Who is the apostle, the proclaimer of the resurrection of Jesus? It is Mary Madeline, a woman. We might think about the position of women at the time of Jesus. It is pretty close to the way women are seen in many of the countries of the world today. A woman could never leave her home unless a male member of the family was with. She could never be seen taking with a man in public. Girls were never educated as boys were. Their marriages were arranged by their fathers. They were never allowed to be a witness is a court case. They could not inherit property. There was an old prayer that went; I thank God I was not born an ignorant man, a Gentile nor a woman. Women were none persons.
Jesus went out of his way to break many of these social taboos. Many of his friends were woman who travelled with him. He encouraged Mary to stay in the room with men and listen to his teachings – he praised her for choosing the better part. He spoke publicly with the woman at the well. He cured the woman with the flow of blood; he raised a young girl from the dead. Dying on the cross he was comforted by the presence of his mother and other women. His male friends were nowhere to be seen.
Jesus wanted to share the glorious reality of his resurrection from the dead first of all with a woman, Mary Magdalene. Mary came early in the morning to finish the hurried anointing of Jesus body that took place on Friday only to find the tomb empty. A man she thought was a gardener called her by name and she knew he was Jesus. She lost him once; she would not lose him again. She clung to his feet but he had something important for her to do. ‘Go and tell, go and tell my disciples, go and tell the world I am risen, I am alive.’ Mary Magdalene brought this good news to all of us – He is risen.
Of all the feast and celebrations of the year, Easter is the most important. Christmas in a wonderful feast and it is because of Christmas we celebrate Easter. At Christmas we celebrate the truth that the Word, God’s eternal Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us. The Word lived among us, worked with us, enjoyed our lives, and taught us things about God our Father. The Word healed our brokenness, our illnesses. The Word was like us in all things but did not sin.
In these last days we heard how his life journey came to an end, a terrible, humiliating end. The Word, the eternal Word of God was crucified – a death fit for the worst of criminals. The men and women who loved him and followed him were devastated. They huddled together behind locked door for fear of the authorities, worrying, would they be next. But all this changed with Mary’s message, ‘I have seen the Lord.’
On this feast of Easter we celebrate the feast of Christ’s Resurrection, the immortal sign of the victory of life over death, love over hatred, joy over sorrow, freedom over oppression. Christ’s resurrection is foundational to our lives as Christian people. ‘If Christ be not raised then we are still in our sins – in other words the pain and shame, the agony and humiliation Jesus suffered on Good Friday was a waste – and we of all people are the most to be pitied for we are still in our sins. But Christ is raised and we too have been raised with Him to live a new life for God. Christ’s resurrection is the pledge and promise of our own resurrection. Death is not the final word in life; life is the final word, endless life caught up in the glory of the Risen Christ.
As we continue our Easter celebration we pray for ourselves and for each other that we live our lives bearing witness to the awesome truth – Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.