July 12, 2017
Mad Mary is One of Us
“After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others.” Luke 8:1-3a NIV.
Friend to Friend
She was just a normal little girl frolicking about the house, toying with the goats, and sticking her fingers in her mother’s rising dough. After her father died, Mary’s mother tried her best to raise the child on what little her husband had left behind. But when puberty began to bloom, a poisonous weed began to take root in Mary’s mind. With each passing year, her behavior grew more and more erratic.
Often she was seen banging her head against the wall of their modest home, screaming curses to unseen shadows, crawling like an animal through the yard, and cutting her arms with sharp edged stones. Mary’s mother was almost relieved when the deranged young woman ran away to live among the tombs. “Now I won’t have to deal with her craziness,” her mother breathed.
Mary Magdalene was an outcast, demon-possessed lunatic – unwanted, unclean, untouchable, and unapproachable. But all that was about to change.
“Peter,” Jesus spoke as he led the troupe of men toward the cemetery on the fringes of Magdala, “I need to stop by here for a moment.”
“But why,” John questioned. “Do you have a relative’s grave you wish to visit?”
“Not a physically dead relative,” my friend, “but a spiritually dead sister who needs me.”
With confused looks on their faces, Jesus’ friends knew not to argue with Jesus’ travel plans. It seemed he always had an agenda that they didn’t know about.
As soon as the band of disciples neared the tombs, a half-dressed woman in tattered rags bolted from the brush.
“We know who you are,” the woman hissed. “You are the Son of God. What do you want with us?”
The disciples recoiled at the sight and stench of this mad woman, but Jesus drew near. Certainly this was not the sister he mentioned. With a shout, Jesus directed his words toward the woman, but rebuked the demons within. “Come out of her!”
The woman fell to the ground in a violent seizure. After a few moments of blood curdling screams and obscene curses, she lay perfectly still.
“Is she dead?” James asked.
“No, my friend,” Jesus replied. “She is actually more alive than she has ever been.”
Jesus knelt down beside her, brushed the hair from her eyes and extended his hand. “Mary, Daughter of Abraham, rise to newness of life.”
The disciples stared wide-eyed as Mary stood to her feet and in her right mind. Her crazy countenance was replaced by perfect peace.
“Thank you, thank you,” she cried as tears of freedom and joy coursed down her weathered cheeks.
Jesus turned to walk away to his next assignment, but rather than stand and stare in awe, Mary ran to follow. The disciples waited for Jesus to send her away. They were quite surprised when he did the opposite and motioned for her to come along. From that day on, she would remain among the disciples to do whatever she could to further the ministry of Jesus.
We don’t know much about Mary Magdalene’s encounter with Jesus and her deliverance from demons. A closer look at her emancipation only allows us to examine one solitary sentence. “The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out…” (Luke 8:2).
For most of my life, I pictured Jesus traveling about with his twelve disciples. After all, isn’t that the picture in the Sunday school books? It was only recently that the landscape in my mind changed dramatically. I had to walk over to the easel in my mind and paint a new picture on a fresh canvas. Jesus didn’t travel about with only the twelve men. Luke lets us know that there were women who travelled with them as well: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and many others.
“…and many others.” I just love that. These were women who had been healed, delivered, saved and empowered by Jesus. Where have they been all my life? They’ve been there all along, but somehow I’ve missed their influence and impact on Jesus’ earthly ministry. I’ve allowed ancient artists to paint the pictures of Jesus and his entourage in my mind rather than Scripture.
Now we are a part of “…and many others.” In Jesus’ day, women were not allowed to study under a Rabbi’s teaching, attend temple services in the same room with the men, or even talk to men in public. But Jesus came to change all that. He showed great love and respect for God’s female image bearers and risked his reputation to save theirs. He flung open the doors to His classroom for them to learn and the doors of the Kingdom for them to serve.
I hope you know just how much God loves you today. Jesus is proof of just how much He does.
Dear LORD, Thank You for all you did to set women free to play leading roles in Your redemptive story. I pray that I, like Mary Magdalene, will do what I can to further the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Today’s retelling of Mary Magdalene was somewhat fictitious. It is easy to read the stories of the women in the Bible and forget that they were flesh and blood just like you and me. I hope today’s devotion helped you see what her life might have been like.
Most likely, you have not been delivered from 7 demons like our sister Mary, but if you know Jesus Christ as Savior, you have been delivered from darkness. Look up the following verses and note how you have been delivered from darkness.
More from the Girlfriends
One of my most important books is How Jesus Broke the Rules to Set you Free: God’s Plan for Women to Walk in Power and Purpose.We tend to read the gospels with our twenty-first century eyes. But when we understand how oppressive the culture Jesus stepped into was against women, we begin to understand just how radical Jesus’ ministry, messages, and miracles were at setting women free. He risked His reputation to save theirs…and yours. This is an in-depth look at every woman in the New Testament and how Jesus changed their lives. Click here to watch a short video or download a free sample chapter. You’ll fall in love with Jesus all over again.
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Originally published Wednesday, 12 July 2017.