The first witness and proclaimer of the good news of Jesus’ resurrection was Mary Magdalene. In all four gospel accounts women played a key role in witnessing and proclaiming this good news. And in the history of the church right up to the present day it is oftentimes women who are the most faithful in proclaiming and sharing their witness.
Of course it really doesn’t matter who the Lord first appeared to. But God chose the women. Women are as gifted and therefore set apart to be witnesses and proclaim the gospel every bit as much as men. And in that culture it seems like this point was made in spades, underlined by what first happened after Jesus’ resurrection when he appeared first to women.
What does it take to be a witness? Simply put, an encounter with the risen Christ. Even for us who have yet to see him, by the Spirit through the power of the gospel we have indeed met the resurrected Lord. We witness to that, to the truth of his resurrection and to the difference that makes in our lives, as well as the promise that holds for the world, for all creation. Telling people everywhere that they need to repent of their own ways and believe this good news and follow.
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he 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 ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending 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.