In my reading, I’ve been in the book of John. As I was reading chapter 20:11-18, a remembrance of a bible study from awhile ago, as well as some other things the Holy Spirit highlighted, came jumping off the page, specifically about Mary Magdalene as a person, as well as some details surrounding the state in which she found Jesus’ tomb (but I’ve made that a separate post here). We know her name, we know Jesus cast out demons from her, we can see her dedication to Jesus during His life and in His death, we know she was the first to see Jesus resurrected, and we can see her faith.
Mary Magdalene’s name means “stubborn” or “rebellious” and she is mentioned as having been healed by Jesus of evil spirits and infirmities (Luke 8:1-3) and specifically that she was healed from having seven demons (Mark 16:9). This is such an amazing miracle and it was the start of her becoming a follower of Jesus after being healed and freed from demonic possession. In Luke 8, it tells us that she helped provide for Jesus out of her own means. In that culture, this was big and such a heart felt dedication and sacrifice for her. It’s obvious that she whole heartedly felt gratitude to Jesus for healing her and giving her a new life free from demonic possession. Her becoming a follower of Jesus and helping to provide for Him proved her gratitude and showed faith.
She followed Jesus even being present at His crucifixion (John 19:25). She had been healed, seen His ministry as one of His followers, and witnessed Him die for her sin and the sins of the world. She rose early, like still dark early, and went to Jesus’ tomb. Even in His death, she wanted to be near to Him and bring spices to anoint His body with. She so desperately wanted to be near to Him that when she saw Jesus, not knowing it was Him, made an unrealistic claim that she would carry away His body herself if He would only tell her where He was now laid. She disregarded her own physical limitations, wholly abandoned to the idea of being near to her Lord. That is inspiring!
One of the most special things to me is that she got the privilege of being the first person Jesus appeared to after His resurrection. A woman, who in the Jewish culture of that time wouldn’t be considered credible or have the same worth as a man, was worth so much to Jesus. While she may or may not have viewed herself as much, Jesus saw her and loved her and made Himself known to her.
While she didn’t recognize Jesus’ outward appearance, once He said her name, “Mary”, she knew it was Him. It reminds me of John 10:27, where Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice and He knows them and they follow Him. She had followed Him so long, that while she didn’t recognize His glorified body, she knew His voice! Her response to the revelation that this was indeed Jesus is so great…she proclaimed, “Rabboni”, which means my Teacher, expressing that He is her master and then she clung to Him. That word clung in the Greek literally means to fasten to and adhere to. When I think of fastening or an adhesive, I think of making something stick for good, like super glue. Mary had experienced the life-changing time of following Jesus and then felt the agony of watching Him die on a cross. Now that He was back, she embraced Him as though to not easily let Him go. After Jesus told her He was going to ascend to the Father, she went to the disciples and announced, “I have seen the Lord” and then told them all that Jesus had said. She didn’t hold back. It’s as if the worry or doubt that others wouldn’t believe her just went out the window in her mind as she went straight to a group of men and told them what had happened and what Jesus said.
Making it Personal
Think back on your history. What kind of life have you led or did you lead before surrendering to Jesus and Him healing and freeing you? We all have a past of sin, but through Jesus Christ we can all have a future of freedom and righteousness in Him. I guess the question to ask ourselves is, “Do I show Jesus my gratitude in more than just words?”
Once we take that step and let Him heal us, wash us clean, and take the place of Master in our life, do we live like we truly understand and are grateful for it? Our lives should proclaim our dedication to our Lord and Savior, not being afraid of things in this world but being fully focused on growing closer to God and living for Him.
We too have the privilege of drawing near to God as He has revealed Himself to us. Do you ask Him to reveal Himself to you? What a shame it would be to squander that privilege and simply just go through life getting by instead of coming to Jesus daily, laying down ourselves, and following Him into whatever it is He will lead us to. A life with Jesus is an abundant life! Not an easy life, but definitely filled with abundant joy regardless of what happens. It’s a privilege to be on the receiving end of our great God and King revealing Himself to us on a personal level.
Our response should mimic that of Mary’s. Do you cling to Jesus? We have the advantage even, that we can spiritually cling to Jesus without letting go! He said He will never leave us nor forsake us, so we can cling like super glue and follow Him as we await His return and walk in the good works He has prepared for us. Just like Mary went and told the disciples about her encounter with Jesus, may we all have this confidence in our testimony and personal experiences with Christ that we boldly share it with others!