Richard Exley Ministries


Mary Magdalene - The First Easter
Posted on April 05, 2007

When Jesus died, I lost not only by dearest friend, but my reason for living as well. Like Peter, I truly believed Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of the living God." Now I don't know what to believe. As I watched Him die two days ago, something died inside of me. A black despair enveloped me, give birth to an all too familiar hopelessness.

For two nights and a day I have wrestled with my tormenting thoughts, and I am no nearer a resolution.  Was Jesus just a man, an extraordinary man to be sure, but still just a man? His death seems to prove that beyond question. Yet, if He was only a man, how do I explain His miracles?  More importantly, how do I explain what He did for me?

For years I existed in a nightmare world.  I lived in the darkness inside of me with those who had taken residence there -- malevolent spirits, abused and abusing. My name became a byword in the city of my birth -- Mary the mad whore of Magdala.  The life I lived I hated, as I hated myself, but I was powerless to change. I was a prisoner, and death seemed my only escape.

Then one day He came, this itinerant holy man, the one they called Jesus. I waited until he was alone, and then I approached Him, driven by the demons within.  It was not His help I sought, but His destruction.  With a well-deserved confidence I set out to make short work of this popular prophet.

Intuitively I knew He could not be approached as other men. With them I appealed to the weakness of their flesh, reducing them to puppets of their passion. He was different. His strength was His weakness. His compassion would be His undoing.

"Prophet," I called in a voice hardly more than a whisper, "have you a moment?"

Peering into the shadows where I stood, His eyes sought mine. It was as if He looked into my soul! Suddenly I felt naked. Ashamed. And a strange feeling it was for a woman such as I, a woman who had shamelessly sold her nude flesh to more men than she could remember.
He spoke a single word then: "Mary."

No man had ever called me by my name. Woman? Yes. Whore? More times than I would like to remember. Even sweetheart in the heat of passion. But never Mary.

Inside me the spirits were in a frenzy. "Flee!" they screamed. "It's a trap!"

As I turned to go He spoke my name again, and the darkness within eased just a little and then a bit more. Love washed over me, His love, and I found myself weeping. Almost without realizing what I was doing, I slipped out of the shadows and knelt at His feet. Reaching down He placed His hand on my head and said, "Be free!"

At His words the darkness was shattered; the spirits expelled!

Taking my hand, He drew me to my feet and looked deep into my eyes. "Daughter," He said, "your sins are forgiven."

There was no shame then, nor fear -- only love. A holy love, pure and clean. Gone was the madness within. Gone was my shame and sickness of soul. Gone was my brokenness and despair. Gone was all my sin, washed away in the light of His love!

If He was only a man, how do I explain that?

Yet, if He was indeed the Son of God as He claimed, what does His death mean? Is God now dead? Has evil triumphed over good? 

The answers are beyond me. All I know is that Jesus is dead, and I am alone.
 
Morning is just a smudge of light on the horizon as I enter the garden. For just a moment I am disoriented. Things look so different in the dark, and the tomb I have found is empty. 

Carefully I retrace my steps, thinking I must have taken the wrong path. No. This is the right way, of that I am sure.

But the tomb is empty and all I can think is that the religious leaders have stolen the body of my Lord. Wasn't it enough to kill Him? Must they now desecrate His body as well?

Weeping disconsolately before the empty tomb, the darkness threatens to reclaim me, and I cling to my sanity by my fingernails. Then through my tears I see a man approaching through the early morning shadows.  "Sir!" I cry, not even attempting to disguise my grief, "If you know where they have taken the body of Jesus, please tell me."

He answers me with a single word, a single word that dispels the darkness within. A single word that rescinds all of the madness of Friday. A single word that undoes all of the damage wrought by my grief. A single word that forever shatters the myth of death.

"Mary," He says, and like the first time He called my name, love washes over me, and joy.  Once more I know who I am, Mary Magdalene, beloved of the Father and the Son.

Not Mary, the mad whore of Magdala.  Not Mary, the abused, the rejected, the dirty toy of even dirtier men. Not Mary, the habitation of demons. Not even Mary, the bereaved.

With that single word, all sin and death have attempted to do and all hell's fury has threatened is undone.

"Teacher!" I cry, falling before Him, my heart undone. He's not dead, I think in amazement. He's not dead! Like the angels said, "He is risen!"

And then He is gone -- yet in a way I can't explain He isn't gone. I can't see Him, but I have the strongest sense the He is here, that He will always be here, nearer than the breath I breathe and more alive than life itself.

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Category: Hope