Strike #1: She was a woman.
Strike #2: She earned her living as a prostitute.
Strike #3: She was controlled by 7 demons.
Three strikes---you’re out.
Mary Magdalene knew this mentality prevalent in Jewish society all too well.
To the religious leaders, she was a sinner. Unclean. They avoided her like the plague, fearful that her sins were contagious and would ruin their stellar reputations. They didn’t see her as a soul in need of repentance. She was evil, and should be avoided. Mary was all too familiar with the pain of being an outcast.
Those who knew her personally, the family and friends she grew up with, gave up long ago. I’d imagine most people saw her as a hopeless individual—too many demons, too many problems, too much sin. What could be done? They looked at her the way we sometimes look at people. We say, “Oh, that’s just Mary. She’s always been that way. She’ll always be that way. Nobody knows what to do with her!”
For all intensive purposes, she was “out” of the game of life.
Useless. What good could ever come from her?
People shunned her, fearful of the evil presences ruling her life. She was banned from normal life activities and spiritual services. She lived a life of loneliness, torment, and torture as she existed daily in a state of demonic oppression.
Then she met Jesus.
Jesus looked past Mary’s problems and looked into her soul. Jesus saw past the shunning and social taboo placed on her. Instead, He saw a woman in need of freedom. He took compassion on her and cast the seven spirits out of her. From that moment on, Mary lived in freedom.
If anyone understood that Jesus came to earth to comfort those who mourned, free those held captive, and release people from darkness, it was Mary.
Jesus restored Mary to a place of a sound mind, free of demonic oppression. He allowed her to enter into fellowship with Him, His disciples, and the circle of women who followed Him, eager to serve in whatever way possible. Jesus gave her the one thing that she never had under the oppression of demonic power:
She had hope for a better life. She had the hope of living happy and healthy. Each new day was a testimony to Jesus’ power over the kingdom of darkness. She experienced life on a level she never imagined, and it was all due to Him.
Then came the day that she and the other women who were following Jesus were forced to stand by His cross and watch Him die.
“Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed Him and cared for His needs. Many other women who had come up with Him to Jerusalem were also there. (Mark 15:40-41)
I wonder what Mary was thinking as she watched Him die? She must have wondered if the end of His life would also mean the end of the freedom and hope she enjoyed. She couldn’t imagine the thought of having to go back under the oppression in which she once lived. How do you go back to a life of solitude and torment when you have experienced the freedom that only Jesus could give?
Whatever her thoughts, they were interrupted by a cry from the cross. She looked upwards at the One to Whom she owed her freedom. He cried out in a loud voice “It Is Finished”. Then He lowered His head and died.
Immediately, the forces in the Heavenlies seemed to rage at a greater level than ever before as the sun went dark and the earth shook. Evil seemed to prevail.
Mary was heartbroken. The One she loved and served was dead. Freedom for the captives seemed gone forever. Mary thought it all was over with the cry “It is finished”. She didn’t know it was just the beginning. All she knew was that He was gone and her heart was shattered.
Still, there was a resilience about Mary and the other women who followed Jesus to the cross. They didn’t abandon Jesus. Unlike the disciples who ran and Peter who denied Him, they stood firm in their loyalty. In fact, it was the women who followed Him beyond the cross into Resurrection Day.
Luke 24:1-11 tells us their story.
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the Living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen! Remember how He told you, while He was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”
Then they remembered His words. When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.
I find it fascinating that the first people God chose to hear the good news of Christ’s resurrection from the dead were the women who faithfully followed Him and supported Him while He was on earth!
Later, we read that the first person Jesus appeared to after His resurrection was Mary Magdalene. (John 20:10-18)
Think about it: Jesus made His first appearance in His resurrected body to a woman that many people had written off as hopeless.
However, in Jesus, there is always hope.
Remember, before she met Jesus, Mary Magdalene wasn’t what anyone would call a success story. She was a woman with many labels: Sinner. Failure. Demon-possessed. Hopeless. Useless. Unredeemable.
But that’s not what Jesus saw when He met her. As He does with all of us, Jesus looked past Mary’s problems and looked into her soul. When He looked into her soul, He saw the woman she was originally created to be. He also saw the circumstances that damaged her soul, and allowed entrance to the demons that were destroying her life.
Still, He didn’t stop there. Because Jesus is God, He saw what He could do to change Mary. He saw the valuable treasure she could become for the kingdom of God.
What a difference—from a demonically controlled woman to an evangelist all because of what Jesus did in her life! This hope is what Jesus offers to every person who will come to Him and accept Him as the Savior and Lord of their life.
This is the reason that there is hope for every woman on the planet. Like He did with Mary, when Jesus looks at you, He sees a woman who He loves. As He did with Mary, He doesn’t just look at the outward finished product.
In the same way, I don’t know what caused the pain and brokenness that is inside of you. However, I do know one thing.
No matter who or what is responsible for damaging your soul, Jesus wants to heal you.
Yes, He knows about your issues and your sin, but that’s not all He knows. He knows why you are the way you are. He wants to offer you the same new life that He offered to Mary. He can give you hope—a chance to start over again.
That is the heart of Jesus reaching out to each one of us, offering us the hope of a new life of freedom and spiritual health in Him.
Just as everything changed on Easter, over 2000 years ago, so your life can be completely today.
Because of Jesus, there is hope—hope for salvation, hope for a new life, and hope for eternity. The question is, “Will you, like Mary Magdalene, accept Jesus’ offer of hope and submit your life completely to Him?”
For her, answering “Yes” meant freedom from the past, change in the present, and a hope for the future. The same can be true for you.
To Read More About Finding Your Own Fresh Start in Life, read Finding Healing