Mary Magdalene on the day Jesus died

One of the greatest cruelties—if not the greatest cruelty in history—was done to Mary Magdalene.  She was once sold on the streets. She knew the special insanity of demon possession.  She knew the yawning blackness of total despair.

Jesus rescued her.  Jesus cast out 7 vicious devils—devils she thought would never leave.  Once deemed human garbage she is now redeemed, and rooted into a family of indescribable love.  Things would never be the same.  Her nights of remorse, her days of futility, her shame, her emptiness were all distant memories.

For 3 years, she lived a life she could have never imagined.  Crisscrossing Judea, hanging on Jesus’ every word, weeping gloriously over every miracle.  Each morning she awakened a more powerful and joyous woman of God!  She thought that this would go on forever.

People use the phrase “nothing could be worse…”  They use it before describing something unimaginably terrible.  I will use it this way: Nothing could be worse than to be in hell, and then taste heaven, only to return to hell.

Then on that fateful Friday it all went horribly, horribly wrong.  How could the one who called the dead back to life, and silenced a storm at sea be arrested?  How could one who gave words of exquisite beauty, love and wisdom, be tortured and killed.  No one wanted to save Jesus more than Mary.  No one felt more horror and helplessness than she.

That night, profound hope had given way to even deeper bitterness and disappointment.  If only I had never met him.  If only he had left me to die in the streets.  She slept only after exhaustion became more powerful than sorrow.   Too wounded to go on living.  Maybe too tired to commit suicide.

Mary matters to me today because her testimony is the best one I can think of on this Good Friday in such a dark time.  Mary’s miracle is the one America needs now!  Here’s why…

When the first shafts of Sunday morning light stirred her awake, she dreaded it.  If ever a heart was broken beyond repair—if ever a soul would rage against the approach of hope—if ever a woman just wanted to go back to sleep and never wake up, it was Mary.

That is why she was shocked when she felt an odd energy.  She soon felt an even stranger impulse… to go to the grave of Jesus?  How could she return to the only spot on earth that could open her wound wider?

What overruled her despair?  What fuel is driving her so completely against her common sense and her broken heart?  Paul answers that emphatically! “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”- Romans 8:11

Do you know any therapist capable of rebuilding the ashes and rubble in her soul?  Can any drug, any teaching, any relationship, reassemble her heart the way this gentle but powerful influence could?

We all know about the power of the resurrection.  It was the greatest display of power the universe has ever known; even greater than the alleged “big bang” that birthed the universe. It sent shock waves through the principalities and powers of darkness.  It shattered hell and stripped Satan of the keys of death.  Jesus set the captives free in the bowels of the earth and “led captivity captive.”

But the first burst of resurrection power was much gentler. She was the first human to feel the power of the resurrection.  Her eyes which were red and sore from sobbing are now refreshed and clear.  Her arms which hung limp from heartsick lethargy were now responsive, strong, and full of purpose. She sat up and found hope pumping through her veins. She did not know why!

A notion gently but firmly seizes her.  She was to go to the grave.  She got going!  Washing up, brushing her hair, and quickly getting dressed; all the while the expectancy of some indescribable something is building in her soul.  Before she knows it she is out the door and charging toward her worst fear.  Only she is not afraid.

She found the tomb vacant.  She turned and saw Him whom her soul loved.  Many awesome things happened that Easter but none more wonderful than Mary reunited with her Savior.

In the genetically altered, politically charged, drug addicted, violent purgatory that is America, Mary Magdalene stands as a poignant figure.   She is the best testimony I can think of for our national dreams that have gone up in smoke.  Our culture has wearied itself with perversion…hunted everything natural and replaced it with a disfigured counterfeit… it has marched, protested, boycotted the very color and life out of everything—everything is a cause to take offense.

What happened to Mary is why there is nothing better than the Gospel.  America!  This is what you need!

Mark 16:9, “Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.” HE APPEARED FIRST TO HER!  He never forgot her. He knew she was suffering the most so He healed this precious soul first!

Detente: The one thing that is stopping you from making the changes you want.

It takes raw courage to face the fact that you are imprisoned by a host of things you have agreed to do that you are not supposed to do. 

Your flesh says that not doing these things will bring dire consequences.  Let me show you how living in détente is the dire consequence and that you will never know the cost you are paying for your current  life until you are set free. Sadly, we wait for crisis to bring about needed changes.  It is a happy day when we learn to change before crisis forces it. It is an even happier day when we learn to make the changes that matter.

Take the following steps:

1. Know the difference between the important and the expedient:  1 Corinthians 10: 23 says, “all things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” There are a lot of things that need to be done but not all of them need to be done right now.  The only way to know the difference between the expedient (what must be done right away) and the important (good things to do later) is to get alone and quiet your spirit.  You must be in contact with God through prayer and you must have a plan.  God will give you eyes to see distractions and your plan is the map to keep you on course and help you to measure your progress.

2. Once you have chosen a course of action avoid multitasking.  Multitasking is the most overrated work style today. I keep a small erasable black board right by my computer to remind me of what I am doing! The temptation to read and respond to emails, faxes, phone calls are always there.  Now is not the time to deal with those things.  Trying to do it all at once damages the quality of your work and delays everything. Do not be afraid to let people know that you are unavailable. Focus on what you know needs to be done and do not stop until it is done.

3. Relationships matter and business deals can wait.  If you see family and friends as something that you will get to later you are in trouble.  If you make relationships a priority, God will make sure the deal will still be there.  On the other hand what will you do if you lose your family and the deal?

4. Convictions matter short term gains do not.   Our culture says, “If you fudge and take a short cut with the truth who will get hurt or If you agree to partner with a shady character for a quick advantage, who will know?” Mess with your moral compass you will give off the scent that you cannot be trusted.  You will never develop the confidence of others so necessary for true success.  Excellence will elude you because excellent people will avoid you.

5. Get rid of the  false victory of Detente.  It is the French who coined the term détente, the worst counterfeit for victory in all of history.  Détente means “loosened crossbow strings.”  It is the polar opposite of Teddy Roosevelt’s advice to “speak softly and carry a big stick.”  Ancient Israel doubled the number of wars she had to face because of détente.  Each time that Israel settled for an alliance instead of victory she invited terror in her midst. Détente in the life of a believer means peaceful coexistence with Satan.  This is seen in teachings that diminish, ignore or deny the existence of the devil.  Détente means that you quarantine sin and destructive habits instead of abandoning them.  Détente is a nervous pact with darkness that permits you to appear spiritual while still in its pocket.  This subtle covenant with the enemy rears its ugly head anytime that its victim attempts to make real progress as a Christian. Détente believes you can serve two masters, but in all such amalgamations evil takes the upper hand.  The prisoner of détente will never progress until they declare war on Satan and possess the hatred for all things evil that is in the heart of God. Total victory is taking ground from enemy and never giving it back.