“Soon afterward, Jesus began a ministry tour throughout the country, visiting cities and villages to announce the wonderful news of God’s kingdom realm. His twelve disciples traveled with him and also a number of women who had been healed of many illnesses under his ministry and set free from demonic power. Jesus had cast out seven demons from one woman. Her name was Mary Magdalene, for she was from the village of Magdala. Among the women were Susanna and Joanna, the wife of Chusa, who managed King Herod’s household. Many other women who supported Jesus’ ministry from their own personal finances also traveled with him.” [Luke 8:1-3]
Mary arrived back at the tomb, broken and sobbing. She stooped to peer inside, and through her tears she saw two angels in dazzling white robes, sitting where Jesus’ body had been laid—one at the head and one at the feet! “Dear woman, why are you crying?” they asked.
Mary answered, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve laid him.” Then she turned around to leave, and there was Jesus standing in front of her, but she didn’t realize that it was him!
He said to her, “Dear woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” Mary answered, thinking he was only the gardener, “Sir, if you have taken his body somewhere else, tell me, and I will go and . . .”
“Mary,” Jesus interrupted her. Turning to face him, she said, “Rabboni!” (Aramaic for “my teacher”)
Jesus cautioned her, “Mary, don’t hold on to me now, for I haven’t yet ascended to God, my Father. And he’s not only my Father and God, but now he’s your Father and your God! Now go to my brothers and tell them what I’ve told you, that I am ascending to my Father—and your Father, to my God—and your God!”
Then Mary Magdalene left to inform the disciples of her encounter with Jesus. “I have seen the Lord!” she told them. And she gave them his message. [John 20:11-18]
The story of Mary Magdalene is so beautiful in so many ways. In her, we see a woman go from being tormented by seven demons to freedom to a close intimate relationship with Jesus. But far more than a beautiful story of redemption and freedom, her story actually has so many practical implications for us.
Freedom breeds intimacy. We talk about freedom a lot around here. We pray to be freed from anxiety and depression and fear and many other things. Jesus definitely does not want these things to be a part of our lives, but I think it is important to remember that the whole point of freedom is Jesus.
Freedom is not only the absence of the negative. It must involve the presence of Jesus. If Mary were to be set free of her demons but never have entered into a relationship with Jesus, her story would not have been complete. She needed to know Him. She needed to invite him to fill the space left there. If you are seeking freedom to no avail, it could be beneficial to change your perspective. I have found that as you make Jesus the biggest priority, those good things will come. Peace. Love. Joy. Acceptance. And so many others.
Jesus always meets us when we need Him. This would probably be the biggest take away from Mary’s story for me. Jesus came to Mary when she needed him most, even though these were very different moments in her life. She didn’t even know this Jesus. She only knew that she was tormented. Jesus came to her. He set her free and brought her into his fold. The second time she was heartbroken by the death of her teacher. In her despair, Jesus revealed Himself to her and came to her. He revealed the Father to her and told her to go bare witness. He trusted her with His witness. It doesn’t matter if you are just beginning a relationship with Jesus or you are old friends, Jesus is so faithful to meet us. Always.
Ask Jesus to meet you today. What area do you need him the most? Ask him to come close. Ask him to redeem and restore. Ask him to help you make Him the most important thing. It is clear to me that for Mary, Jesus was the most important thing to her. She was sold out and fully surrendered to Him and look at all of the ways that He blessed her and came to her.
God, I thank You that You come close. Thank You that You redeem and restore me. I pray that as I seek You and get to know You, there would be even more freedom in my life. I pray that in whatever I face, Your nearness would be the most overwhelming thing to me. Would you make me like Mary, fully surrendered and in love with You. Amen.