Because Jesus sent Mary Magdalene to the other disciples with the good news of the resurrection, she has been called “the apostle to the apostles.”

Who Saw the Risen Christ?

Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene, Mark 16:1-11
Mary Magdalene and the Other Mary, Matthew 28:1-10
Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary of James, Luke 24:1-11
Mary Magdalene, John 20:1-18

Others Who Saw the Risen Christ

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Touch Me Not; Mary Magdalene meets the risen Christ. Click to enlarge. See below for provenance.
Mary Magdalene, Mark 16:1-11 (4/5/2010)

Years and years ago, my pastor, the late Rev. Dr. Robert Templeton, commented one Sunday that our faith does not rest on any one story told by any one person.  We know where it came from:  a five-thousand year history of theological development by eye-witnesses to miracles, to God’s care for his people, and to the changed lives of our forefathers and mothers after they have spent time in the company of God.  This month, we are going to share the stories and experiences of the people – several hundred people – who saw the risen Christ.  Many of them didn’t recognize him at first; after all, they knew he was dead and weren’t expecting to run into him.  Some at first thought he was a ghost.  Only a few believed what they had been told by someone else.  Some didn’t believe until they not only saw but touched his resurrected body. 
Mary Magdalene is named as an eye-witness in all four Gospels.  Some of the Gospels say that other women were with her, either before or when Jesus appeared.  Luke doesn’t say that she saw Jesus, only that she and the other women saw the angels.  Much has been made of these small discrepancies, but they don’t bother me.  Eye-witness testimony tends to be told from as many points of view as there are witnesses; when everyone agrees on the small details, sometimes it means that they have collaborated on their story. 
We will read Mary Magdalene’s story first, because she was apparently the first person to see Jesus after his resurrection. 

Mary Magdalene and the Other Mary, Matthew 28:1-10 (4/6/2010)

Matthew very often quotes Mark word for word, so when his Gospel differs from Mark, it’s often because he got information from an additional source.  Other times it’s more a matter of style – Mark tends to be the Joe Friday of  Gospel writers:  Just the facts, ma’am.  Matthew tends to add material of special interest to his audience of Jewish Christians.  In Mary Magdalene’s story, Matthew mentions the guards at the tomb, while Mark ignores them.  Both Matthew and Mark agree that the Sabbath was over before Mary Magdalene and her friends went to the tomb.  There had not been time before the Sabbath to do more than hastily wrap the body and lay it in the tomb, so they came back very early on the first day of the week to prepare it for burial properly. 

Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary of James, Luke 24:1-11 (4/7/2010)

The other day in a letter to Dear Abby, a woman was unhappy with her step-mother for telling all sorts of nonsense stories in front of her father, who is already having trouble staying in touch with reality because of early dementia.  Abby told her to tell her step-mother to knock it off.  My reaction was a little different:  maybe the step-mother is in the early stages of dementia, and the woman needs to take her in for one of Abby’s famous exams “from the neck both ways.” 
The apostles thought Mary Magdalene and her friends were talking nonsense.  When somebody comes to us with a crazy story, our first inclination is to think, like the apostles, that the person is (1) confused, (2) joking, or (3) lying.  But sometimes, (4) they’re right!

Mary Magdalene, John 20:1-18 (4/8/2010)

John tells Mary Magdalene’s story a tad differently from Matthew, Mark, and Luke, probably for two reasons.  First, when the church leaders asked him to write his Gospel, they wanted him to concentrate on events that weren’t recorded in the three existing Gospels, e.g., that two disciples immediately ran to the tomb after the women came and told them what had happened.  Second, the “other disciple” is universally understood to be John himself.  He was at the tomb and the other Gospel writers weren’t, and he wanted to give his own eye-witness testimony!  Nevertheless, John agrees that Mary Magdalene was the first to see the risen Christ.

Others Who Saw the Risen Christ
Mary Magdalene
The Twelve Disciples
Other Disciples
Special Cases and Visions

Copyright 2010, 2013 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.

The woodcut showing Jesus and Mary Magdalene after the resurrection is from the family Bible of John O. Spencer and Lydia Bunn, married 18 Nov. 1857 in Hector, Schuyler Co., NY. A complete listing of the posted images from this Bible is given at
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Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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