By Michael C. Mack
I have learned some of the most vital lessons from some of the most unlikely people in Scripture. Mary Magdalene is one of them.
A most pivotal day in her life started “while it was still dark” (John 20:1). As she went to the tomb, her life epitomized what our lives would look like without knowing Christ and the power of his resurrection—dark and hopeless.
But the resurrection changes everything. A day that began in darkness ended with her radiant proclamation, “I have seen the Lord!” (v. 18).
Mary was the first to view the empty tomb, the first to see the risen Lord, and the first to proclaim the news of his resurrection. She is a model for the church about our “first love,” a reminder of what is most important.
I came to know Christ and the power of his resurrection 30 years ago this month. As I read the articles in this month’s issue, I reflected on that time in my life. Through a calling campaign at what was then Centerville (Ohio) Christian Church, I was invited to their Easter Sunday service. I still remember the message Tom Jones preached that day about Jesus’ death and resurrection, the evidence for the empty tomb, and why it all matters. “Christianity really does work if you’ll just give Jesus a chance,” Jones said toward the end of his message.
Three weeks later, on April 23, 1988, I took him up on that offer. Jones and I stood in the water and I was buried with Christ in baptism and raised to a new life. Like Mary, I moved from darkness to light, from many questions about Jesus to “I have seen the Lord.” And, like Mary, my whole worldview changed.
After Mary finally recognized Jesus for who he was, he gave her instructions—the same instructions he gives to all who recognize him as Savior and Lord—to go and tell others (v. 17). I’ve been doing that the best I can since that day 30 years ago.
We designed this issue to take you from the Lord’s Supper on Thursday to Jesus’ suffering on Friday to Resurrection Sunday and beyond. We take you for a guided tour into the scenes of Holy Week, and we discuss how those events affect us today.
You will read about many people in the world today who share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, and I know you’ll be challenged. And, because we recognize that some leaders are struggling to find hope, even at Easter, we asked ministers around the country to share how they find hope in the midst of despair. In their responses, I think you’ll find ideas that will help you when you are discouraged.
During the weeks surrounding Easter we remember what Christ has done for each of us, but we are also reminded—by Mary, by Jesus, by the rest of his disciples in the days and weeks following the resurrection—that we have a message to proclaim. That is our priority as the church. That’s why we included Dudley Rutherford’s encouragement and guidance for sharing our faith with those around us and Ryan Rasmussen’s teaching on Jesus’ simple model for discipleship, which we see on the very day he was resurrected.
Yes, the resurrection changes everything, and it should change our hearts to take this message to people who are still walking in darkness.