Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Primary Witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Primary Witness of the Resurrection Mary Magdalene as one of the leading women who followed Jesus Christ. She witnessed some of the most important events in all of recorded history--the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. She was such an important witness of these historical events that each of the four gospels mentions her. She was a wealthy woman who had served Jesus Christ during his ministry and given him financial support. The four gospels were written from four different perspectives over a period of 30 to 40 years. The fact that each gospel names her shows that she was well known as the primary witness to the resurrection. The other disciples, except John, had forsaken Jesus Christ and fled from his crucifixion and burial. However, Mary Magdalene remained close to him, and she was the first person to see Jesus Christ freed from the chains of death. Seven Demons Why was Mary Magdalene such a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ? Well one reason is that she was very thankful because Jesus Christ had cast seven demons out of her as recorded in Luke 8:1-2. "1And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, 2And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils," (KJV) Mary was not the only woman who followed Jesus Christ or whom he had healed of diseases of mind and body. Yet, Luke specifically mentions her because Christ had cast seven demons out of her. Jesus Christ had set her free from the bondage of the demonic world. Prostitute Allegation Mary Magdalene has often been misunderstood and has been accused of being a prostitute. However, the Bible nowhere identifies her as a prostitute. Why then do many people think that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute? Luke records an incident in which a woman who was a public sinner washed the feet of Jesus Christ with her tears. Some people think that Mary Magdalene was this woman. This incident is recorded in Luke 7:36-39: "36And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. 37And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. 39Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner." (KJV) However, scholars think Mary Magdalene is likely not the same woman called a sinner in Like 7:39 because Luke does not provide the name of the woman in Luke 7, but he specifically names Mary Magdalene in Luke 8:1-3. Allegation that She Was Married to Jesus Christ Some books such as Holy Blood, Holy Grail and the The Da Vinci Code allege that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene. One of the arguments for Mary Magdalene being married to Jesus Christ is that one of the Gnostic texts states that Jesus Christ kissed Mary. However, greeting one another with a holy kiss was common in that time even as the apostle Paul commanded in Romans 16:16 and in three other places in his epistles. Gnostic writings were never accepted as a part of the canon of scripture. Even the Gnostic texts nowhere state that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene or any other woman. Some people argue that Jesus Christ had to have been married because the disciples sometimes called him "rabbi" (Mark 11:21), and a rabbi was usually married. They called him rabbi or master as a title of respect. The word for rabbi or master in Mark 11:21 can mean "my great one or my honorable sir." However, Jesus Christ was technically not a Jewish rabbi and he nowhere stated that he was a rabbi. The disciples sometimes called him a rabbi because he was their teacher, but Jesus Christ did not hold the official Jewish title of rabbi. According to Smith's Bible Dictionary, there were various forms of the title rabbi with different levels of honor. The lowest level was rab, which meant master. The next level was rabbi, which meant my master; next came rabban, which meant our master; and the highest level was Rabboni, which meant my great master. In Mark 11:28, the Jews asked him by what authority he did certain things because they knew that he did not hold any kind of formal Jewish position of authority. There is simply no hard evidence that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene or any other woman. The vast majority of scholars, whether they are liberal or conservative, agree that Jesus Christ was not married. At the Crucifixion and Burial Mary Magdalene was present at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as recorded in Matthew 27:55-56. "55And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: 56Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedees children." (KJV) While other disciples had forsaken Jesus Christ at his crucifixion, Mary Magdalene and many women showed great courage in being at the crucifixion. Women value relationships very highly. Mary Magdalene valued her relationship as a disciple of Jesus Christ. She was determined to stand by him until the very end. She remembered the healing that he had given her when he cast the seven demons out of her. He had given her a new life, and she would stand by him even in his death. Mary Magdalene was also present at the burial of Jesus Christ as recorded in Matthew 27:59-61. "59And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. 61And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre." (KJV) Yes, Mary Magdalene was also present at the burial of Christ. As the First Day of Unleavened Bread drew near, Mary Magdalene was there to witness the burial of her master and lord. She would later return to the tomb to anoint his body with spices, but she would not find Jesus Christ there. Witness to the Resurrection The Apostle John records how Mary Magdalene was a witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ in John 20:1-2. "1The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. 2Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the LORD out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him." (KJV) Mary was disturbed. If Jesus Christ were not alive, she wanted to still touch his body and anoint it with spices. She did not want to let go of her master to whom she was so devoted. She persuaded Peter and John to go to the tomb. They ran to it and looked inside. Then the disciples went home, but Mary Magdalene did not go home. Just as she had remained close to Jesus Christ at his crucifixion and burial, she would remain close to his empty tomb until she saw two angels inside it. The Apostle John goes on to describe the conversation that Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ had after his resurrection in John 20:13-17: "13And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my LORD, and I know not where they have laid him. 14And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 15Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. 16Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. 17Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." (KJV) The Greek work for touch in verse 17 is Haptomai. It means "to cling to." Jesus Christ told Mary Magdalene not to cling to him because his mission was not over until he had ascended to the Father. Jesus Christ gave Mary Magdalene the mission of informing the disciples that he had risen from the dead and would ascend to his Father. An apostle is one who is sent (Acts 1:21-22). Jesus Christ sent Mary Magdalene to tell his disciples, who would become apostles, that he was alive. For this reason, some early writings refer to Mary Magdalene as the apostle to the apostles. However, she had no authority as an apostle in any official capacity. She was not one of the 12. However, she was honored for her example and devotion. The fact that Jesus Christ first appeared to a woman and made her a witness of his resurrection is one of the strongest proofs of the truth or historicity of the resurrection account. Jewish law did not recognize a woman's testimony. According to Mark 16:10-11, when Mary Magdalene told the disciples that she had seen Jesus Christ alive, they did not believe her. However, women were important to Jesus Christ. He appreciated their devotion, especially the devotion of Mary Magdalene. He valued the opinions and the testimony of a woman. If the account of Jesus Christ's resurrection were a mere fable, Mary Magdalene would never have been listed as its first witness. Conclusion Mary Magdalene was a wealthy woman; she was a financial success. However, she did not achieve spiritual success until later. Seven demons had possessed her, but Jesus Christ cast them out and healed her. She made changes in her life and became a success story. She sought Jesus Christ with persistence; she sought him with courage; and she sought him with humility. As a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene serves as an inspiring role model for each of us.

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