Eve seems rather lonely in the story of the Bible. I often wonder why she was alone that day the serpent came to call. Did she enjoy solitude from her literal one and only? As women, I think we suffer from a collective loneliness. Even in crowds, we can feel lonely and unseen. And when we fail, when we listen to the dark voices, then we feel absolutely lost and forgotten.
There is a new movie coming out about Mary Magdalene. I have no idea which version will be presented of this historical character that seems to inspire the imaginations of so many. I just like that people are still talking about her.
The Biblical Magdalene had pain in her past. We know she was not the harlot that some would have her be, but we also know from the text that Jesus delivered her from seven demons. Some have argued these were actual spirits, others believe the demons represented physical illness, others mental. I’m not sure it would have mattered to her. She just wanted to be free, and that is what Jesus gave her, freedom.
Jesus treated women differently. They traveled with him, provided for him out of their means, sat at his feet as students, engaged with him in the marketplace, and felt free enough to even challenge him face-to-face at times. In an era of history where women had little social value, were looked upon as property in the eyes of the law, could have their identity and security stripped through unilateral divorce for as little as a burnt dinner, and found security in their progeny alone, Jesus must have stood out.
Maybe that is what drove the women, including Magdalene, to stay close by during the crucifixion when others fled. Perhaps it was the sense of safety they had felt only with him that compelled them to watch in horror as hope died, love died, life died. The Bible remarks that a wealthy man named Joseph claimed Jesus’ body as the sun prepared to set on sabbath, and the women observed where Jesus was laid. They stayed close, these women, as close as they could, all the way until the stone had been rolled into place, separating them from their savior.
Then, in the early hours after the sabbath, they gathered what they needed to anoint Jesus’ dead body, and they went towards the tomb. There was no real plan. Magdalene remarked to her companion on the journey that there was no one to help them move the stone. Yet, they kept walking. And when they arrived, the stone was gone.
I have found in my dark moments, when fear and regret seek to overtake me, walking helps. There is something healing in the midst of movement, even if you don’t know what you will find at the end of the journey. And isn’t it true for many of us who follow Jesus where we had expected to find barriers, insurmountable obstacles, instead we often find his grace has gone before us. Somehow the stone has been removed.
The moved stone was the first of the surprises. One consistency throughout all four of the resurrection tales found in the gospels is women came to the tomb, found it empty, and somewhere in the mix, Jesus told them to go and tell his brothers, the disciples, the good news of his resurrection. In a time where a woman’s word meant close to nothing, Jesus chose an unlikely vessel for the most important message in history. He chose a woman to be the carrier of the good news of his resurrection for the first time.
Think of it this way. A woman preached the first sermon. A woman carried the first message of grace. In a time where they were considered untrustworthy witnesses, mere property, and had few rights outside of their relationship with a man, Jesus still picked a woman.
Now, as a fourth generation pentecostal preacher, there are things on the surface of this I could get very excited about. Jesus said yes. So, your no doesn’t count. Jesus said go. So, I don’t have to wonder whether I should stay. Jesus chose a woman to carry his most important message. So I shouldn’t think there is any task or calling outside of my reach. Jesus valued women in a way that no one else did. That speaks to me. And I’m grateful.
And while I believe all those things are true, there is something deeper going on here.
See, Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. He came to redeem mankind. He came to set things right again. And if we look closer, he wasn’t choosing women just because they were oppressed or marginalized or forgotten. He was there to set all things right - to resurrect the lost dream of Eden. He came to make things new again.
At the beginning of our time, the Bible tells us Eve, woman, was created as helper, as one who could be relied on, trusted. The translation of helper here literally means necessary ally. She was created with purpose in mind to rule the world. Where one had failed. God intended two to succeed.
Then, Eve was deceived by the serpent and carried this news, this deception to Adam and the whole world was plunged into death. She was the first carrier of bad news. She was the first carrier of death. She was the first carrier of destruction. And it tore the world apart!
The enemy stole her message and purpose and corrupted it.
Then, came Jesus.
- Jesus, who went out of his way to talk to women.
- Jesus, who spoke against practices like divorce and public stoning that were used to subjugate women.
- Jesus, who allowed women to sit at his feet and walk with him on the journey.
Jesus came, and his first act after being resurrected was to set right that terrible moment in Eden by giving one of Eve’s daughters the first message of grace, the first message of good news, the first message of hope and telling her to deliver it to some of Adam’s sons.
Eve’s message of death was redeemed by Mary’s message of life!
This isn’t just about women. It’s about the nature of God! He does not forget the details. Eve was never lost or alone. Through time and space, He saw her. Through all the pain, He remembered her. Through every injustice, He thought of her. And He came to set things right. See, God, came to redeem not only our souls, but our purpose!
In the midst of your own pain, your own regret, your own mistakes, just remember that He did not lose sight of Eve. He restored and redeemed even her worst most public moment of shame, and He will do the same for us. Nothing missing. Nothing broken. And nothing hidden.
What is the purpose that the enemy has convinced you can no longer live out? What is the moment you are most ashamed of? Jesus has already redeemed it! You can choose to walk in your new identity - because his yes is enough!
If you enjoyed this, I encourage you to share with your friends. And for more inspiration, check out the rest of the posts!