Friday 20 July 2012

Mary Magdelene

This coming Sunday the Church of England honours the memory of Mary Magdelene and the Gospel reading is about her actions at the tomb of our Lord.

Mary is first mentioned in Luke’s Gospel where she is one of the rich women who supported Jesus financially. She came from a fishing village called Magdala so may well have been a business woman. We are told that Jesus liberated her from demons and it has been suggested, without foundation, that she was an immoral woman, but we are not told just what her trouble had been. Whatever it was it caused her to love Jesus deeply, accept Him as Lord and Saviour and made her vow to follow Him wherever He went.

When Jesus was taken to the Cross she stood with His mother to watch the awful scene, remaining to see Him placed in the tomb, and was first back at the tomb on Easter morning when of course she found it empty. She ran to tell the Apostles Peter and John who went and confirmed her story.

Mary was too distraught to leave the scene not realising Jesus had risen, but who indeed would ever have imagined a dead man rising back to life?

When someone we love dies we don’t really know how to deal with it. Those of us who have been through such a time can understand how Mary must have felt. She loved Jesus as she loved living and she was a loyal supporter. Death does not destroy or end love, it just takes another form. Some of you will remember loved ones and in your heart will feel you can still talk to them and say how much you miss them.

As she stood there weeping two angels in white were sitting in the place where Jesus had been and asked her why she was crying. She told them it was because Jesus had been taken away, and then saw Jesus standing by her but thought He was the gardener. She wanted to know where the body had been removed to so she could go and carry it back. When Jesus spoke she recognised Him and went to embrace Him but He told her not to touch Him.

There is a lesson for all of us in this story. Our Lord can be close to us even if we cannot see Him. It is often the case when we feel abandoned and sad He is closest to us so we must trust that He never will leave us to face life without Him. People tend to give up on God too quickly and feel they can face life in their own strength only to find they fail miserably.

Jesus told Mary to go and tell the disciples, and so she became the first Christian witness, and all who claim to be Christians are expected to do what Mary did and proclaim their faith. Jesus came to Mary in a personal way and we need to meet Him personally. For two thousand years the hearts of millions of men and women have been touched and their minds come to realise that Jesus can be with them as they face all of life’s burdens.

The Christian message is that Jesus stands at the door of your heart and asks to come in. He wants, and insists on, being invited, He will not force entry and then He will be with you on your life’s journey. If you have not yet made the invitation why not do so and get to know how He can set your life as free as He set Mary’s all those years ago.

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