Today Jeff and I taught our daughter’s Sunday School class a group of eager and restless 12 and 13 year-olds. Because it’s Easter Sunday, we tag-teamed the story of the last days of Christ’s life: the washing of the apostles’ feet, the Last Supper, the prayer in Gethsemene, betrayal and arrest, Crucifixion, burial, Resurrection…
There was a heavy line of demarcation in the room loud and rambunctious boys on one side, meek and demure girls on the other. So as not to let our exuberant male audience overpower our less verbose feminine one, I turned to the girls and pronounced, “Ladies, if there’s one thing you remember after this lesson, I want it to be this: Jesus appeared to a woman first.”
I explained to our hungry-eyed young ladies that a group of women went to Jesus’ tomb 3 days after His death to anoint His body with spices and precious oils and ointments. When those women arrived, they discovered the stone had been rolled away. Upon entering, they saw an angel sitting next to where Christ’s body had been lain, who told them Jesus was not there. He was risen.
The angel bearing the news of the resurrected Lord spoke to a group of women first.
One of those women literally ran for Peter and James, who followed her back to make the same discovery. After the whats and the whys and the hows and the something-must-be-done-about-this disorentation…Peter and John left. One woman stayed behind, weeping outside the empty tomb.
A woman lingered. A woman mourned. A woman searched.
Someone from behind started to approached her. Was it the gardener or caretaker? “Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou has laid him, and I will take him away.” (John 20:15) Just tell me where He is. I just want to make sure He is cared for.
I just want to make sure He is…found.
All He needed to say was, “Mary.” The most sweet and soaringwords to any woman’s ears…her own name. And then she knew.
Mary Magdalene ran to Him and cried, “Rabboni,” which means Master. How joyful their reunion must have been. After the lingering and the mourning and the weeping and the searching, He had come. To her. Jesus had appeared to a woman first after His resurrection, and had instructed a woman to report that He lives.
Mary again ran to tell the disciples that she had seen Jesus and that He had spoken to her. Disbelieving and incredulous were many of them. Later Jesus would appear to them and tell them He was disappointed because they had not believed Mary’s account.
Jesus ministered for 40 days with His disciples including many women after His resurrection. Women were present in the “upper room” just prior to His ascension into heaven. “And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” (Acts 1:13-14)
And so I asked our young female friends why they thought Christ came to Mary first. Why didn’t He just come when Peter and John and everyone else was gathered together at the empty tomb? I believe by that point it was obvious.
Mary of Magdala, the woman, was seeking Him in solitude. Her heart was open, searching…breaking. She stayed behind to find Him, to feel after Him. As women often do.
One of our tween male participants wisely observed, “And Jesus probably knew that she was going to run and tell everyone the Truth about Him.” That made me smile.
On this Easter day, I wish to be as Mary, a heart afire, running to tell the Truth about what He speaks to me. No matter who believes me…
Because He simply is risen.