Have you ever heard the name Mary Magdalene? Most people that know anything about Jesus probably have heard her name mentioned, but what do we recall about her? Some Christians will point out that she became a follower of Jesus after He casted out seven demons. Others will say she was a prostitute. She may also be remembered as being one of the women at the cross when Jesus died, and that after the Sabbath she went with other women to where the body of Jesus was laid in a tomb to finish the burial sacrament anointing as was the custom.
What we don’t acknowledge is that the Greatest Story Ever Told in History, the cross, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God entrusted to give to a WOMAN to share to the world! If we don’t remember Mary Magdalene, we would NOT have the eye-witness of being the first to SEE Jesus as our risen Savior after the cross.
Each year on the Sunday after Passover, churches around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ shouting in victory that He is alive today after the cross, death, and burial experience. We embrace the supernatural occurrence which testifies to believers that because He lives today, we too have eternal life, a relationship with God as our Heavenly Father. For over two-thousand years humanity has been blessed with this revelation of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, the sad thing is that after the celebration of the resurrection, many believers don’t have much relationship with Jesus beyond the awareness that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and because they have repented of their sins they are simply trying to be a good Christian to go to Heaven when they leave their natural body.
What’s missing and why?
For over two-thousand years the “woman” factor of humanity has been suppressed by men dominating and controlling the church, the body of Christ from a masculine perception of interpreting what God said. When we take the Apostle Mary out of the picture, we must ask ourselves the question, “Who was the eye witness of the resurrection? How do we know the story is true?” (An Apostle is an eye-witness to be sent out by the Lord).
In John chapter two, Jesus performs His first miracle at the wedding in Cana changing water into wine. We don’t have anything recorded to tell us that Mary Magdalene was witness to that miracle. However, the town of Cana and the town of Magdala were located near each other on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. In the time of Jesus, it was common for the roads to connect from one town to another around the Sea of Galilee for access to food and water supplies when traveling. Jesus’s ministry would have followed these roads.
We know that Jesus casted out seven demons from Mary, but we don’t know if it was immediately all at once, or over a period of time (Luke 8:2). When we try to understand Scripture from a place that questions, “What does this have to do with me?”, we need to ask “What or who these demons were?”
We can find one answer in Deuteronomy 7:1, “When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you.” Whenever we have “ites” after a word, there is an identification of a particular character and nature in a group of people. It isn’t that the people themselves are evil people, but that there are particular familiar ways of thinking that have suppressed the people from living the fullness of their identity.
How often do we go to the doctor to fill out a health history that includes the ailments of our parents and grandparents, but at the time of the visit we don’t have any of those ailments - a family history of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, etc. The same thing goes with our religious beliefs, educational, family raising, perception of our neighbors, and racial or gender beliefs. These all would be our “ites.” They are partial truths that are acceptable in the culture we live in, but when we move away, we find out that those “ites” we thought were the whole truth, don’t even exist in other parts of the world. These “ites” become “demons” in our thoughts. This is what the children of God had to battle as they entered into the promise land.
Consider that these “nations” in Deuteronomy are the same “nations” of generational familiar “ites” – traditions of man – that Mary Magdalene needed to overcome before she met Jesus.
- The Hivites were known for their violence and drama.
- The Girgashites were known for their lying governmental system.
- The Amorites were known for their pride with logic and reasoning.
- The Canaanites were known for their economic greed and rebellion.
- The Perizzites were known for their idolatry and independence.
- The Hittites were known for their negative perception laced with fear.
- The Jebusites were known for their religion that was perceived through rejection.
Besides identifying Mary as the woman with seven demons – a person with a huge personality issue, we have also given her a label of being a prostitute. The challenge found in Luke 7:37 of whether Mary Magdalene is this same Mary that is anointing Jesus’ feet at the house of a Pharisee gets confused with the translation. The Pharisee – religious spirit – is having a conversation with himself wondering if Jesus really is prophet (v39). This Pharisee is the Gospel of Mark is known as Simon the Leper. He is the one that considers Mary to be a “sinner.” (Who is calling the kettle black here?) A Pharisee with Leprosy would be an outcast, yet Jesus accepts the invitation to come dine in his home. Another key to this picture is found in John’s Gospel chapter twelve. John’s gospel was written approximately 20-25 years after Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John gives us the finished spectrum of many of the stories we find in the other gospels. The word used for “sinner” is the Greek word “hamartolos,” meaning to “miss the mark from your Divine purpose and calling. It does not mean that she was a prostitute or an adulteress woman. Some translation with interpret “sinner” as “immoral.” We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We can usually find a root in our past from the “ites” above. This is the same thing Mary was dealing with, yet with her love and compassion she had for Jesus, she reveals a humbling spirit despite the judgment of religion.
For this event, John let’s us know that this scene is taking place AFTER Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, since Lazarus is sitting there with Jesus and the Pharisee eating. What would your thoughts be if your brother who had been dead for four days was not only alive, but seated next to Jesus reclining?
Mary may or may not have been there at the first miracle Jesus did turning water into wine, but she was there at the last miracle as an eye-witness to testify her brother had been dead in the grave for four days, called out of the grave by the voice of Jesus, the grave cloth was removed by the people, and now her brother is alive seated with Jesus (John 12:1-2).