In 2007, four years after LeBron James announced that he was bypassing college and going directly to the NBA, a new basketball season was underway—and the city of Cleveland was alive with anticipation. Would this be their year? Would the Cavaliers finally bring the bedraggled city its first championship in decades? The arrival of that season of hope was trumpeted by a massive Nike advertising campaign. The theme of that campaign? “We Are All Witnesses.” It was a call to bear witness to the expected greatness that, unfortunately for Cleveland, did not arrive that year. The Cavs lost in the playoffs and fell short of their title bid.
Two thousand years ago, it seemed that a far greater loss had occurred. A new Rabbi had appeared, bringing hope of a better day. Hope of rescue. Hope of a kingdom. Then, Jesus was arrested and tried. As Jesus hung on a Roman cross, His followers who witnessed His suffering felt only grief and despair. Jesus’ certain death was followed by a hasty burial and the darkest of dark weekends. For all of this, there were witnesses. Jesus was dead.
But, on the first day of the week, Jesus rose from the grave. Life overturned death. Victory overwhelmed defeat. And, there were also witnesses of this. In the following pages, we want to consider someone who witnessed both the cross and the empty tomb—Mary Magdalene. And, she was not just any witness—Mary was the first to bear witness to the risen Jesus. Her story is worth knowing.