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Thankfulness Project: Mary Magdalene

I'm a daughter, granddaughter & niece of pastors. I love God & studying the Bible and want to empower others to do the same.

thankfulness-project-mary-magdalene

Magdala is an Aramaic word meaning "tower"; it is an ancient city on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. In the Babylonian Talmud it is known as Magdala Nunayya (Aramaic: meaning "Tower of the Fishes"), and which some historical geographers think may refer to Tarichaea, literally meaning “the place of processing fish.” It is believed to be the birthplace of Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene first appears in the gospels as a woman who had suffered from “evil spirits” or demon possession:

“Jesus traveled from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with Him, as well as some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out” -Luke 8:1-2

thankfulness-project-mary-magdalene

Though the following verse was spoken about a different Mary (the sister of Lazarus), the truth still remains true, even for this Mary: “her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7:47) And vice versa, who has been forgiven much, loves much. Who has been healed from much, is very grateful. Mary Magdalene was healed of not one or two or three demons, but seven tormenting her mind and probably her body for many years. The Gerasene/Gadarene demoniacs were isolated, bruised, cut, more like wild animals than men because of the things the demons had them do to hurt themselves. Mary could have been much the same. Regardless, she had been healed of much, and so her gratitude and humility were greater than that of some of the other disciples and followers of Jesus. Her faith and trust in Him and His power were bigger, because she had experienced His saving, redeeming, incomprehensible power first hand. She saw it again at the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, first-hand, and first, before any other person, before even the men who were closest to Jesus, the three disciples Peter, James, and John.

When Jesus died and rose again, it was to this woman, Mary, the demon-possessed outcast of society that He appeared first (not because, as some fiction—meaning false, untrue, fictionalized, made up—books falsely insinuate, of any romantic relationship, but because He loved her and died for her and probably more quickly and deeply than all His other followers, He knew she would get it. And He wanted to show her value, to show them, and to show us. She was not lesser in value or esteem than any of the 12 or even the 3 closest followers).

Early on the first day of the week, after Jesus had risen, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had driven out seven demons. -Mark 16:9

thankfulness-project-mary-magdalene
thankfulness-project-mary-magdalene

The truth is, Jesus Christ of Nazareth highly values and respects women. He loves women equally as much as He loves men. He came to save sinners of every gender, race, and background. Some men, some pastors, some churches do not esteem, respect, or treat women properly, biblically, as the Word commands, not suggests. To the women who have suffered at the hands of these types of men, know this: Despite human’s failings, Jesus’ example stands firm. His love and desire for all people equally to know and love Him is unyielding, faithful, reliable, everlasting, and healing. Jesus’ love, the Father’s love, can heal all the damage done in this world. His example is what ALL who claim to be His followers should seek to follow. While we are humans that fail, we have a God who empowers us to begin again. He teaches us true repentance, truly turning away from our sin, having disgust and repulsion at it (not ourselves, for we are loved) so great that we cast it away and do not return to it, by His might.

After appearing to Mary, knowing her broken heart and devastating despair at the loss of her Teacher and Friend, he spoke to her kindly, patiently, with deep compassion (without a trace of condescension or annoyance or sarcasm for her lack of understanding or outpouring of emotion). He knew the question she would ask, and that He had given her the answer long ago, and yet this was still how He treated her. This should also be our example.

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Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying...she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” -John 20:11, 14-17

Jesus knows the limitations of human understanding, strength, etc. He intimately knows each of us, and our individual limitations. He had told her and the disciples multiple times about dying and being raised again, knowing they didn’t understand yet. He knew why she was crying. Yet He still asked her, ‘Why?”

Why did Jesus ask a question He already knew the answer to? For her benefit. To help her realize the truth. Because if He’s going to heal us, we must first admit what broke us. We must offer Him our broken pieces and allow Him to do as HE wills, which is beautifully always for our good, our best. Then He reassembles and makes all things new, brings new life, healing, hope, purpose. He took her broken heart and showed her the glory of the gospel. He showed her first, because of her faith, even in the midst of her deepest sorrow and despair. Jesus knew she stood at the foot of the cross crying while He died.

God knows our weaknesses, and He also knows our strengths, even when we have forgotten or lost sight of them. He knew that she was there at that tomb to serve and take care of Him, to show her love for Him, even when she didn’t understand what He was doing or had allowed. She was still surrendered to obeying Him and committed to caring for Him. She loved Him, even in her despair. And HE loved her back. More than she loved Him. More than I love Him. More than any of us can love Him, He loves us each. And He met her at her moment of greatest despair and heartbreak. He always does. That’s who our God is. He asks us, Why? What broke you? And when we are honest and tell Him, truthfully, all of it. He shows us His truth, the only truth. He reveals the lies and fears wrapped up in our heart and shines the light of His love and Word against it and heals it. He does the impossible. He casts out demons. He conquers death. He heals what others broke or stole. He redeems. He restores. He teaches. She called Him Teacher. She finally understood what Jesus had been trying to tell her all along. And she leapt to hug Him. She leapt with joy, with hope. This is what happens for us as well in this process.

thankfulness-project-mary-magdalene
thankfulness-project-mary-magdalene

This is what God did for me. He met me, a sinner in need of redemption, of saving, on my three darkest days of deepest despair. He was the only One present at the worst moment for two of them, and He is the only One I will ever need on each of my days. He healed me, slowly sometimes, a process of undoing the lies in my head and heart. But He met me there at my worst moments, as He meets all of us who cry out to Him in sincerity. And He heals, redeems, and restores what we surrender. No matter what or who broke us. Jesus knows who will listen and believe Him, and He comes to us, even the poor, the weak, the outcasts and “lessers” of society, even the hopeless and demon-possessed. Jesus meets us at our worst moments, like He did for Mary when she was demon-possessed and again after He had died. Jesus can always be counted on, no matter who or what hurt or broke us. And at that worst moment, or any moment, if we offer ourselves to Him, He will restore and redeem, and we will leap for joy at the salvation of our great God, filled with real hope, for it is found in Him.

For more about this, read John 20, Mark 16, Matthew 27, Luke 24.

© 2021 Amanda Lorenzo

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