The New Living Translation
Mary’s Testimony: He Is Risen From the Dead

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.” Mark 16:9, NLT

Heavens

Devotional from the Dancing in the Desert Devotional Bible

In a legal setting, the testimony of a woman was considered unreliable, subject to undue influences of the heart and imagination and therefore inadmissible. Men of the first century—Jewish, Greek, Roman, Arab—all held this view, albeit in varying degrees. They easily dismissed the words of a woman if those words didn’t fit their assumptions. The disciples rejected Mary Magdalene’s testimony of having seen Jesus (16:11), and they were later rebuked for that by Jesus himself (16:14). Yet of all the followers of Jesus—of all those whom the biblical text refers to as disciples, whether directly or by implication—Jesus appeared first to Mary and the women with her. Not only that, he sent her to tell the news to the men (Matthew 28:10).

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Some biblical scholars consider this one of the clearest signs of the Gospel’s authenticity. No man of the first century would fabricate a story about a miracle and then undermine it by having women as the first witnesses to it. It had to be true. But Jesus held an unusual view of women, and Mary of Magdala seemed to be foremost among the women who followed him. She is listed first in every mention of female followers of Jesus, who apparently traveled with him throughout Galilee and, at least on this unusual occasion, to Jerusalem for Passover. We don’t know much about Mary other than the fact that she had been tormented by demons before she met Jesus and then followed him closely But we do know that no other rabbi at this point included women in his circle of followers. Jesus did, even though the sight of women traveling with men who weren’t their relatives surely unnerved a lot of people. And on this trip to Jerusalem, it was good they were there. Many women watched from a distance as Jesus hung dying (Matthew 27:55), long after most of the men had fled.

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Mary probably thought she was only going to Jerusalem for Passover, never envisioning Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb. But when he was executed and her world shattered, she remained there. She came to the tomb with her companions, not to witness a resurrection, but to anoint a body. And Jesus put her world together again, better than before, and gave her a testimony for the ages.

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