She wasn’t a whore.
She had a complicated past, and who doesn’t? But she wasn’t that.
Not that it mattered. A woman with seven demons was always going to have a burden to carry, a cross for life.
In a culture where she had little power anyway, she had lived robbed of even the singular role of being a dutiful wife by her affliction. Her future was written, her past was the prologue, her story unremarkable… just another woman, tainted by rumour and malady, destined to be forgotten.
Until one day she wasn’t.
Jesus encountered her somewhere, somehow, and in a moment, set her free. Every demonic bondage fled in the presence of Love perfected and suddenly her past would no longer write the story of her future.
Mary. Or as she is sometimes called, the Magdalene.
Before Jesus, her life had been a grim reminder of the darkness that grips the human soul, beset by demons but still inconsequential, mattering to no one.
But she, like all of us, mattered to Him. And after Jesus set her free from the demons she’d been tormented by, she became one of the other followers He had beyond the Twelve.
She was there when He died. She was there when He was buried. And when the other disciples deserted Him and hid in fear, she stayed… to the bitter end.
She had nowhere else to go. The only freedom, hope and acceptance she’d ever known had been as His follower and His friend.
And here, now, in this third Garden, she finds the stone rolled away. In desperation she runs to find Peter and John. They come to investigate, but finding the tomb empty, they leave bewildered.
The Magdalene stays. Weeping, shaken by His crucifixion and now distraught at the loss of the body of Jesus she had come to anoint in death, she refuses to leave the last place she knew He was.
She refuses to leave the one person who’d ever shown her that her past was not her story.
“They have taken my Lord away” she said when the two beings clothed in white asked her why she wept.
You see, for Mary, Jesus wasn’t just the Lord… He was her Lord. Her deliverer, her hope, her rabbi, and her friend. And now He was gone.
Even when she thought she was being questioned by the gardener, she promised that wherever His body had been taken, she would get to Him, somehow.
She’d found Hope, finally. And she wouldn’t let go.
Then He says her name.
And she knew that voice. It was the same voice that set her free from the demons before and suddenly He was there. Again.
And then before she perhaps grasped the enormity of the moment, she was rushing back to tell the others.
She was running into History.
Of all the people in all of the world, Jesus chose this woman to be the first preacher of the Resurrection story that would shape all things forevermore. Her past was just the prologue, it only set the scene; it just made the rescue all the sweeter and the story even more miraculous with hope.
Mary the Magdalene, was not a whore, but it wouldn’t have mattered to Jesus if she had been one. She was just a woman carrying the weight of the world, suffocated with her demons, lost in the darkness, but found by Jesus. Her story was rewritten with Love eternal, risen from a fight to the death against all of the works of our sin and our shame.
She wasn’t her prologue. Instead, she was the first herald of the Resurrection.
Her demons weren’t bigger than her risen Lord and her past wasn’t bigger than His future.
And neither is ours.
No matter our past, no matter our burdens, no matter our sins, no matter the measure of our shame, it’s all just the prologue to our real story: that once we were lost, but now we have been found.
Our story is the Resurrection, and hallelujah… He is risen indeed.