Mary Magdalene’s testimony, January 20

After the crucifixion, Mary Magdalene was distraught because she thought someone had taken the body. John 20:14 says, “she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. “Woman”, he said, “why are you crying? Who is it that you are looking for?” Thinking that it was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. (John 20:14-18, NIV)
I love the honesty of this story, because it captures Mary’s emotions and confusion. A work of fiction would not include details like her failure to recognize Jesus at first, and her thinking that he was the gardener. And a Hebrew literary work from this time would not have made a woman such a central character in this discovery—women were not considered legal witnesses, and did not have social standing that justified her inclusion in this event. John actually risks all credibility by telling the truth, so the logical conclusion is that this has to be true. If it was an attempt to convince others of the plausibility of Jesus’ resurrection, John went about it all wrong. He should have had Peter or James meet the risen Lord first, and he should have made it seamlessly perfect. But Mary’s testimony is valuable because it IS true, and it has significance because it is told so simply and so accurately. And John’s gospel is noteworthy because he ignores social convention. He tells the truth when a lie would have been easier. Probably a good practice for all of us.

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