I am solid in the knowledge that I am the beloved and Jesus knows me for all that I am.
Mary Magdalene Reflection
There is much of her story, which I – like many other women out there - can relate to, so I wanted to share my thoughts with you.
Who is she?
Mary, a Jewish woman from the village of Magdala, was known as Mary Magdalene. We know little of who she was before she devoted her life to following Jesus, although, there have been plenty of anecdotal comments and assumptions of who she was believed to have been, which have been built up over centuries. She is one of many Mary’s to be men- tioned in the bible – Mary Mother of Jesus, Mary of Bethany, Mary Mother of James and Joseph, Mary wife of Clopas, the list goes on – making it ever more difficult to work out who she really was, without ever having the opportunity to ask her herself.
Mary Magdalene has been portrayed as many different characters over the years. She has been a prostitute, sibyl (a female prophet), mystic, a celibate nun, and a feminist icon, just to name a few, and not to forget it was suggested that she had an intimate relationship with Jesus. This perception of Mary was not helped in Luke 8, when he seems to set a path to suggesting she is not of good origin, just like in the description that is being used here; “Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons” Luke 8: 1-2b,
immediately, the phrase ‘seven demons’ has you thinking negatively towards her. Could this just simply mean that she had a few habits that were not in keeping with living a life which is ‘God-like’ - such as being greedy, showing envy, and/or pride, among others - and that by doing so she was not demonstrating the two greatest commandments? “Jesus said ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” Matthew 22:37 -40
It seems as though the less people truly know about a person, the more their life becomes the topic for conversation and misrepresentation, remember the game of ‘Chinese whispers’? In Luke 7 it is said of Jesus “if this man were a prophet, he would know who this woman is that is touching him and what a bad name she has” I wonder where or when he may made this assumption from.
What do we know? We know that Mary Magdalene supported Jesus in His ministry, we know that she devoted her life to him, we know that when Jesus was abandoned by all the men around Him in his hour of need, it was Mary Magdalene who was there, right by His side. She watched, as the man she had devoted her life to, was Crucified: “Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.” (Matthew 27:56) and as He was buried: “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.” (Matthew 27:61). Furthermore, it was Mary Magdalene among the women who Jesus first appeared to, as written in Matthew 28, verses 1 to 10.
Many assumptions were made of Mary Magdalene, when in fact, there is little evidence to suggest she was any of the things people were saying about her. I can relate to that having gone to a school in an area considered to be more affluent than Chelmsley Wood (let’s face it, at that time 30+ years ago, most places were considered to better than Chelmsley), with peers who’s parents were able to afford a lot of the things which mine (and many of those I lived near) weren’t, peers whose parents were the typical mom, dad, 2.4 family, dad had a really good well paid job, and mom worked part-time just because she wanted to rather than needed to, so there would always be someone there to provide for them. Take them to after school activities and socialise them in suitable settings. Those parents took one look at me walking through their door and made their assumptions that their child should not spend time with me, and proceeded to tell their children just that.
Why, I hear you ask! You see I was the kid that was dropped to school in the council operated taxi service, they were not seen as much back then and were always associated with ‘naughty’ kids. I firstly used this service to and from foster homes, and then I used it to get back and forth from my home after that.
So let’s just tick number two on the list for the reason parents want to avoid me having anything to do with their children, my friends, “I want you to stay away from her, she’s bad news, she’s in foster care”. Oh, and then let us add number three, I had my gorgeous baby boy at the ripe young age of 14. Each of these things gave the parents even more reason to not want me around but not once did any of them ever sit down and speak to me to ask me why my situation was as it were. They continued with their judgement and assumption. The point is whatever others think of you, there will always be something which is not favourable to some, like Mary and the ‘seven demons’, or like a younger me in a world when ‘children in need’ were not understood, in many cases not even noticed, and considered to be reflective of the child rather than the circumstances.
I spent many years worrying about what others would say about me, and were saying about me, but there is something that I have learned, something which every person – man, woman, and child – should know and be. Today I am (fairly) solid in the knowledge that I am the beloved and Jesus knows me for all that I am and loves me just the same. It doesn’t matter who you’ve been, if you truly repent (turn away and turn to Jesus) from the life that once was, truly want to change, and are casting out the ‘demons’, you are forgiven and are still loved.
What’s more is that it doesn’t matter who others think you are, it matters who Jesus knows you are. It matters that if you have wronged in the past that you forgive yourself, learn from it, and use it to help others, if you are able and its appropriate to do so. Ultimately, whatever you do, people will make their own decisions about who they think you are; that’s OK, they’re allowed their opinion, even if it differs from yours – just as some see Mary.
Magdalene as a woman of ill repute, others see her as the devoted follower of Jesus. And Jesus treated her, as He did all women, with respect, as an equal. Was Mary a loose haired prostitute, just a modest stranger who prepared Jesus for the tomb, or was she Jesus’ beloved friend?
Whatever/whoever Mary was before she met Jesus, she came to know Him and Him her, and before no longer mattered. Was it Jesus’ six priorities, which drew her to Him, like it does me? The People, the Teaching, Team Building, Prayer, Prophetic Challenge and Love.
What draws you to Jesus?