Prayfaithfully: The Resurrection and the Outcasts – Part 1

“Prayfaithfully” is the prayer ministry website of the Northern Great Lakes Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. I wrote the Daily Devotions for this week.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Text: John 20:11-18

“But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?’ 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 Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.”

A few years ago, National Geographic published a story titled, “6 Women Scientists Who Were Snubbed Due to Sexism”. It highlighted just a handful of stories about women who made significant scientific breakthroughs that changed the world was we know it; women like Jocelyn Bell Ball, who discovered pulsars, the remnants of supernovas, only to have the Nobel Prize be awarded to Anthony Hewish, her male supervisor; or Rosalind Franklin, who discovered the structure of DNA, only to have her discovery shared without her permission and later credited to someone else. History has a long and ugly tradition of ignoring, co-opting, and outright stealing the work of women.

In the Gospel according to John, Mary Magdalene is the first to discover that the tomb of Jesus Christ is empty. She runs and tells Peter and the disciple Jesus loved, and they run to the tomb to discover the truth of her words. After they leave, Mary remains behind, and there encounters the resurrected Christ in the flesh. Amazed, frightened, and delighted, she again runs to the disciples and exclaims, “I have seen the Lord!” Mary Magdalene, without a doubt, is the very first apostle, the very first evangelist, to proclaim the good news of Jesus’ resurrection.

And yet, later that day, the disciples are still huddled in a room, scared, not believing that Jesus has indeed risen. In the Gospel according to Luke, the two disciples walking along the road to Emmaus know that the women who went to the tomb found it empty and told them so, but they don’t believe the women either. The church is not immune to discrediting and ignoring women leaders and evangelists; it wasn’t then, and it still isn’t now.

Yet it is through the women at the tomb—through Mary Magdalene—that the good news of Jesus Christ risen from the dead spreads to the end of the world. Without the faithfulness of women, without their bravery, without their fiery spirit, the church would not exist. Thanks be to God for the women!

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, you entrusted the good news of your Son’s resurrection to the faithful women at the tomb. Give us their faith, their courage, their spirit to boldly proclaim your Gospel. In the name of your Son we pray. Amen.

Featured Image: “Woman of the Cloth” by sea turtle is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.


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