For centuries, Bible teachers have told stories and those stories have been repeated and expounded upon and retold and retold. But what if the retelling is completely false? How many people sit under regular Bible teaching and simply accept what they’re being taught without a second glance at the scripture the story is being told from?
In my journey through John, I have come across many stories that I were told in a certain way, only to learn that what I was told wasn’t the real story at all. This isn’t necessarily the fault of current teachers for they are only repeating what they were told and those who told it were doing the same. The thing is, by retelling the same stories over and over again, we might just be missing out on a miraculous truth. And that is what I have recently discovered for myself.
In John 20, we come across Mary Magdalene at the garden tomb. Mary is often depicted as a fallen women, unworthy of the calling of Christ. All we truly know is that she had been oppressed by seven spirits and Jesus set her free. After that, she became a follower—a disciple—of Christ.
Mary (along with several other women) came to Jesus’ burial place to anoint His body as an act of final love and devotion. She found the tomb open and empty and was greeted by two angels. When they proved to be of no help to her, she turned and was met by another man she did not recognise. We soon discover the man to be none other than Jesus Himself.
So why is this little portion of scripture so significant? Because Mary Magdalene wasn’t the only woman in a garden described in the Bible. And she isn’t the only one who has been painted with the wrong brush over the centuries.
Now the snake was the most cunning of all living beings Yaweh-God had made. He deviously asked the woman, “Did God really tell you, ‘You must not eat the fruit from any tree of the garden…?'”
But the woman interrupted, “—We may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden, except the tree in the center of the garden. God told us, ‘Don’t eat its fruit, or even touch it, or you’ll die.'”
But the snake said to her, “You won’t certainly die. God knows that the moment you eat it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the tree produced delicious fruit, delightful to look upon, and desirable to give one insight, she took its fruit and ate it. She gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he also ate it. Immediately, their eyes were opened, and they realized they were naked, vulnerable, and ashamed; so they sewed fig leaves together for coverings.Genesis 3:1-7 (TPT)
Eve is quite often painted as the temptress, the one who gave into the serpent’s cunning and deceived Adam. According to this account, Adam was present for the whole exchange. Also note that their eyes weren’t opened until both had eaten of the fruit.
Pretty much since the beginning of time, men have used this account to prove that women are incapable of making decisions—those are better left to the men in their lives. We are told that it’s women who lead men astray—as though men are not responsible for their own thoughts and actions. It is often suggested that Eve is solely responsible for the fall of mankind. And this is how the church has proceeded in thought through the ages.
And then we come back to Mary Magdalene. Because of the brush Eve has been painted with, Mary must also be drawn as a fallen woman, a woman incapable of making her own decisions, a woman who is nothing more than a weak, weeping creature who can do nothing more than collapse at the empty tomb, her tears being so plentiful that she can’t even recognise Jesus standing before her.
But what if that isn’t the story being told at all? John says later in chapter 20 that all he wrote was so that we will fully believe that Jesus is the Anointed One, the Son of God. How can a story of a weak, weeping woman bring us to believe in Jesus the Anointed One?
After His resurrection, Jesus could have revealed Himself to anyone. John and Peter had already been to the empty tomb. They came and went and Jesus didn’t show. It was to Mary that Jesus revealed Himself.
Then she turned around to leave, and there was Jesus standing in front of her, but she didn’t realize that it was him!
He said to her, “Dear woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”
Mary answered, thinking he was only the gardener, “Sir, if you have taken his body somewhere else, tell me, and I will go and…”
“Mary,” Jesus interrupted her.
Turning to face him, she said, “Rabboni!” (Aramaic for “my teacher”)John 20:14-16 (TPT)
Mary Magdalene was the very first person to begin a new relationship with Jesus. Again, He could have chosen anyone—John, the disciple whom He loved, Peter, James, even Thomas—but He chose a woman. He chose Mary Magdalene.
I believe this account is so important because it not only restores the place of humanity to a right relationship with Christ, but it restores the place of women who had and have been beaten down to a place of submission for millennia. Women were never meant to be subservient to men, but helpers who walked beside them. Jesus revealing His glorified self to Mary only solidifies this place.
There is still so much more to compare between these two portions of scripture and I strongly urge you, reader, to dig in for yourself. Don’t simply take the word of a teacher, but go to the Word of God Himself. Allow Him to be your teacher and allow Him to reveal His Truth to you and through you.