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Welcome to Words of Life. I'm Cheryl Gillum, and I'm with my co-host. Bernie Dake.
Hey, Bernie. This week in our series with Helen Starrett, she will be studying the often misunderstood Mary Magdalene. If you've missed any episodes of the series, it began in June studying the story of Abigail. Visit salvationarmysoundcast.org to subscribe and get caught up.
Welcome. We've studied women's stories who could have been TV reality series, soap operas, murder mysteries, and romance miniseries. For those of us old enough to remember the TV show To Tell the Truth, at the end, the host would say, would the real please stand up? The real Mary Magdalene will be revealed to us today. You can be members of the panel to identify her. You'll find her story recorded in each of the gospels. In just a few words, this is who she was not.
She was not a prostitute. She was not the wife of Jesus. There are four accounts recorded of our precious Mary Magdalene.
All four gospel writers record the story. Each has a different interpretation. There are four points of view of the same scenes, but all agreed of the importance of women in Jesus' ministry. There is some issue and confusion with Mary.
This is a case of mistaken identity. It's not a question of her morality. She is not the woman who is accused of prostitution. There is no record in scripture that she was involved in this trade. No matter what she was, Jesus changed her life. Mary was not seeking Jesus. However, the shepherds searched and rescued her.
Aren't we so very thankful that he never stopped seeking those who are lost? We know that Mary was possessed by seven demons. Jesus had other encounters where he drove out demons.
We know that there was self-inflicted pain where it's recorded the man would use rocks to cut himself. Today, people struggle with demons, drugs, sex, work, violence, food. Satan makes us hurt ourselves. The devil is as ready today as he was in Mary Magdalene's time. Demon possession could result in obsession with death and darkness, endless restlessness, and isolation.
It can be physical, emotional, or moral. Demons on the inside look like madness on the outside. It's important to note here that Jesus never associated demon possession with sin. Mary meets Jesus. He commanded the demons to leave Mary. Her suffering would have been severe. Her life would have been one of darkness, misery, hopelessness, with no cure. She was a hopeless case before she met Jesus. She was healed of the evil spirits and demonic bondage. She was possessed by Satan and repossessed by Jesus. From that moment, she was set free. She was made whole by the transforming touch of Jesus. Everything in her life changed. When we accept Jesus and ask for his forgiveness, everything changes. There is a heart change. When we allow him to, God will fight the demons in our lives and help us to guard our hearts. After Jesus commanded the demons to leave Mary, everything in her life changed.
It's the same for us today. When we accept Jesus and ask for his forgiveness, and ask for his forgiveness, everything changes. Maybe not the physical change that Mary encountered.
Nevertheless, there's a heart change. When we realize Mary's condition at the time she met Jesus, we might not think of her looking disheveled, dirty, and wild in behavior. This may be how we looked without Christ. But as he did Mary, he reaches out to bring us to him. Some of the people Jesus healed were sent home to their families. Mary followed him and served him. She was a faithful follower. She seems to have become the leader of the women who followed Jesus.
Her name always appears first when the women are mentioned. Mary left her home to follow Jesus. Maybe she wanted to stay close to Jesus to protect herself from Satan. We know that she was grateful that Jesus had cast out the demons. She also proved her love and devotion to Jesus throughout his ministry and his crucifixion and resurrection. She followed Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem for Passover and was loyal to follow him to the cross.
We need to follow Mary's example and stay close to Jesus so he can protect us from Satan. The men followed Jesus because he called them. The women followed Jesus out of love and gratitude. He healed them, delivered them, saved them. For Mary, Jesus turned darkness to light.
Thank you, Jesus, for doing the same for us. We know that Mary and several other women were a part of Jesus' ministry. We believe she may have come from a wealthy family and contributed financially to Jesus' work. It's also believed that she and the other women took care of Jesus and the disciples' physical needs. Mary had a front row seat for Jesus' teaching and ministry. She was faithful in following Jesus. Following for her was not an option.
It was a necessity. Mary was at the trial when the crowd shouted, crucify him. She was there while Jesus struggled to carry the cross to Gethsemane. She was at the cross when the nails were driven into Jesus' hands and feet. She stayed until she heard Jesus say, it is finished. She was at the burial. She was at the tomb. The women were witness to the greatest crime ever committed. Mary Magdalene was one of the last to leave Calvary. Much is mentioned regarding the disciples' abandonment of Jesus.
It may have been for reasons of safety. No matter, the women stayed to the end. Mary stood at the foot of the cross listening to Jesus speaking to his mother in John. She could not bear to watch but could not bear to leave.
She could only watch, pray, and grieve. The women stayed and stayed and stayed showing their perseverance. It teaches us that where Jesus leads, we follow.
No matter the circumstances, we need to keep our eyes and our hearts focused on Jesus. Mary sat and watched as Jesus was put in the tomb. If the women had not followed, they would not have known where to go when it was time to bring their spices. The women thought they were coming for one final expression of their love for Jesus. They were so focused on their mission to bring spices to prepare his body for proper burial, they did not consider the obstacles they might encounter. They had watched the stone be put in place and sealed when Jesus was buried. Did they not wonder how they would move it?
They weren't thinking about obstacles, they were thinking about Jesus. Well, there's a surprise at the tomb. It's daybreak and the stone is rolled away. The stone had been moved for the women.
The stone was not moved so Jesus could get out, but so the women could see inside. The empty tomb causes confusion and fear. Instead of a dead body, they find angels heralding the resurrection. Mary realizes the body is gone. She runs to get Peter and John. The men are broken hearted. Peter and John run to the tomb.
They must look for themselves. Peter is bewildered and John comes out believing. Peter returns to Jerusalem. Mary stayed and she waited. She needed to know what happened to Jesus.
What matters here is her faithfulness. Mary looks in the tomb again and she sees what Peter and John did not. She saw the angels. Then someone says, why are you crying? Jesus wants us to vocalize our needs to him. Mary meets Jesus.
She turned and at first she doesn't recognize him. Why? Too many tears? Too many tears?
Too little light? Too little faith? We know Mary had a conversation at the tomb. Thinking she's speaking with the gardener, she asks, where Jesus is?
If you know where he is, tell me and I'll go and get him. I can see a little humor in scripture at times. How would she move him? Where would she put him? Mary does not expect to hear Jesus speak to her. She did not recognize Jesus until he spoke her name. Mary. Immediately she recognized Jesus.
Sorrow turned to joy. With her eyes she saw. With her ears she heard.
With her hands she touched. She is the first witness of the resurrection. Jesus instructs her to go and tell the disciples where to meet him. She now becomes the first announcer of the resurrection. She is instructed to tell the good news. Jesus trusted Mary to pass on this good news.
The visit to the tomb ended up like a party. The promise of the resurrected Lord was a reality for all those who believed. Our party invitation comes when Jesus returns.
May we be ready. This week, may God show you the extraordinary in the ordinary. Blessings to you today. The Salvation Army's mission, Doing the Most Good, means helping people with material and spiritual needs. You become a part of this mission every time you give to the Salvation Army. Visit salvationarmyusa.org to offer your support and we'd love to hear from you. Call 1-800-229-9965 or email us at radio at uss.salvationarmy.org.
Tell us how we can help. Share prayer requests or share your testimony. We would love to use your story on the air. You can also subscribe to our show on iTunes or your favorite podcast store and be sure to give us a rating. Just search for the Salvation Army's Words of Life. Follow us on social media for the latest episodes, extended interviews and more. And if you don't have a church home, we invite you to visit your local Salvation Army worship center. They'll be glad to see you. This is Bernie Dake inviting you to join us next time for the Salvation Army's Words of Life.
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