A veil of tears

1 Apr

MaryMagdaleneBut Mary stood outside the tomb weeping.

Mary — the first on the scene. Confusion. The stone’s been moved from across the entrance. Panic. Wait, no body? What the… Quick, Peter, he’ll know what to do. Or John. Come on! They’ve taken him. Gone. Gone!

Peter and John did little but confirm what she already new. He’d gone. And Mary understood no more than they did. But when the disciples went home,

Mary stood outside the tomb weeping.

Maybe it is unfair and a gross gender stereotype, but — typical men. “No point hanging around moping, nothing we can do now. And anyway, if we’re not careful we might get accused of nicking the body. Best get home…”

But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping.

Mary’s tears kept her where she needed to be, the place where she would be the first to meet the risen Jesus. Yet the same tears blinded her from seeing him. Through a veil of tears her eyes were kept from seeing; it was his voice that penetrated the grief.


John was right. “He calls his own by name and […] they recognize his voice.”

“Rabboni.” Teacher. But wait, it can’t be. Master. Is it you? Lord. Jesus. It is you. OMG…

“Go and tell my brothers.”

MaryMagdalene1“Who, me?”

“Go and tell my brothers.”

“But they just left…

“Go and tell my brothers.”

“What if they don’t believe me?”

“Go and tell my brothers.”

“But I’m only a woman.”

“Go and tell my brothers.”

Even in death, Jesus turned the tables on the sidelining of women that ran through the society he lived in. Who else would choose a woman as the first and — until that time at least — only witness of his resurrection? The Talmud is clear:

Any evidence which a woman (gives) is not valid (to offer)…This is equivalent to saying that one who is rabbinically accounted a robber is qualified to give the same evidence as a woman (Rosh Hashannah 1.8).

And Josephus was no less blunt:

But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex…since it is probable that they may not speak truth, either out of hope of gain, or fear of punishment (Josephus, Antiquities 4.8.15).

MaryMagdalene-NoliMeTangereEaster is about resurrection. Life conquering death. The vindication of the Son of God before all creation. A way into eternity being paved for humanity. A message of hope and purpose. All entrusted to a woman.

Its significance may be lost on us today, accustomed as we are to the Hillary Clintons and Angela Merkels of this world. But the Bible is to be lived in its context, and this was momentous. A woman, bearer of the good news of the resurrection. Mind-blowing. Quite simply unthinkable.

In this deliberate act of cultural rebellion, Jesus, the risen Lord, delivers another blow to the male-dominated status quo of his day. Faithful to the script he had lived throughout his earthly pilgrimage, so now in his life-after-death. Mary. The one he had healed. The one he had delivered…

“Go and tell my brothers.”

“I have seen the Lord.”


2 Responses to “A veil of tears”

  1. afruitinseason April 2, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    I wonder what the equivalent “despised witness” would look like today? Any ideas?

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