CHESTINE SIMS JR. : Run say that

The #metoo movement and resurrection stories in scripture are about women who are credible witnesses. They bring shocking news to skeptical people. Even though the disciples have no reason not to believe those women who traveled with them for some time, the women, in general, were not believed.

Their witness was not even admissible in court under Jewish law. Their culture was one of patriarchy where women had no public credibility.

Yet in the story of the resurrection, women are the last people to leave the foot of the cross and the first to receive the good news of the empty tomb, and God chooses Mary Magdalene to preach the very first Easter sermon.

Early on Easter morning, Mary Magdalene makes a dramatic appearance. She arrives before Peter, John or any of the other men.

While it was still dark, she and other women made their way to the grave. Mary and her companions were the first of Jesus’ disciples to make the journey.

When Mary arrives at the tomb, she sees that the stone has been removed from the tomb (John 20:1 NKJV). This upset her as she assumed the body had been stolen.

Then Mary runs to Peter and John and says to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have put him” (John 20:2). Notice that she calls Jesus “The Lord,” and she says to them, “We” don’t know where they put him. In doing so, she identifies herself and other women as part of the community of followers of Jesus.

In other words, there were more than 12 disciples, and not all of them were men. In fact, according to Mark 16:1-2, three women showed up at Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning. And because Jesus treated Mary Magdalene with dignity and esteem, never as a second-class citizen, that seems to be the attitude of Peter and John. They take her seriously and respond by running to the tomb.

Finally, Jesus instructs Mary to “Go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my father and your father, to my God and your God'” (John 20:17). In other words, he said to Mary, “run to announce the good news of my resurrection”. She runs carrying a message that she has seen the risen saviour. She announces to the disciples: “I have seen the Lord” (John 20:18).

Easter is the day of resurrection. But more than that, Easter is the remembrance of women on mission. African-American women recognize Mary Magdalene as the first to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus and proclaim her the patroness of their public voice.

Jarena Lee justifies her contested call to preach by appealing to Mary Magdalene. She said, “Didn’t Mary first preach the risen Saviour?”

In defense of her right to speak in public as a woman, pre-war essayist, orator and political philosopher Maria Stewart asked, “Didn’t Mary Magdalene say the first time the resurrection of Christ from the dead?”

The black spirituals proclaim that “Mary came running at dawn in search of the saviour, tell me where he lay”.

But the ultimate story told on Easter Day is the story of a risen savior who did not come down from the cross because he decided to die to save mankind. He was born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate; He was crucified; He died and was buried.

But on Easter morning He rose with all the power in His hands. And because he lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. An empty grave is there to prove that our savior lives.

Be encouraged!

Reverend Chestine Sims Jr. of White Hall is pastor of Union AME Church in Little Rock. Please join the church for worship on Facebook Live at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Editor’s Note: Pastors, ministers, or other writers interested in writing for this section may submit articles for consideration at [email protected] Writers must have ties to southeast Arkansas. Please include your name, phone number, and the name and location of your church or ministry.

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