The first command to go and tell was given to a faithful heart. No matter what our gender, race, or status, we must share the good news of His resurrection.
But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” (Mark 16:7)
It’s a poignant and remarkable truth that it was to women God revealed the full facts of the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Christ. They held their lonely vigil at the cross so they could testify to His death. They watched as Jesus was laid in a borrowed tomb and sealed inside by the huge rock. This was so they could testify to His burial. Finally, it was to Mary Magdalene that Jesus first revealed Himself after His resurrection. Mary had come to do Him honour and to embalm His body. Instead, she received an honour beyond imagining. She was the first to be commissioned to go and tell the good news. A single truth surrounds this simple act of recognition – the faithfulness of those women. It could just as easily have been men. The key lies in not who they were but what they were.
Go and tell is the first instance of the great commission.
Jesus establishes a beautiful truth here. The command to go and tell is given to any believer. He reiterates this in what we call the ‘great commission’ but the Gospel begins in this moment. Mary, who is usually portrayed as having originally been a prostitute, is possibly the last person anyone would have chosen. But, like the Samaritan woman at the well, she is commissioned to witness to the truth of Christ. I’m reminded here that God uses the foolish to confound the wise. It didn’t matter to Jesus that she was a woman – and one with a ‘hinky’ past. She was chosen simply because she was faithful. She followed Him to His death, through His death, and after His death. It was to this faithfulness that Jesus entrusted the privilege and honour of telling His resurrection.
We often look at ourselves and our past and see hindrances to spreading the Gospel. Whatever our race, gender, or status, we’re all commissioned to go and tell. God looks beyond limitations to find faithful hearts. Mary wasn’t perfect. Like the disciples, she hadn’t grasped the reality that Jesus would rise again. She came to the tomb in mourning, but she came to honour Him with her all and He saw her faithfulness. Alive or dead, Jesus was the centre of her life. This is what matters. Even when nothing makes sense and all seems lost, Jesus must remain our all in all. If we live to honour Him with all we have, He will respond with all we need to be His witness. To speak is not an option. It’s a gracious command backed by the full authority and gracious provision of the risen Christ.
The joy of salvation empowers go and tell.
Remarkably, from a purely technical viewpoint, she has the honour of being the ‘first Christian’ – the first person to recognise and acknowledge the risen Christ. Even more remarkable, the command to go and tell has an apostolic function – she initiates the Christian church by sharing the Good New for the first time in Christian history. While scholars may rage and debate these truths, the fact remains that Jesus chose a ‘fallen woman’ to testify to His resurrection. Her testimony was followed by the authority of Christ Himself when He revealed Himself personally to His disciple. Christ Himself confirmed her words. For those among us who struggle to go and tell, take courage. The full joy of the resurrection will manifest in all who faithfully follow Him. This will empower us all to fulfil the great commission to spread the Gospel of a resurrected, living Son of God.
Sweet saviour, thank You for all You did on our behalf. We rejoice in Your resurrection and in the new life You purchased for each of us at such terrible cost. Help us to have faithful hearts, fixed on You no matter what the circumstances. As we celebrate the joy of our risen Lord, let this empower us to go and tell, no matter who and what we are. Remind us always, Lord that it’s not about us, but about You.