I can’t stop thinking about Mary Magdalene.
I played her in our church’s Easter Cantata this week. My monologue started off with these words…
“Everyone knew who I was. ‘Seven demons’ they would whisper. ‘Mary Magdalene is possessed by seven demons.’ You have no idea how I suffered. The torment, the rejection, the sin. There was no one to help me. No one who really cared.”
Those words keep running through my mind. Mary must have felt as if she was the most unloveable person in her world. How would she ever be loved by another human being, let alone Jesus?
Not only was she a woman, which made her a second-class citizen in many people’s eyes, she was possessed by demons. Talk about an outcast. I’m sure not too many ‘good’ women befriended her. And although much of her torment must have come from the actual demons, I’m sure it also came from being unloved.
Except she wasn’t.
Oh, I’m sure that there weren’t very many people standing in line to love her, spend time with her, help her. But one day, she met Jesus. And Jesus freed her from the demons, gave her life purpose, allowed her to follow Him.
But He didn’t stop there. He died for her. And then this.
But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.
And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. John 20:11-16
He appeared to her. Spoke her name. Honoured her by allowing her to be the first to see Him alive, risen from the dead. How could she, a woman, an outcast, a sinner with a terrible past, be bestowed with such an honour?
Because she was loved. With far greater intensity than she could ever imagine.
You know, when people betray me, when people fail me, when relationships hurt, I start to wonder if I’m completely unloveable. Not only if I am unloved, but if it will never be possible for someone to love me again. That there must be something wrong with me and I am at my core, unloveable.
I imagine Mary felt the same way. But instead of letting her past and other’s treatment of her dictate how she felt and how she acted, she chose to believe the love of Jesus for her. And it changed the way she lived.
Instead of hiding from the world, she served. Instead of staying home, she left early in the morning to attend to Jesus. And it was there, while she was focused on Jesus, that He was once again able to demonstrate His great love for her. Not that life went perfectly from there on out - those disciples had a little trouble believing her - but she could rest in how special she was to Jesus. How much He loved her.
If Mary can live a life with that kind of loving relationship with her Saviour after being possessed by seven demons, I can too. No matter what I’ve done in the past. No matter who else doesn’t love me. No matter how many times I’ve been betrayed. No matter what. Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so, even when my heart doesn’t.