Near the Cross – The Mary Who Served by Jesus’s Side:
Today we continue exploring the lives of the three Marys of Easter. Today, let’s look into the life of Mary Magdalene. This Mary is mentioned 12 times in the gospels, usually in a list of other women, but always toward the top of the list, meaning she usually was at the front in service to Christ. No one superseded Mary Magdalene’s utter devotion to the Master, and from the time she met Him, this Mary stayed at her Savior’s side, serving Him and attending to His needs “out of her means.”
Although a woman of means (Magdala was a wealthy community) she also had great struggle, being possessed by seven demons. Scripture tells us that as Jesus “went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God,” and healing the sick and the lame. That’s when He encountered Mary of Magdala and drove the seven demons from her. She followed Him from that time forward.
Her steadfast devotion never counted so much as it did at Christ’s crucifixion.
Mark 15:40-47 tells us that Mary Magdalene was among a group of women who looked on from a distance as Christ was crucified.
- Perhaps Mary Magdalene stayed steadfastly to the end because – at a time when women were held in low esteem – Jesus loved and sought her and other women out. He didn’t appoint them to positions of leadership or as His apostles, but He did treat them with respect and esteem. (Luke 8:1-3)
- Mary and the other women stayed, even as soldiers stood guard and Christ’s own disciples had fled. They did not allow fear of the soldiers’ might to overshadow their trust in the Almighty!
Mary Magdalene saw exactly where Christ’s body was buried. (Mark 15:47) She and some other women followed Joseph of Arimathea to the tomb where he placed Christ’s body. Those same women were the first to arrive at the tomb at break of dawn on the first day of the week, following the Sabbath and Passover. They came to anoint the body with spices. According to Mark 16, the women wondered aloud who would roll the stone away for them. That begs a few questions: When we are feeling the weight of the fray, how often do we try to handle God-sized situations with only our human strength? What would happen if we gave these concerns to God first?!
As for Mary Magdalene, God clearly and quickly answered her question: Mark 16 says: “They wondered who would roll away the stone.” But the stone already had been removed! “And a young man in a white robe was sitting in the tomb on the right. He gave them these instructions: ‘Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see Him just as he told you.’”
Matthew 28 tells us that Mary departed (the empty tomb) with fear and great joy! And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshipped Him. (John’s account says that Jesus told Mary not to cling to Him – encouraging her to let go of the human Jesus, for He will be even closer to her by His Spirit at His ascension) That begs the question: Do we live each day, particularly in the midst of the fray, acutely aware that our Savior is right there with us at all times?
Mary Magdalene saw the hope – Christ Himself, resurrected – and she ran to share that hope with His disciples! How poignant that, even though woman was the first to sin in the Garden of Eden, woman also became the first to witness the resurrected, redeeming Christ! Mary Magdalene’s life urges us to share God’s truth with a broken world.
What about us? Will we follow the example of Mary Magdalene? As she rose early on that Easter morning, will we rise early each day to see our Savior? Will we join Him in the Sublime Soiree He’s laid out for us? These are great questions to ponder while we purpose to live free above the fray!
The Sublime Soiree © March 2021