Tuesday April 5- A Woman starts the Easter gospel rolling…

Mark 16:9-11  

After Jesus rose from the dead early on Sunday morning, the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went to the disciples, who were grieving and weeping, and told them what had happened. But when she told them that Jesus was alive and she had seen him, they didn’t believe her.

Like in the other gospels, it is Mary Magdalene who is the first person to meet the resurrected Jesus on Easter, and the first one to proclaim the good news of, “Christ is risen!” Mary is the first proclaimer, the first preacher.

Now in the culture of that day it would be the last thing you would want to include in your book, that a woman is the first witness. Women can’t even testify in court. They are not considered reliable.

With Mary Magdalene, you would have another prejudice against here. She has experienced severe attacks from demonic forces which would look like severe mental illness today.

Of course, the early followers would know Mary had been healed, but if you are writing for everyone, which Mark is doing, you just wouldn’t have Mary be your first eyewitness of the most important event in world history, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Unless, of course, it really did happen just this way and Mary is telling the truth. The only reason you would include this first eyewitness in every gospel is if it is true.

Actually, this provides very powerful historical evidence of the truthfulness of the events. You record the worst possible person to rely on as a witness according to the prejudice of the day because, well, it happened this way!

But, needless to say, when Mary tells the others they don’t believe her. They appear stuck in their cultural stereotype of being skeptical of a woman’s testimony. Or the other followers of Jesus need to experience him for themselves.

Me

Do you have any strong stereotypes? Next time you catch yourself doing this, do a brief analysis as to how and why?

Friday April 1- This Is Not a Movie

Mark 15

They went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Here is another strange thing. The best manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark end just this way. Abruptly.

This is it. The women see the angel, the empty tomb and then they freak out.

The end…

It is no wonder there are other endings to the Gospel added. Like alternative endings you find in DVD’s of popular movies, there are two other endings recorded in Mark.

So, is this all just a story? A screenplay? Hardly.

The best evidence is that the last pages of Mark are lost. Seriously, just torn out or ruined. The later translators add endings that match what is already in the other Gospels. But, I like to think of Mark’s ending just like this.

And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Doesn’t that sound like most Christians?

Afraid to talk about our faith because we don’t want to offend anyone. Afraid to talk about Jesus because we don’t want to be asked any hard theological questions. Afraid to share the good news because that means we actually have to live like someone who acts like Jesus. Loving and caring, especially to people we might not want to hang with at all.

It’s as if we are trying to keep Jesus in the tomb. That’s right. He is risen, but we don’t let him out.

If we would simply share the unbelievable joy we receive from Jesus with those around us, the world will change. If we will simply share the story of Jesus with those who are receptive to hearing it, our lives will be overflowing with blessing no matter what is happening around us.

What does it mean to you that Jesus is alive and he rules the world with love and forgiveness? What does it mean to follow a God who says don’t take vengeance, forgive those who wrong you, and help those in need?

This is not a fairy tale. It is the most reasonable and loving thing you can possible do. Share Jesus with others.

Me

Who do you know who could really use Jesus in their life right now? Start praying for them daily and see what happens.

Tuesday February 23- Mary Magdalene

Gratitude

Spend five minutes focusing on a couple of things you appreciate and thank God for them.

Word

Mark 14:3-5

Jesus was in Bethany, at the house of Simon the leper. While he was at table, a woman came up with an alabaster pot containing extremely valuable ointment made of pure spikenard. She broke the pot and poured the ointment on Jesus’ head. 

Content- Quit making stuff up

What do you think of when I say two words?

“Mary Magdalene.”

If you immediately think of a former prostitute who is now Jesus’ friend- “BZZZZZZZZZ” Wrong!

Nowhere in the Bible does it say anything about Mary being a prostitute. She had demons attached to her until Jesus released her from them. That’s it. Not a hooker or a “loose woman” in sight.

Now, Mary Magdalene is an important person in Jesus’ life. She is mentioned about as much as anyone in the New Testament. She also is the first person to announce the resurrection of Jesus. The first evangelist, if you like. But, there still is this “image” problem…

You can thank the over sexualized imaginations of Christians in the Middle Ages for going all “Pretty Woman” on us.

Now, with the woman anointing Jesus with expensive ointment, this is a different Mary anyway. This story is recorded in all four Gospels. In John, we see this is Mary the sister of Lazarus and Martha, a dear friend  of Jesus, as well. 

Me

Pray for our society every time you see a sexualized advertisement today.