A hand towel hanging in my bathroom reads, “The greater the storm, the brighter the rainbow.” It encourages me that the hardships I’ve faced open greater opportunities to shine the light of Jesus. As a believer in Jesus Christ, I have hope that he works all things (even the seemingly hopeless things) for his glory and for my good (Rom. 8:28). We see this truth played out in a marvelous way in the life of Mary Magdalene.
A common misconception is that Mary was lewd or immoral before Jesus transformed her life; however, there is no evidence of that in the Bible. What we do know was that she was possessed by seven demons. Demon possession is an affliction, not a sin. Certainly, sin—and specifically pre-conversion unbelief—opens a person to the possibility of becoming possessed, but persons afflicted by demons are tormented souls. And Mary was tormented seven times over. When I stop to consider that fact, the depth of her misery is hard to even imagine.
In biblical accounts of possession, we never see the individuals seek healing for themselves. Evil spirits want nothing to do with the power and presence of God. Rather, these persons are either brought to Jesus or he personally sought them out. In the case of Mary, Jesus went to her. We aren’t given a description of her physical state before she encountered Jesus, but one can guess that she was cast out and despised by her village, likely physically incapacitated in some way, and not in her right mind. She lived in a real and present spiritual darkness, without hope—that is, until Jesus showed up and radically changed her life.
Free in Christ
Mary went from a demoniac to a disciple. From being trapped in miserable darkness to being set free by the Light of the World. An isolated, worthless noncontributor to society now followed Christ in the flesh and shared in Christ’s earthly ministry. And I’m sure she was no small contributor. Mary was miraculously delivered of much, giving her much to testify about for the cause of Christ.
Though Mary isn’t mentioned often throughout the gospels, we know that she remained a devoted follower of Christ. She was one of the few who boldly stayed with Jesus throughout his whole crucifixion. Can you imagine the depth of her grief, being unable to help the one who had so greatly delivered her? And unlike the disciples, who had resorted to locking themselves in their homes for fear of the Jews, Mary again proved her devotion by planning to anoint Jesus’s dead body with costly spices in the wee hours of that first Easter morning.
It was Mary Magdalene who first saw the stone rolled away revealing the empty tomb, and it was Mary Magdalene to whom Jesus first revealed himself after his resurrection. Though her weeping and lack of recognition of her risen Savior indicated she didn’t fully understand or believe Jesus’s foretelling of his resurrection, it certainly proved the love she had for her “Rabboni,” the one who had set her free.
He Came for Mary, He Came for Me
And so, I ask myself, how do I demonstrate my devotion to Christ? Like Mary, Jesus also sought me while I was in darkness and delivered me from the depths of my own torments. He has revealed himself to me, even when my heart didn’t fully understand the truth of his gospel. Jesus has never left me, never forsaken me, and will be with me for all eternity. He has allowed me to share in his ministry by giving me a voice to proclaim that he alone is worthy. I can never repay him, but I can remain wholly devoted to him. And so, like Mary Magdalene, may devotion to my Lord ever be the theme of my story. May the dark clouds of earthly hardship serve as the backdrop on which his light reflects a greater hope—the hope of his glory!