Coming out of Easter, I think it is an apt time to reflect on the meaning of Jesus’ ultimate Victory on the cross and how people responded to the Sacrifice he made for all. It’s always struck me that the crucifixion scene is a tale of great doubt but also of amazing faith.
The male disciples were, nowhere to be seen. Their ‘rock’ (Peter) denied knowing Jesus 3 times rather than admit having ever known Him. The only disciple who may have been at the cross was “the disciple beloved by Jesus” (John 20:2) who is never identified but could have been John the Evangelist. What the Gospels do tell us though is that there were “many women” (Matthew 27:55-56) following and supporting him through his mission and who were there right at the very end. In fact, there could have been as many as 5 Marys present at the cross (Jesus’ mother, the mother of James and Joseph, the mother of Zebedee’s sons, Mary of Clopas and Mary Magdalene). And of course, the resurrected Jesus was first seen by 3 women (Joanna, Mary-the mother of James and Mary Magdalene), and they were also the ones to tell the disciples the Good News even though they again doubted.
It’s Mary Magdalene though I would like to focus on, as I think she is an incredible example of how Jesus transforms peoples’ lives if they just let Him. This especially hit home with the excellent and first ever multi season show about Jesus- The Chosen- which started its 2nd series over Easter and it is free to watch-so binge on Jesus!
As you can see from the video above or here: Mary Magdalene explains what Jesus did for her to Nicodemus the Pharisee - Bing video, this is the scene where Nicodemus the Pharisee sees Mary after he tried to heal her from her affliction (7 demons had been got out) , and then meets her a few days later delighted but surprised to see her fully restored and ‘born again’.
When Mary talks about what has happened to her she simply states:
“It was someone else (who cured her), He (Jesus) said ‘I am his-I am redeemed’”.
When Nicodemus asks who it was who healed her, she tells him:
“I don’t know his name but even if I did, I would not tell you…the time for Man to know has not yet come”.
Mary explains: “ I was one way and now I am completely different, and the thing that happened in between was Him, so yes, I will know Him for the rest of my life”.
For Mary she went from someone with little or no quality of life, possessed by demons, who needed to be exorcised, and became a new person. It has been a common but almost certainly false myth that Mary had been a prostitute but there is no evidence of that in the Gospels, and that instead she had what we would now call serious mental health problems.
Mary became a senior confidante and follower of Jesus and was hugely instrumental in the really big moments of human history- at the crucifixion, the burial and finally the Resurrection.
I am reminded of the kind of emotions she must have experienced, when she was redeemed, by the song I Don’t Know How To Love Him from the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar (1971) where Mary sings:
“ I don’t know how to love him, what to do, how to move him. I’ve been changed, yes really changed. In these past few days, when I’ve seen myself, I seem like someone else”.
Those of us fortunate to have experienced the Lord will know how she felt, because we are transformed. Like Mary, we were once “one way” but now we are “completely different”. Say Amen to that!