“He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.” Mark 16:9.
First to Mary!
Artists and poets alike have been captivated by the Magdalene – whom they have painted and described as a beautiful and voluptuous enchantress.
Many have written of her sinful past – and so spoken of her immorality – that we now find there has passed into our language a word to describe an adulteress: A Magdalene.
It has been said that the woman in Luke’s Gospel “who was a sinner” was Mary Magdalene.
There is no foundation for any of this teaching – yet it has stuck, as mud will stick!
But we do know that out of her “He had cast seven devils.” Apart from that, we are told only five things:
- She was one of the Galilean women, including Mary and Salome, who “ministered to Him of their substance.”
- She was at the cross and saw Him put into the garden grave.
- She came to the sepulchre, heard the angel’s message, went and told John and came back to the grave.
- Standing outside the tomb she saw the Lord, heard His voice, and clasped His feet[i].
- Returned to the little company and is not mentioned ever again…
That is all!
Mark lays emphasis on two of these facts:-
“He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.”
What a morning that was…
Sorrow always wakes early. Their loving hearts were impatient to bring their tributes. Morning had not broken, darkness was in the silent streets as three women left their lodgings to enter Joseph’s garden. Reaching the rock-hewn tomb, the sun was just rising over Olivet.
“Looking up,[ii]” they saw the stone rolled away, and Mary fled to tell John.
To tell him what?
Of a resurrection? No! Only of an empty tomb!
“They have taken away my Lord and I know not where they have laid Him.”
“Supposing him to be the gardener, she saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.” John 20:15.
“Jesus saith unto her, MARY. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, MASTER.” John 20:16.
Think of what the Resurrection is:
The pivot of the centuries…
…The most stupendous fact in history…
…The most staggering event from Old Eternity.
Who would God allow to witness first this wonder that makes creation itself insignificant?
What mind shall first have the privilege of knowing?
Whose eyes will the Lord first dazzle with His risen splendour?
Am I uttering the truth when I repeat: “He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.”?
“FIRST TO MARY!” I am uttering the sober truth.
The first to see the risen Lord was this poor sin-stained woman. O let us bow at the feet of divine GRACE!
- Notice the Depths to Which a Soul Can Sink.
Unless you charge Jesus Christ of upholding the grimmest superstition held by men – devil-possession is a fact…
Unless you can believe Jesus was capable of making mistakes – devil-possession is the condition in which Mary had been living.
This is the state of existence in which some folk lived – a condition so frightful, that onlookers were terrified.
In all ways Jesus confirmed the truth of demonism.
a). He said: “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils…” Matthew 10:8.
An ever descending scale! As though to be devil-ridden were worse than death.
b). He not only speaks about demons, He spoke TO them. Holds conversations with them. Charges them to hold their peace.
c). In the Bible men were dominated by evil. Held by an alien power.
d). There was a strange double-consciousness: “We are many!” “My name is Legion.”
e). A power – aye a personality – which like a worm or parasite had rooted itself within the poor wretch, and there lived upon his life and blood – But the difference being that the devils lived in the spirit and dominated the whole man.
Once in some Galilean village there had played a little girl – she had bloomed to womanhood –
And suddenly the havoc! The distorted face! The blasphemous thoughts!
Into the abyss – seven devils! The numerical sign for completeness.
What devilry exists in men today?
What lies? What hypocrisy?
- What Power in Christ Resides
We know nothing of the circumstances of how she met Jesus. Like Eve with whom the serpent was so intertwined, this woman needed help.
“I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people.” Psalms 89:19.
Let us learn:-
- None is so bad as to be excluded from the purpose of His death.
- None has wandered so far as to be out of HIS sight.
iii. The sacrifice is sufficient even for scarlet sins.
- SHE became “one of the women who ministered to Him.”
SHE was the first to experience the beatific vision. “First to Mary.”
- A Forgiven Past Can Be A Present Blessing
Mary always tried to be beside Him
The cure was complete – BUT there was a fear, as in the man who prayed “that he might be with Him.” Mark 5:18.
- Conscious of weakness, she longed for His security. “Temptations lose their power when thou art nigh.”
- Deep love – made His presence a joy unspeakable.
iii. Gratitude – made her long to seize the opportunities to serve Him.
Sinners forgiven lead the anthem yonder.
Next to the very throne stands one out of whom He cast seven devils!
[i] See Matthew 28:9.
[ii] Mark 16:4 RV.