Rowan and Irene LeCompte, Mary Magdalene in the garden with Jesus
The word Evangelist is a Greek word meaning bearer of good news. Who were the first bearers of the good news of the resurrection? Women!
In fact the gospels are specifically written to turn the power structures of the time on their heads:
- Jesus is born to a virgin teenage woman.
- Jesus is born into a blue collar family, Joseph is a carpenter, not royalty.
- The angels announce the birth to the lowest rung of society: shepherds. Shepherds were not allowed to give testimony in court because everyone knew they lied. But God chooses these liars to be the first ones to witness the birth of the Messiah.
- Jesus chooses twelve disciples, three of whom are lowly fishermen (Peter, James and John). Matthew is a tax-gatherer for the oppressor government. One (Simon the Zealot) belongs to the political party that assassinates members of the oppressor government.
- Jesus treats women as equals: Women gave money to his cause. He sat and talked to women as equals. Jesus emphasized that women were not objects to be lusted after, or discarded by their husbands.
- Most of the apostles seemed to have run away when Jesus was crucified, but the women stayed near the cross. The women came to wash and prepare the body for burial and they are the first chosen by God to witness the empty tomb, Mary the first witness to his resurrected body.
The gospel of Jesus turns the hierarchy of his day on its ear.
What does that say to us today? What power structures should be turning on their ears? What people at the bottom of the social ladder should we be elevating?