We started a series on Easter Sunday with this title. Pastor Cory highlighted "doubting" Thomas in the Easter Story. It was a refreshing character study on one of the disciples who played a role in the events that took place. You can listen in on that message here: www.cfparis.church/watch
There is another character I want to highlight who also played a major role in the Easter story. This person was not technically labeled as a disciple or at least as one of the twelve. This person did, however faithfully follow Jesus and, I would argue, more faithfully followed Jesus than most of the twelve. This person was an outcast, untrusted, considered unreliable and unworthy. This person was not held in high esteem. Yet, Jesus, after conquering death revealed Himself to her first. Yes, before Thomas and before Peter and before John, before any of the twelve knew that Jesus had resurrected, Mary Magdalene witnessed the risen Lord.
During a time when culture said that the presence of women and children was of no consequence, Jesus elevated the status of the lowly and of the outcast. Jesus made sure Mary knew how valuable she was to God. All four gospels record that Mary Magdalene was there when Jesus was put on the cross. Three of the four gospels say she was there at Jesus’ burial. And all four say that she was the first to see Jesus resurrected.
John's account of her experience describes how distraught she was that someone would steal Jesus' body. She pleads with the gardener of the cemetery to just show here where the body is when suddenly she realizes that gardener is actually Jesus! That changed everything in Mary's life.
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, 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 in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “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 went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. --John 20:11-18 NIV
I am sure Mary had felt like we have often felt: "I don't fit in, No one notices me, what I have to say doesn't matter, I don't matter." BUT because of the resurrection, Mary knew she mattered. And because of the resurrection you and I matter too! Often in our lives we experience that we are not seen or valued by others. This leads to us believing that we do not matter. It happens to all of us. The thought creeps in and before we realize it we are believing that we do not matter. When we feel like we do not matter, excitement and passion are robbed from our lives. Believing that we matter is a lot harder than it looks.
The resurrection changes everything. Because of the resurrection we can know that we matter. Mary mattered to God, so much so that He made sure she was a major player in the Easter story. And just like Mary mattered to Jesus, so do you. The "This Changes Everything" narrative of Easter is that you are seen, known, loved, and important. Jesus says so. YOU MATTER!
So let Easter be a reminder, you can take Jesus seriously, He conquered death. We can trust what He says. Mary mattered to Jesus and so do we. What would change in your life if you really believed that you matter to God, and because of that, the people around you matter as well? The resurrection changes everything!