Mary Magdalene giving news of the Resurrection to the Disciples. Painting by Philip Hermogenes Calderon

He is risen. Jesus Christ who was crucified along with two bandits on Good Friday had risen from death. He laid down His life for the people of the world, and through His resurrection he has defeated death and has given us hope of everlasting life.

This is the basic summary of what Easter means to Christians the world over. Easter, is probably the most important day in the Christian calendar, the reason being that this is the foundation on which Christianity is built upon.

There are other significant events in the Christian calendar. Some may consider Christmas as the most important event since it signifies the birth of Christ. Christmas is important and deserves to be celebrated. But, Easter has lot more reasons to be celebrated. Simply put, there wouldn’t be Christianity if Christ had remained dead. The fact that he was raised from the dead becomes the foundation of Christianity.

The Good News proclaimed
For Christians, the death of Jesus has more significance. It is a lot more than a mere event. It is significant because it is believed that He died for the sins of the world. It is believed that man is born with sin thanks to the very first sin committed in the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve.

Therefore, it is believed that man is born with sin. The Bible says that the sins of every man, which was borne on that cross, would be forgiven if we repent and accept Jesus as the Saviour. Every Church has been proclaiming the Good News (Gospel) of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the salvation that mankind had received through His death and resurrection.

But, who first witnessed the resurrection of Christ? To whom did He reveal Himself first? It was not to any of the 12 disciples, technically 11 since Judas was out of the equation after betraying Jesus. It was a woman, a fact rarely talked about and is lost in the celebrity of Easter.

On the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion, a woman went to the tomb where Jesus was laid and saw that the stone covering the entrance had been moved. The woman was Mary Magdalene, one of the followers of Jesus.

According to the Gospel of St. John, she stood outside weeping and then peeped into the tomb. Two Angels were seated on the place where the body was laid. She explains to the Angels that she cannot locate the body of Jesus Christ. She then turns and sees Jesus, but fails to recognize Him. She assumes Him to be a gardener and asks what had happened to Jesus’ body.

He responds, “Mary”, and then she realizes who she was talking to. Soon after the unexpected encounter with Jesus, she runs all the way to see His disciples and tells them what she saw. Everyone knows that it was Mary Magdalene who saw Jesus first. But very few realize that she was the first person who told the good news to the world, a woman.

It was Mary. She was the first to spread the good news of Christ’s resurrection. That was the first Gospel. Mary assumed that the body of Jesus had been stolen. It is believed that Mary found Jesus because she tirelessly sought him. Likewise it is said that Jesus comes to those who are tireless in their search for Him.

It is said that the Angels helped Mary to ‘process’ what had happened. According to the Gospel of Luke, “They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus” (Luke 24:1-2).

The angel said to Mary, “Woman, why are you crying?”. “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

The angels replied, “’Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again’” (Luke 24:5-7).

John 14:16 records that she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned toward him and cried out ‘Rabboni!’, which is Aramaic for ‘Teacher’.

John 20:17-18 describes how the meeting ends when Christ says, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Mary Magdalene then runs to the disciples, a woman bringing to the world the Good News which was Easter.

Painting Noli me tangere by Antonio da Correggio
Painting Noli me tangere by Antonio da Correggio