Raiding Tombs before Tomb Raiders were cool: When Mary Magdalene got between Jesus and God (John 20, Luke 8, Mark 16)

Strong.  Fierce.  Driven.  Fearless.  Bold.  These character qualities show up in many of our favorite gaming characters, but few have had the longevity and ability to overcome both in-game and real world obstacles like our favorite tomb raider, Ms. Lara Croft.  She tore down the male driven archetype of gaming at a time where strong female role models simply didn’t exist, she didn’t need a romantic subplot to define her, and her ability to play with the “big boys” made her a cultural phenomenon.  But perhaps her largest accomplishment wasn’t to tear down the walls of the gender stereotype of males as the lead gaming characters in the 1990’s, but something much more difficult… she survived being in a series of poor video games and lived to tell about it, coming out stronger in the end, reborn and better than ever.  Her path to the top was derailed by circumstances outside of her control, but she emerged from the ashes of her previous efforts to regain prominence for a new generation of gamers in her two most recent titles.  She experienced what we call in the gaming industry a “reboot”… retaining the core of what made her special but completely remaking her and her surroundings, delivering a new series of stories in her rebirth as a gaming icon.

She experienced what we in the gaming industry call a reboot.

But to many people’s surprise, she is far from the original tomb raider.  No, about two thousand years ago a much different but equally bold and strong female was raiding the most famous tomb in humanity’s history… the tomb of Jesus Christ.  To properly live this story I am going to ask you to forget what you know about these events and just walk through the footsteps of our protagonist, a real life role model for men and women alike the world over, a person just as bold, strong, and fearless as our Lady Croft… the woman known as Mary Magdalene.

Two millennia ago the world was a much different place, and especially for women.  Men dominated the political, military, and financial world to a great degree and in the culture Mary grew up in women were often treated as commodities or assets, a symbol of status for their husband and valued for their skills more than their substance.  Hmmm… on second thought maybe the world hasn’t changed all that much, to our shame.  But I digress… let’s keep our eyes on Mary as she is destined for a place in history that no man will ever hold.  She is only mentioned in scripture a handful of times… we first see her as a footnote to the followers of Jesus, with the aside that she had seven demons cast out of her.  Without interpolating into this too much, let’s just say that’s seven more demons than one would want to carry around with you if you had a choice in the matter. She had an identity that was unfortunately based on who she was and was most well known for what she had been delivered from.  Have you been there?  Let’s continue on…

She was most well known for what she had been delivered FROM.

After her deliverance she is noted as a follower of Jesus and included in the group of women who were his loyal providers.  We get limited glances at Mary as her story is overshadowed by the boisterous Peter, the fiery James and John, the traitorous Judas, but her relegation to the shadows only serves to underscore what will follow.  After Jesus’s death and burial, all of the “manly men” who made up the frontline disciples were in hiding, too fearful to show their faces in public as they chose the path of least resistance.  But not our Mary.  Oh no, she was right there at the foot of the cross, staying with Jesus until the bitter end.  Did I say bitter end?  She wasn’t finished yet… she sure wasn’t about to let her Lord lay in a tomb without the proper respect given and honor services performed, regardless of consequences.  With a boldness that all the bearded, macho, muscular men around her lacked, Mary and our collection of loyal female followers marched to the tomb to show their commitment to the one man who had never let them down, even in death.  And this is where the story of the original tomb raider turns supernatural.  Time to raid the tomb…

 

Mary Magdalene, standing outside the tomb weeping, decided to check out the tomb.  And in John chapter 20 verse 11 we pick up with her peering into the empty tomb.  And in this moment, her weeping and searching for her fallen Master interrupts Jesus on His way back to the Father.   Let that sink in for a moment… Jesus, having just accomplished his earthly mission and heading back to Heaven, Jesus observes this loyal follower and can’t help Himself but to stop and comfort her.  When she realizes it is Him he even informs her that she cannot touch Him because He has not yet ascended to the Father… and right there I would like to pause and absorb that.  Jesus STOPPED on his way to the Father… for Mary Magdalene.  Why?  It is simple… because she was searching for Him.  And He has committed to being found by all who search for Him.  No matter what you have struggled with, no matter what you have been delivered from… Jesus will LITERALLY stop in His tracks to be found by you if you are truly interested in finding Him.  Mary Magdalene, the raider of the most famous tomb in human history, holds the distinction of being the FIRST to see Jesus when he rose from the dead.  Not Peter or James, not even John… but Mary.  Because she never stopped looking for Him.  And that can be your story too.

Jesus will LITERALLY stop in His tracks to be found by you.

Mary Magdalene experienced a full “reboot” of her life, and was reborn as the woman who would never stop following Jesus.  Through His death, burial, and resurrection she remained a constant as the others ran and hid.  Maybe you have things in your past that bring you shame, even if you have already been delivered from them.  I have carried that guilt myself much longer than I ever should have, the knowledge of what I was delivered from defining me much like Mary’s deliverance seemed to be the most noteworthy part of her.  But that is not the end of your story… and it does not define you.  It is how closely you choose to stick to Jesus that will determine what your lasting legacy is, and for Mary she will always be the woman who brought the ascending Son of God to a standstill outside of his empty tomb.  Cast off the old descriptors on your life and embrace your relationship with Him as the defining characteristic of your life… He has stopped what He is doing to see how you respond to His call!

 

 

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