Witness the Power of the Resurrection

No longer do you live in darkness, but in the light of forgiveness, redemption, and resurrection.

Group Photo

Among all of Jesus’ followers, Mary — along with John and other women — remained faithful in the darkest of hours. They risked their lives in obedience to Christ and witnessed the power of His resurrection.

Years ago, my daughter, Courtney, was asked to sing a solo for our church’s Good Friday service. As a 10-year-old, she was a bit intimidated by the thought of singing in front of a large crowd on such a somber night. A few days before the service, she approached the microphone on stage to practice with the worship team. Nerves were high and I could tell she was anxious. I could also see our worship pastor was apprehensive, rethinking how he could put Courtney at ease.

Being gracious and still wanting her to sing, he devised a new plan: give Courtney a microphone but plant her in the congregation to sing a cappella in the dark. She seemed relieved that a thousand eyes wouldn’t be focused on her singing in the spotlight.

So, sitting next to us during the Good Friday service, her voice began to cut through the darkness at the moment we reflected on the crucifixion.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. 

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

The sweetness of a young girl's voice and the reality of death were mingled in the darkness that evening. No one knew it was Courtney. No one made a sound as the congregation sat in silence. Death and darkness ended the evening as we exited back to our homes. Only the first few verses of the familiar hymn were sung, leaving the audience with the same feeling the women at the cross must have felt on the night of Jesus’ death.

Were You There When They Nailed Him to a Tree?

Mary Magdalene, too, understood the reality of darkness. Maybe it wasn’t a song of grief but a cry for help. Possessed by seven demons, she found healing from Jesus. No longer a slave to her past, Mary Magdalene understood what Paul meant in Ephesians 6 when he said our struggle isn’t against flesh and blood, but against the cosmic powers of this darkness. She had experienced darkness in ways most people have never known.

From the town of Magdala, a small place on the coast of Galilee near Tiberia, Mary Magdalene found healing and became one of Jesus’ most faithful followers. She supported His ministry and was an eyewitness both of the crucifixion and the resurrection. She is mentioned in all four Gospel accounts of the resurrection — a remarkable fact, not only because it shows consistency among Scripture, but also because this was extremely unusual for a female to be named at all in that particular culture.

Among all of Jesus’ followers, Mary — along with John and other women — remained faithful in the darkest of hours. She risked her own life to behold the sacrifice of the Lamb of God because when an enemy of the state was crucified, it was unsafe for family and friends to remain close by. They, too, might endure the same fate. While others deserted Jesus, she remained faithful as they nailed Him to the cross.

As Mary watched Jesus suffer, surely her hopes and dreams seemed to crash around her. Would darkness overcome her again? The darkness of death not only permeated her thoughts and future but Matthew 27:45 says the darkness came over the whole land for three hours. Darkness seemed to prevail that day in every way, both in creation and in the hearts of those who loved and followed the Rabbi from Nazareth.

Were You There When They Laid Him in the Tomb?

Just as God’s word broke through the darkness at creation, Jesus broke through the curse of darkness and sin. And Mary Magdalene got a front row seat. No, she got the first seat. As the first witness to the light, all four Gospels agree that women were the recipients of the resurrection.

Kelly King in Witness the Power of the Resurrection

Grief and darkness were the companions of Mary, the mother of James, and Mary Magdalene as they faced the tomb. Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit,” yet somehow the women must have wondered how God would comfort them in this darkness. There was no loud wailing, which was often the custom, as Roman law prohibited public mourning for those they executed.

Instead, Matthew 27 says the two women were seated and silent, keeping watch over their friend. Their devotion led them to stay near Jesus in death, but also in His burial. As Liz Curtis Higgs wrote in her book, The Women of Easter, “They stayed and they stayed and they stayed. This is one of the most important lessons these women teach us. Wherever He leads, follow Jesus. Whatever pain you are enduring, keep your eyes on Jesus. Even when hope seems gone, stay close to Jesus.” Even so, surely hope was diminished as they kept watch over the tomb.

Were You There When He Rose up From the Grave?

Mark 16:2 says the women arrived very early in the morning at sunrise. John’s Gospel says they came while it was still dark. They were about to experience not only the darkness of night becoming a new day, but there would be a new way — the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Just as God’s word broke through the darkness at creation, Jesus broke through the curse of darkness and sin.

And Mary Magdalene got a front row seat. No, she got the first seat. As the first witness to the light, all four Gospels agree that women were the recipients of the resurrection. While we often refer to the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, it was the women who were first given the mission: “Then go quickly and tell his disciples” (v. 7).

Not only were women, including Mary Magdalene, entrusted with the message, but God used a woman who was the least likely, the one woman with a past, a former outcast. The woman who was formerly in darkness was now proclaiming the light of the resurrection.

These faithful women of the New Testament counted for the kingdom just as women are called today to be faithful witnesses of Jesus. The same Jesus who addressed Mary Magdalene as “Woman” in John 20:13, still calls women today and pursues a relationship with them.

No matter what your past, no matter what darkness you’ve encountered, just as John 1:5 says, “That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.” Jesus is still the same light revealed to women with the same mission: “Go and tell.”

No longer do you sing in darkness, but in the light of forgiveness, redemption, and resurrection.

This article is adapted from HomeLife Magazine.

Kelly King is is the manager of Magazines/Devotional Publishing and Women’s Ministry Training for LifeWay Christian Resources. She is a graduate of Gateway Seminary where she holds a Master of Theology degree. She and her husband, Vic, have two young adult children. Read her blog and follow her on Twitter @kellydking.