Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Resurrection Day is For the Marginalized

Jesus’ birth was announced first to a 12 or 14 year old girl, who had been betrothed to Joseph. The angel didn’t make the announcement to Joseph first like Zacharias or Abram. No, this announcement of the arrival of Messiah was made to this girl.

When His parents brought Jesus to the Temple, they met two people. The first was Simeon who upon seeing Him, praised God and said that now God could let His servant depart in peace. The other person was Anna, an 80-100 year old widow who spent most of her time in the Temple. Upon seeing the baby, Anna also praises God but then instead of bowing out of the picture, becomes the first evangelist of the Messiah’s arrival. This old widow became the first evangelist of the Messiah.

A young girl receives the first announcement, and an old widow becomes the first evangelist of Messiah’s arrival.

When Jesus and His disciples go to Samaria, the first non-Jewish interlocutor of Jesus is a woman with a questionable history. After sparing with Jesus for a while, she takes off to her town and exclaims, “Can this be Messiah?!” As a result of her excitement, the town believes in Jesus. According to John, this woman is the first non-Jewish person to have the Gospel proclaimed to her.

A young girl receives the first announcement, an old widow becomes the first evangelist of Messiah’s arrival, and a Samaritan woman who was living with some guy she wasn’t married to is the first to receive the announcement of the Gospel outside of Israel.

On the morning of the resurrection, John and Peter race to the tomb, find the wrappings laying neatly on the shelf, and then—they go to their homes! Mary Magdalene stays outside the tomb, worrying herself to death about where the body of Jesus might be. After a short exchange with the gardener, the Gardener softly says “Mary…” and she knows it’s Him! This woman, also with a questionable history, is the first person to whom Jesus reveals Himself after He is raised.

A young girl receives the first announcement, an old widow becomes the first evangelist of Messiah’s arrival, a Samaritan woman is the first to receive the Gospel directly from Jesus outside Israel, and this woman with a questionable history is the first to have Jesus reveal Himself to her on Resurrection morning.

Three women and one girl. No men, no rabbis, no political rulers, no pastors, no bishops, nobody with any political or social power, and no Apostles. Three women and one girl.

The message of God and the coming of Messiah reflect what God’s concerns have been from the earliest concerns expressed by God. God has always been concerned about the folks on the fringe, the outcasts, the oppressed, and those meant to be avoided and not heard or seen. It isn’t any wonder that these first showing of Jesus are to a girl and three women, a widow and two with questionable moral histories.

The coming of Jesus and the resurrection are especially important to people just like these four. Wealth and powerful people don’t often worry about dying, and certainly don’t think they need a savior. But folks who aren’t powerful, who live their lives in one-down positions, who only exist for the entertainment and use of the powerful—these need a savior and it is these who appreciate Messiah the most. 

It is these folks who respond with the most enthusiasm to the call "He is risen!" Their response, "He is risen INDEED!" God wants everybody and has a special spot in His care for those we too often ignore, elect not to see, and avoid in our lives. If we are to be God people, we must be concerned about these same people.

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