March 29, 2016
As you speculate on what to do with all those colored eggs in your fridge and contemplate the stains on your fingers from the allegedly water-soluble egg dyes, do you know the identity of the person you have to thank for the tradition of coloring eggs at Easter? It’s our friend, Mary Magdalene. Long revered in the Orthodox Churches, which never – I repeat – never made the mistake of claiming she was an prostitute, Mary is usually shown in icons holding a red egg, Sometimes it’s a small egg; other times the egg is so large that one might be tempted to speculate that Mary had raided an ostrich nest. However, large or small, the egg is always red.
Here’s the story from the Orthodox tradition. After Jesus rose from the dead and returned to his father, Mary became a traveling witness. She eventually went to Rome, where she had an audience with the Emperor Tiberius. According to legend, she brought the gift of an egg. (You didn’t visit the emperor empty-handed.) She told the emperor of the treachery of his governor in Judea, Pontius Pilate. She also told how Jesus rose from the dead.
“Ridiculous,” the emperor responded.” How could someone rise from the dead? It is as impossible as it would be for that white egg you hold in your hand to turn red!” And that is just what the egg did. It began to glow and blush until it turned bright red.
There are many legends about Mary Magdalene. However, what we know from Scripture is that this brave and faithful woman and several courageous ladies accompanied Jesus’ mother Mary all through his journey to Calvary, his death, and his burial. And Mary Magdalene was at the same tomb on Sunday morning when Jesus, fully alive, called her name (John 20:16). In fact, she is mentioned in all four Gospel accounts of the resurrection.
What brave women. Here’s a thought. Take out your Bible or open your Bible app and read all four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection. See for yourself the bravery of Mary of Magdalene and the other women, who stayed at the cross and became witnesses to his resurrection.