Mary Magdalene: the Thirteenth Apostle
“Go to my brothers and tell them, “I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.” John 20:17. This is what Jesus told her to do on the morning of the Resurrection, to go and let everyone know what’s happening. Not a very promising way to announce the most central event in human history. Not a good beginning, sending Mary Magdalene, of all people, with the good news of a brightly dawning eternal day. Isn’t she the woman from whom He had cast out seven, count them, seven devils? Wouldn’t people think that the whiff of those demons might still be in the air around her? Legally speaking, given her past, she does not qualify as a credible witness. A person with her history is not to be trusted. The veracity of any story she may tell is very dubious.
Why did Jesus, the morning He was raised from the dead, appear to Mary Magdalene first? Didn’t He know it could cause trouble? She walked the garden path in the cool dew of the early morning before the light like her ancient mother use to do. Was she speaking with God? Was she talking to herself? A motley band of guards were still hanging around somewhere afraid to report to the authorities. Some of His friends saw the empty tomb and ran back home afraid leaving her behind to weep.
Her first encounter was with two young men clothed in brilliant white sitting inside the empty tomb. They told her to stop her crying. Then she saw the gardener. Was he fretting over the trampled flowers and vegetables that the burial party had left behind? She asked him a question and he answered calling her by her name. Suddenly the light dawned and she reached out to grab hold of yesterday and touch the feet of all untouchable tomorrows. She who loitered behind crying is she who discovered and was sent to tell others.
History took her story and offers it to us anew every day. We know from our own walk in the garden that she tells the truth. We know from our own conversation with the Lord that He is risen. We know from retelling the story that the unbelievable is the truth.