In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. According to Scripture, who is the first person to go to the tomb of the LORD Jesus after He was buried? Answer: Mary Magdalene. Jesus had once healed her, exorcizing seven demons from her (Luke 8:2)
. We can't begin to imagine what her life was like. She was lower than low and practically freaked people out. She must have been repulsive. "Total loser" would have been an understatement. But Jesus came for sinners--people dead in their trespasses and sins like you and me.
Jesus did not hesitate to love her and have mercy on her. He healed her and she became one of the Lord's most ardent believers. What happened from there was amazing. Not only does she have the distinction of going to Jesus' tomb first (while the apostles were hiding out), but after everyone else left, Jesus appears to her first (John 20:11)
. Mary Magdalene went on to be the first proclaimer of the resurrection of Christ (John 20:18)
. The one so lowly was the one lifted up so highly! Why? Because Jesus is for sinners, even the absolute worst of them!
But we must not forget that the Scriptural testimony about Mary is not random. Her lowest point was when she was possessed by demons (a seemingly hopeless situation), but her highest point is right here in Mark 16. This time she was with the risen Lord. She witnessed firsthand that Jesus even has power over death. No wonder the demons must obey His commands! While the raising of Christ is attributed to both the Father (Acts 2:24)
and to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1)
, it is--in true Trinitarian fashion--credited also to Jesus Himself. Jesus said, "No one takes [my life] from me. . . I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again" (John 10:18)
This One is the Master of the wind and the waves, the Master of all disease and disability, the One with all authority over principalities and powers. . . and yes, even the Master over death. Mary had already experienced His power, and now the rest of the world would know for whom His power is especially made known: exceptional sinners like Mary Magdalene, and like you and me! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Almighty God the Father, through Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, You have overcome death and opened the gate of everlasting life to us. Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of our Lord's resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by Your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Resurrection of Our Lord)
The Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa is the pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine, CA. He is also the author of two books : Faith That Sees Through the Culture and Faith That Engages the Culture.