The day she first sighted the popular Nazarene, her dark soul might have wished for his patronage. Seductive, passionate and witty, her natural charisma was supernaturally aided by seven demons by whom she ensnared men of weak character. However, her first direct encounter with him was her Total turnaround from the life she had known for one of radical discipleship in the school of the greatest teacher of all times, Jesus of Nazareth. If the assumption of many bible scholars were right, then she was the woman caught in the very act of adultery after what must have been an easy setup of a woman of easy virtue. Condemned by the Law of Moses as we all were, the Grace of Jesus Christ stepped in with mercy and liberated her undeserving soul from judgment (John 8.1-11).
The instant change was dramatic, even skeptics knew there had been a transformation and her personal gratitude to her Lord was boundless. What the Law could not do, the grace of God had accomplished. The commandments, ordinances, and rituals of the Old Testament combined with a plethora of traditions and norms had saddled her with burdens beyond her capacity to carry.
Her love for him after her independence was immense, immeasurable and irrepressible. She followed hard after him, traveled on his team alongside other women and his male disciples, financially supported Him without reservation, and worshipped him with her very best, hence earning the accolade of being ‘the woman with the alabaster box’. Such a box contained costly oil that was worth a year’s salary.
How she would take something of such massive value and pour it on the feet of Jesus Christ in worship was in the least unreasonable and at best preposterous in the eyes of Judas Iscariot whose greed had obscured his ability to discern the worth of His master. ‘He who is forgiven much loves much’ was the explanation Jesus gave(Luke 7.47). When we taste of the goodness of God through His mercy and grace, our hearts are transformed to become merciful and gracious like Him. We begin to love the Lord passionately, worshipping Him selflessly, giving generously.
Rather than striving in self-effort to please the Lord, our hearts influenced by the grace of Jesus Christ serve God and man sacrificially in love. The story of Mary makes me question the authenticity of the encounters of others with the Lord Jesus at times. How did Judas end up with so much wickedness in his soul? How come many proponents of the ‘Gospel of Grace’ are full of insults, slander, condemnation, and judgment? I thought the more the Grace of God is revealed to us, the more gracious we ought to be. How come we hate one another and put down one another so much? I understand some have gone astray but we must be gracious like our Lord except where they are leading people completely away from Christ.
How come Christian husbands cannot tolerate wives and wives cannot tolerate husbands? Why are we heading for the divorce courts in droves and yet profess the Christ that was born 2000 years ago? If Christ were husband to my wife, will she be so depressed and so in despair as to run away from my home? If Christ were a wife, would her husband be so frustrated that he will be able to send her away? I am provoking us to spend this Christmas asking for a fresh encounter with the Christ that Mary Magdalene met. The forgiving, merciful, gracious, liberating life transformer that Mary fell in love with over and over again. The objective of all revelation is transformed into the very image of our Lord Himself(2 Corinthians 3.18).
When Jesus rose from the dead, it was women who first noticed, including this Mary, and informed the men. Peter, another soul that loves Jesus was quick to make a run for the tomb. The younger John, ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ sprinted faster and overtook him on the way but as they got to the tomb, their love for the master was demonstrated as they entered hesitantly and examined the empty tomb, eventually leaving with disappointment that they could not see him. After they left, Mary Magdalene stayed back a while, seeking and searching still with her soul, when there was nothing more for her eyes to see. It was then she saw the vision of two angels by the tomb who asked why she was weeping and she replied ‘They have taken away my Lord and I know not where they have laid him(John 20.13). They then informed her that the Lord rose. Then a voice called to her that she eventually recognized. As she ran towards her Rabbi, he instructed her ‘don’t touch me, I am going to my father and your father….Apparently, with her love, she had interrupted his journey to heaven to present the blood of His sacrifice before God the Father to mediate the new covenant.
Kathryn Kuhlman was reported in her autobiography written by Jamie Buckhingham as having repeated Mary’s words after a ‘Miracle Service’ she attended. The Healing evangelist who hosted the meeting had preached in a dramatic way, challenged the people to believe in Miracles but not much happened and then he turned on the crowd in anger and desperation, accusing them of lack of faith. As he disparaged them with condescending words, Kathryn could not hold back the tears as she exclaimed ‘They have taken away my Lord and I know not where they have laid Him. She knew if it was Jesus, He would heal the people and if it was Jesus, He would not condemn.
The Lord would have encouraged, comforted, and showed love, kindness, and meekness towards the weak in faith, not to put them down. As we celebrate the birth of our Lord this season, let us ask for fresh encounters with Him that will lead to renewed love for the master and consequently for His church and the world at large. This season should be one of love, forgiveness and kindness towards one another. These beautiful fruits should be carried into our everyday lives always. I conclude this article with the testimony of a dear friend who after a fresh revelation of the Lord Jesus and His Grace in recent years called his family to apologize for years of the legalistic rule instead of loving leadership.
His wife and children opened up to him about their emotional pains including his first son who was planning to disconnect from him once matured enough to leave home. They all forgave him and I bear witness to the renewed bond of love in his family. He has such a sweet bond with his wife and his connection with his children has never been so strong. The fruit of his encounter with Christ Jesus is a transformed heart, compelled today by the love of Christ. A real Knowledge of Jesus Christ will lead to a life of supernatural love. I wish you a merry Christmas in advance.