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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Matthew 28:1-7

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. He rolled back the stone and was sitting on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. 4 The guards were so shaken by fear of him that they became like dead men.

5 The angel told the women, “Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here. For he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has risen from the dead and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see him there.’ Listen, I have told you.”

The Original Intent

1) Who were Mary Magdalene and the “other Mary”? (verse 1)

The gospels only record a few words about Mary Magdalene. From her name, we know she came from the town of Magdala. Luke tells us she was healed from seven demons. (Luke 8:2) We don’t know if Mary was truly “possessed” like the man from the Gerasenes (Mark 5:1-17), as ancient culture had no distinction between demonic possession, mental illness, or even trauma.

All of these were associated with “abnormal” behavior likened to “demon possession”. Because Luke concludes his list of women who followed Jesus by stating how they “support(ed) them from their possessions”, scholars suggest Mary was independently wealthy from the sale of her land or home. (Luke 8:3)

Whatever the case, after being healed, Mary began following Jesus. Culturally, this was unheard of as following a Rabbi was reserved only for men. Not so with Jesus!

Mary Magdalene was one of several women who traveled with Jesus along with His twelve disciples. Mary likely served Jesus and the Twelve by preparing meals with the other women and financially providing essentials like food and lodging. John’s gospel account reveals that she followed Jesus all the way to the cross and was the first to see Him after His resurrection. (John 19:25John 20:11-18) 

The ‘other Mary’ is considered the mother of Jesus. She knew the prophecies concerning the promised Messiah as God in the flesh were being fulfilled in her Son. She had sung of God’s faithful goodness when the angel announced she would be His mother. (Luke 1:46-55) She also knew Jesus would suffer a cruel death according to prophecy. It doesn’t appear she actively followed Jesus during His ministry as she had other children to tend to, but she was present for His first miracle, at minimum, and attempted to visit Him. (Mark 3:31John 2:1-11) His mother was also present at Calvary when Jesus died.

Though Mary knew Jesus was the Messiah, she may not have fully understood Christ as her personal Savior until the gathering in the Upper Room. (Acts 1:12-14) In the final hours of Jesus’ life, as Mary watched her precious son die in agony, the prophecy of Simeon was fulfilled as a “sword would pierce (her) own soul”; surely her heart was breaking! (Luke 2:35)

The Everyday Application

1) Who were Mary Magdalene and the “other Mary”? (verse 1)

Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus had different backgrounds, life experiences, and likely even ages, but they shared one constant, Jesus as their Savior. It would be easy to write off these women from an ancient culture, thinking we have nothing in common with them. Yet, just as we all come from various backgrounds, we all need a Savior. 

Jesus wants us to know Him as a HealerJehovah Rapha, as a ProviderJehovah Jirah, as Friend (James 2:23), and as the perfect Fullness of God Himself (Colossians 1:19). We may wrestle with feelings of worthlessness or shame because of our past, sins we are stuck in, or the judgement of others. Or maybe we feel like we are in a very good place, so good, in fact, we don’t seem to need a Savior. But even Jesus’ mother needed a Savior! 

Giving birth to the Messiah, holding Him in her heart and raising Him in her home was not a free pass to Heaven. Just as Jesus died to give life and unshakeable hope to Mary Magdalene and His mother, He is available for us today.

Let’s acknowledge our lack, our loss, our sense of emptiness, our shame, and guilt to the God who gave Himself for us to heal us and make us His own! (Titus 2:14) Jesus loved His disciples and the women who followed Him; Jesus loved everyone He encountered. He loves you.

The Original Intent

2) Why were women the first ones arriving at the tomb?

In ancient culture, the task of preparing a body for burial generally fell to women. Jesus was crucified at sundown on Good Friday, which meant Sabbath had begun and no work could be done according to Old Testament law. (Leviticus 23:3) Tending to a dead body, even a family member, would be considered work. Additionally, Jewish law outlined consequences for touching unclean things, which definitely included a corpse. (Numbers 19:11-13)

In effort to hasten Jesus’ burial before sundown, they simply wrapped His body and laid it in the tomb. Unlike the Egyptians, Jews didn’t embalm bodies as mummies, but they still prepared it in a fashion similar to current, and previous, Western cultural practices. This preparation included various oils, herbs, and spices, which is why the women were present at the tomb the morning after the Sabbath.

Of course, Jesus’ mother, Mary, would have been there, as any mother would. She, who had tended Him from birth, would surely now tend Him in death. Mary Magdalene, and other women who had faithfully followed Jesus, would join her for both emotional and physical support.

The Everyday Application

2) Why were women the first ones arriving at the tomb?

Mary Magdalene and Jesus’ mother were not the first women to faithfully love and serve God. Throughout Scripture, God honors women and purposes them for His glory, starting with His promise to the first woman, Eve. Even amid punishment for her sin, He held out a promise that one day a Redeemer would come to crush Satan’s head. (Genesis 3:15) 

Many stories of women esteemed by God, and used for His purposes, are recorded in the Old and New Testaments. The midwives who hid Moses from Pharaoh (Exodus 1:15-21), Deborah, the wise judge (Judges 4:1-14), and Jael, the brave woman who acted with swift justice (Judges 4:17-22).  Zechariah’s wife, Elizabeth, served Yahweh as the mother of John the Baptist. She surrendered her body and her life to the Lord’s work at an age when she was far past childbearing years. (Luke 1:5-19The widow, Anna, faithfully prayed every day in the temple as she waited for the coming Messiah. She realized her prayers were fulfilled when Joseph and Mary appeared at the temple to present their infant Jesus to the priests as required by law. When she saw the tiny baby, she knew she beheld the Messiah. God used many women, from vastly different backgrounds and lifestyles to fulfill His eternal plan. 

Tamar (Genesis 38:6-30), Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), Rahab (Joshua 2:1-22), Ruth (Ruth 1-4), and Mary (Luke 1-2) are even included in the lineage of Jesus! (Matthew 1:1-16)

The Original Intent

3) Why was an angel sent as the messenger instead of Jesus Himself? (verses 5-7)

God’s heart character is love and active humility. He demonstrates this repeatedly through Scripture, and in the Church today, by drawing others to do His work and be intimately involved in His mission. God didn’t send an angel to die for the sins of the world, only He could do that, and so He did. God’s master plan for telling the world the good news about His sacrifice on our behalf, however, is a joyous work that He freely shares and invites us to participate in with Him.

Of course, Jesus could have sat atop the rolled away stone to declare His own resurrection, but this doesn’t fit with His heart character of humble love. His ministry on earth was never about elevating Himself. God chose an angel to declare the Good News of Christ’s victory over death to set an example for us to go and do likewise as His ambassadors to the world. Scripture describes angels as messengers from God and provides many examples of them communicating His divine plan to humans.

Each instance in the Bible may look different, but there was generally no mistaking that these were Heavenly beings sent by God to either make known His willful purposes or protect His people. Angels came to Lot’s door warning him to leave Sodom before its destruction. (Genesis 19:15-17) Angels appeared to Daniel (Daniel 10:5-6), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 10), Joshua (Joshua 5:13-14), Mary (Luke 1:26-38), and many others. The shepherds heard of the Messiah’s birth from a group of angels (Luke 2:8-14), and many angels are found in the book of Revelation (Revelation 7:1-2).

Angels are God’s appointed Heavenly Messengers, and as Christ’s resurrection was the most important message ever, it was first heralded by an angel with God’s own stamp of divine approval, wrapped in His humble love for mankind.

The Everyday Application

3) Why was an angel sent as the messenger instead of Jesus Himself? (verses 5-7)

Angels are messengers and protectors even in the 21st century. That time you are running late could be God’s hand of protection over you as you encounter a traffic accident happening moments before. If you have encountered someone intent on evil against you, then suddenly you are guarded, this is God’s ordained protection for you; He may well have used angels to accomplish this work.

Angels are not present everywhere in every place like God and His presence; they exist to do God’s bidding and worship Him as created Heavenly beings. (Hebrews 1:14Psalm 34:7) Though God created angels as powerful beings, they are not worthy of worship and are not all-knowing like God. All things are under God’s authority and purposes.

Christ died to save humanity and bring us redemption, but He did not do this for angels, neither do we “become” angels when we die. Just as God ordained angels as the first messengers to announce both Christ’s birth and His resurrection, so are we commissioned with the same gloriously divine message. When we read of an angel’s proclamation from God, let’s be encouraged to actively proclaim the good news of Jesus that He offers freedom from sin and shame through His sacrifice on our behalf!

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