Wave after wave, tears rolled over her blotchy swollen cheeks. Since her public humiliation, just a few short years prior, she had never known such cruel pain. And now this… it seemed so wrong, so criminal, so unfair. Granted, she was in no position to demand anything from anyone, having broken the law herself several times, that was then, and this was now. Why God would allow such an injustice was as strange as what would happen next.
I don’t know why, but when I hear stories of people who’ve come through so much, only to find themselves knocked down again, my heart goes out to them. This particular story, though not someone I know personally, is certainly one I can identify with. Truth is, her story is a lot like my own. Fortunately, for her and me, God is merciful. In the case of Mary, that’s the woman’s name, the cruel pain she was experiencing was about to change.
I find it interesting how tear-filled eyes are often the filter through which amazing things are seen. Though it usually takes time to learn how to focus them, watery eyes are a gift frequently overlooked. For Mary, her tears were her pain. For the man now standing in front of her, those same tears made no sense. “Why are you crying”, He said forcing her to look up. Those words, coupled with the personal use of her name changed her view forever.
Ok, if you’ve not yet figured it out, Mary is a bit more famous than I’ve let on. It’s Mary Magdalene. You know, the first person to ever see Jesus after His resurrection. For me, her story cuts through all the manmade religious extras and gives hope to us all. Though there is some debate over whether or not Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, few argue that she had a history with a ton of problems.
Yet it was to her that Jesus first chose to reveal Himself on the most important day in human history—the day of His resurrection. Not only did she have a demon-filled past, but culturally, she was not a candidate for such a place of honor. She was a woman and women, religiously speaking, were carrying a certain shame because of Eve’s role in the garden.
The fact that Jesus chose to reveal Himself first to her is more than significant—it’s the Gospel in its purest form. I suppose that’s why Jesus commissioned her to be the first one to preach it. I know, I know, there are those who are opposed to women preachers, but it is what it is. Mary Magdalene was the first person charged by Jesus Himself to announce His resurrection.
“Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; But go to my brothers and say to them., ‘I am ascending to my Father and Your Father, to my God, and your God.'”(John 20:17).
For me, the reason is clear. By using her, He was saying to us all, no matter where you’ve been, no matter what the shame you’ve been carrying, through my death, burial, and resurrection, not only are you forgiven, but I can use you to demonstrate my love and redemption to others. That, dear reader, is what Resurrection Sunday and real Christianity are all about.
As I stop to celebrate the wonder of it all, Mary Magdalene’s story helps me bring things into view. Through her teary eyes and amazing transformation, I see God’s abundant grace in my own life.
“Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils. And she went and told them that had been with Him, as they mourned and wept.” (Mark 16:9-10)
If you something inside of you spoke while reading this, please re-share.