After Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.
Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.
When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
Have you ever had a similar experience to Mary Magdalene? She had an amazingly exciting story to tell, and no one would believe her. How must she have felt? How did you feel if such a thing has ever happened to you? All sorts of negative emotions must have come to the fore: anger, frustration, resentment and righteous indignation, to mention just a few! But, why didn’t the disciples believe her, and what emotions must have flooded the room as the risen Jesus stood amongst them and upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness?
Mary was the first witness to the resurrection of Jesus. The one from whom he had cast out seven demons was afforded the privilege of being the first. But, that privilege was also a burden. It is a sign that Jesus forgives even the worst of sins, providing the repentance is sincere. It was also an indication to future generations of disciples that their testimony to the risen Jesus would not be readily accepted by many.
In Mark’s account of this post-resurrection time we also hear that the disciples did not just reject the testimony of Mary Magdalene, they also rejected the testimony of the disciples who journeyed with Jesus to their home in Emmaus. No matter how real the words of those witnesses to the truth, even Jesus’ eleven closest companions joined the nay-sayers in disbelieving the truth.
People struggle to believe that which they see as defying the laws of nature. People die, and that death in this world is final; people do not come back from the dead. This makes the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ a difficult message for some to believe. To live the life of faith, is to live a life based on something that is beyond our human understanding, something that is truly divine.
We are the latest generation of disciples and apostles to be called into our Lord’s service. That service entails our own response to the testimony of Mary Magdalene and the disciples on the road to Emmaus. We should not be swayed by the scepticism of the disciples, and nor should we be swayed by the scepticism of those who feel that scientific theories provide us with all the answers we need.
Let us pray that we might stand firm in our faith, a faith based on the certainty that Christ rose from the dead. Let us pray that we might stand firm in the face of those who turn their back on the truth of Christ’s resurrection. Let us pray that we might not hesitate in proclaiming the Good News of the risen Christ. Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!