The First Witnesses

Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message (John 20:18).

Who was the first group of people to be invited to see the Christ-child? Who was the first eyewitness of the resurrected Christ?

On these two immensely important events, the birth and the resurrection of Jesus, we notice something interesting about God’s choice of witnesses—truly unlikely people. At the manger, we find shepherds; at the tomb, we meet some women.

During Jesus’ day, shepherds were normally poor, uneducated, uncultured, and considered uncouth. People looked down on them, and their work made them ceremonially unclean to participate in temple activities. Yet God the Father put them at the top of the invitation list for the most important birthday of all time—the birth of His Son!

Similarly, in ancient Jewish culture, women didn’t have much social standing. The rabbis often began temple meetings with the words, “Blessed art thou, O Lord, for thou hast not made me a woman.” Women were all but excluded from public religious life. It was rare that they were taught the Torah, even in private. Yet the risen Christ appeared first to Mary Magdalene, a woman once possessed by seven demons (Mark 16:9). She not only saw Him, she heard Him and touched Him. What a great privilege for this woman whose broken life had experienced true healing.

God remembers the lowly. He sees those who society marginalizes, and He lifts them up. The shepherds and Mary Magdalene rejoiced at receiving such grace. Their joy bubbled over, and they shared the good news with others (Luke 2:20; John 20:18).

As we reflect on God’s reaching out to us, we will similarly wonder at His amazing grace. And like the shepherds and Mary Magdalene, may we go and proclaim the good news to others!

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The First Witnesses