. Dads do this too but I submit it’s a mother’s way about her that makes the difference.
How do we, today, view the women in the Bible. Our passage speaks to Mary Magdalene. How she discovered the empty tomb. How the angel spoke to her. How she saw Jesus. Finally, how she took this information to the disciples.
There were also women like Deborah. She held a highly respected position of judge in Israel. Because of Deborah and her decisions, the Israelites experienced forty years of peace. Rahab was a brave woman who, although she had a checkered past, landed in the lineage of Jesus. Hannah offered up her son, Samuel, for religious training. Then there’s Anna the Prophetess who appears in the Gospel of Luke. Anna prophesized about Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem. We see her when Jesus is being presented at the Temple and becomes one of the first to see the Messiah. Mary, the mother of Jesus. We think of Mary as the young mother who carried hope for the world in her womb. Rhoda and Phoebe both filled important roles. All these women held a different place in history and in the Bible yet all their roles were important.
Shannon Bream, a journalist, just released a book entitled, The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak: Lessons on Faith from Nine Biblical Families. This book looks at the faith of some of the women of the Bible. She examines their life. For instance, Jochebed, the mother of Moses. The enormous risk she took to protect her son. She also writes about Rebekah who didn’t make the best choices in life.
A friend and fellow author, Mary DeMuth, has recently released her new book entitled The Most Misunderstood Women of the Bible: What Their Stories Teach Us About Thriving. She looks at Eve, Leah, Bathsheba, the Proverbs 31 Woman, and others. Through her writings, you learn how these women became misunderstood and how to help women understand misunderstanding.
The Bible speaks clearly about women in a day when women were treated as possessions. However, Jesus treated women with respect. His view of women and femininity was different than that of the cultural leaders. Jesus valued women just like God the Father does. If you look at Genesis 1:27 you read that God created mankind in His own image, “male and female He created them.”
Coming off the resurrection of Jesus we learn that Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus after His resurrection. As we look at Mary Magdalene we must ask the question—was she really a prostitute? The answer is no. No, she wasn’t. From the Bible, we only have one hint about Mary Magdalen’s life before she began following Jesus. Luke 8:1-3 tells us that Jesus cast seven or possibly more demons out of her. She did a total turnaround and started following Jesus for the rest of His ministry and life. The only other thing we know about her is that she helped to financially support Jesus and His disciples which we read about in Luke 8:1-3. We know that she witnessed Jesus’ death. We know as mentioned that she saw Him first after His resurrection which we see in John 20:11-18. She even might have seen the descent of the Holy Spirit after Jesus ascended which we read in Acts 1:14. Jesus valued her. Rumors exist that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were married. Not true. She was a follower of Jesus and that’s it.
We can look at Mary Magdalene to see how the culture of that day treated women and I’ll provide you with a bit of propaganda. If you wanted to show the resurrection to be true you certainly wouldn’t send a woman to proclaim it, right? They had no legal standing after all. And when she did tell of what she saw, the disciples didn’t believe her even after Jesus told them He would die but would come again to life.
After Mary Magdalene went to the tomb in the early morning and found Jesus gone, she ran to tell the disciples and as mentioned previously they didn’t believe her at first. But Peter goes back to the tomb with her and is astonished to see that she’d told the truth. He left her to go retell her story to the other disciples and Mary Magdalene was left alone outside of the tomb.
She wept bitterly at the sight of an empty tomb. Ever wept like that? I know I have. If you remember, Jesus wept when Lazarus died. Mary Magdalene grieved over the loss. But Jesus said to her, “Why are you weeping?”
Jesus is always there to wipe away the tears. Just like our mothers were always there to wipe away our tears when we were children. Mary Magdalene goes to find a dead body but finds life. Looking for death is never good. Mary Magdalene doesn’t recognize Jesus until He calls her by name. You see, the resurrection changes the game. If the resurrection never happened—what good is there?
Jesus always meets us in our tears. This is why when Mary Magdalene encountered Jesus, she went out to tell others about the risen Lord. But first, there is weeping. Until that time when Jesus asks “why are you weeping” and calls us by name. The good news of our faith is that we praise a risen Savior. From that point, the best way to tell the story of Jesus is to tell your story.
As a bit of trivia: the song “In the Garden,” written by C. Austin Miles in 1912, Miles says the inspiration for this hymn came to him when he was drawn to John 20-1-18 which is the story I’ve referenced in this blog of the meeting between Jesus and Mary Magdalene soon after His resurrection. It’s so cool to read that the song was in fact about Mary Magdalene.
It took an amazing amount of courage for Mary Magdalene to go out and tell people about the resurrection of Jesus. It’s also nice to know that women were a part of the life of Jesus. The best part and the most comforting part is that Jesus is always there to wipe away our tears.
And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!
From my girls and me to all the moms!