In the garden with the resurrected Jesus, the woman who had been a prostitute is the first to meet the risen Lord.
It is the great reversal of the first garden story. In the garden of Eden, after the couple eats from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the two of them hide from God. It is God who comes looking for them. They leave the garden that day and bring the rest of humanity with them, outside the garden of God’s presence.
On Easter Sunday, Mary is looking for God in the garden when God shows up and calls her by name. She thinks he is the gardener, and in many ways, he is. He is the One who prunes away the dead and diseased portions of our lives so that bright shoots and fresh fruit might grow. He is the Living Water that gives life so that we, his seeds, might never thirst again. He is the Vine that produces the fruits of the Spirit in our life.
Jesus is the God who makes all things new, all the way back to the garden of Eden. Whatever sin and shame Adam and Eve birthed into the world, Jesus buries it in the tomb upon his resurrection. He greets Mary Magdalene—who already trusts Jesus as her Master and Teacher—by name, and seals the deal on her salvation. No more will the chains of the world hold her, or anyone, down. God has done his saving work so that all can walk again with him in the garden, known by name and cherished.
Points of Reflection
- Have there been times in your life when you did not recognize the Lord’s work in the moment, only for someone (or for God) to show you his hand later on?
- What does it mean to you to know that Jesus conquered sin and death? What personal shame or guilt is sealed now in the tomb, because of Jesus’ resurrection?
For the Kids
- How do you think you would have reacted to seeing Jesus, whom you thought was dead, alive and walking around?
When is the last time you shared the story of an encounter you had with Jesus, whether it was a momentous one or a quiet one? Reflect on a recent moment in which you saw God’s work or heard God’s voice in your life. Follow Mary’s example and tell someone this week about what God said to you or revealed to you through your prayer, Bible study, meditation, or other spiritual practice. Telling our personal stories helps us incarnate Jesus’s love so that others can experience it and begin to see it for themselves.
The more I read Scripture, the more God seems to shine a spotlight on the women in its pages, asking me to consider what they’re doing there. Their lives and stories are often told in contrast to political power, oppression, and violence. This happens throughout the Bible but perhaps nowhere more explicitly than in the gospels, with Jesus and women like Mary Magdalene, Martha, Mary, and others. Sarah Bessey’s book, Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women is a call to the church to embrace the diverse and important voices of women, just as Jesus demonstrated their worth and value in his own ministry.
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