Part 1: Through the Darkness
I do not like to re-visit the dark places of my life....the dark places before I met Jesus. But for you I will, for the opportunity for you to see the miracles of change, growth, and repentance that can come through an encounter with Jesus. In some ways, it seems like those experiences happened to another person in another time, but when I allow myself to fully remember I know they are my experiences, my struggles, and my story...the story of me, Mary Magdalene.
Have you ever heard a voice in your head urging you to do something? Not the voice of the Holy Spirit guiding you; Not the voice of your conscience; Not the voice of a friend’s advice…But, the haunting voice of a stranger urging you to do something evil or to say something hurtful. A voice of evil, of death, of fire. I have…it was the voice of the demons, seven exactly.
I suppose you have aspects of darkness in your past also...The time you told a lie that hurt a friend. The time you broke the law. The time you rejected God. The time you cheated on your spouse. The time you spoke hurtful words in anger. The time you allowed a wrong to happen. We all have dark places in our past from which we wish we could hide.
On one such dark day, I met Jesus. He changed my life. Because of meeting Jesus my actions and my desires were changed. The way I was living my life changed. My purpose was different. Jesus ordered those seven demons out of me and changed my life forever! Jesus healed my hurting spirit and heart! Jesus showed me who he was! After that moment, I had to make a change. I chose Jesus. I chose to travel with Jesus and the disciples....to hear his teachings, to witness his miraculous healings, to experience how he cared for those in need. I supported Jesus’ ministry with my own money.
The same can be true for you. If you truly encounter the grace and peace of Jesus you will be changed. If the powerful message of love and redemption found in the life Christ led resonates in your heart and mind you will be changed. You can experience the same grace that Jesus offered me. Scripture allows you to experience the life and ministry of Jesus through His words.
Leave your demons and take hold of the hand stretched out before you....the hand of Jesus. I did it – So, can YOU. I must go now...We are getting ready to leave. I think we are beginning our travels to Jerusalem today in preparation for the Passover. I will share more soon…
Part 2: The Cross
I doubt in all of human history one week of time could present a greater dichotomy of joy and exuberance to pain and despair as the week I have just lived through....
It doesn't seem possible that a few short days ago Jesus entered Jerusalem on a young colt to cheers and chants. People were everywhere...they were lining the streets, hanging out of windows, peering down from the city walls. And oh the praises that were chanted as we began the descent down the Mount of Olives..."Blessed is the King who comes in the name of The Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" The cheers seemed to echo for miles.
Jesus spent his days that week similar to days of the recent past. He taught in the temple. He challenged the religious leaders to see the truth of the Messiah that stood in front of their eyes! He taught the crowds through parables, addressed rightful living, and taught of his future resurrection. And he did not fall in to the verbal traps the religious leaders tried to lay for him. He prayed and worshiped and fellowshipped! He celebrated the Passover.
Then in that quiet hour as Jesus prayed in the garden Judas came and gave the kiss of betrayal. The chief priests, the elders, and the temple officers arrested Jesus. The trials began...to Annas, to Caiphas, to the Sanhedrin Council, to Pilate, to Herod, and back to Pilate.
The verdict was guilty...death on the cross. The ultimate punishment for Jesus, who did nothing but live a life of purity, service, and ministry. He was beaten. He was humiliated. He was mocked. He was forced to wear a crown of thorns. He carried his cross up the hill. Jesus was nailed to that cross. He died.
Death...the punishment I deserve for my sins. The punishment you deserve for your sins. Not the punishment deserved by Jesus, but the one he purposefully accepted because of his great love for you and for me. Because of the grace found at the cross...
I just came from that hill where I stood under the cross of Jesus with his mother, Mary. I saw the bruised and beaten body of my Savior breathe his last breath. I saw Jesus offer grace and forgiveness in his final moments of life...
I have no more words this night...
Part 3: It Is Finished
It's been three days since my Jesus died on the cross. Three days of tears and hurting hearts. Mary, Jesus's mother, and I have been finding comfort in remembering the many teachings and miracles of Jesus and discussing how both of our lives were radically changed and blessed because of our relationship with Him.
This morning I am preparing to go to the tomb. Joseph of Arimathea bravely petitioned Pilate for the body of my Jesus. Pilate complied and Joseph placed him in a new tomb recently dug from a hillside in the garden near the crosses.
Walking along the path to the tomb on this morning was a very somber experience....But, wait. Something was not right! The large stone sealing the tomb was rolled away...the tomb was open and empty! I ran as fast as I could back to Simon Peter and John. I said "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and I do not know where they have laid him.” John and Simon Peter came back to the tomb with me. As they entered, they saw the burial linens laying there with the face-cloth neatly folded. Then the disciples left and I just started to cry.
As I knelt there on that cold, hard ground I looked in to the tomb. Wait! Two angels looked back at me...I staggered back and they asked me, "Woman, why are you weeping?" I was so confused. I noticed a gardener standing nearby...I turned and whispered "Where have they taken my Lord?" Haven't they done enough? Can't they just leave us alone? Does anyone know what is happening?
Suddenly the man I believed to be the gardener says one word...my name. At the sound of "Mary" I know...it is not the gardener standing in my midst but my precious Jesus. At the sound of his voice, when Christ called out my name, the understanding began to dawn. He was alive, truly alive. Death and the tomb could not hold him! He is alive and his grace is real. It is enough! I pray it is enough for you, today...please let it!