Mary Magdalene

Storytellers: Mary Magdalene

Opening Illustration:
I was reading the other day from the online magazine  A story caught my eye.  It was entitled Report: ISIS Fighter Who 'Enjoyed' Killing Christians Wants to Follow Jesus After Dreaming of Man in White Who Told Him 'You Are Killing My People’.  I found the article completely compelling.  It told the story of an unnamed ISIS fighter.  This man was deeply devoted to the ISIS cause.  He was a self admitted violent killer and devout Muslim.  As an ISIS fighter, this man not only oversaw the killing of hundreds of Christians but he himself killed believers.  Not only did he kill Christians with brutality, he killed them gleefully and creatively.  He prided himself on the number of ways that he could torture and murder the people who professed Jesus.  

That is until he began to go to sleep and he began to have visions of a man in white.  This man in white began to visit him nightly in his dreams and ask him “why”, “why are you killing my people”, “why are you killing my followers”.  The nightly occurrences began to weaken the resolve of this militant ISIS killer.  

One day, he had lined up a group of Christians to be beheaded.  As he prepared his blades for their necks, a Christian man offered him his Bible.  This ISIS fighter took the Bible but still killed the man.  He took the Bible home with him and secretly began to read it.  He discovered the story of Saul on the road to Damascus and realized that the same man, the man in white, had visited him.  That night, as he slept, the ISIS fighter was visited again by the man in white.  This time, he did not ask why he was killing his followers, now he was calling this murdering ISIS fighter to follow him.  The ISIS man woke up, got on his needs, confessed his sin and ask Jesus to save him.  

Jesus did save him.  

Today, this man is actively leading his former Muslim and ISIS brothers to Jesus Christ.  You don’t hear about it in the media, but hundreds of ISIS members are breaking ranks because of  this man and the witness that the Christian martyrs are producing.  His is the story of Saul becoming Paul, a man converted and called to lead others to Christ.  

So, who is the real hero here?  Is it this ISIS fighter?  Nope.  The real hero is Jesus.  Jesus called this man from a violent and wicked world to save the souls of hundreds.  The real hero is the man who faced beheading with courage and gave his killer his Bible boldly.  Now that is telling your story.  

Your Story Should Be Shared Bluntly, Boldly and Blissfully

Background of the Text:
Jesus was dead.  Very dead.  3 days His body lay dormant in the ground.  His followers had either scattered or where in hiding.  The women who loved Him still weeping at His loss.  Because of Sabbath restrictions, Jesus’ body was quickly prepared for burial not having received all the proper treatments.  So, the women, of which Mary Magdalene was one went to the tomb on that Sunday to finish the treatments of Jesus’ corpse.  

Only, Jesus was dead.  He was alive.  Very alive.  

It was this information that she witnessed with her own eyes, it was the testimony of the angels and Jesus Himself that convinces her that life would never be the same.  Jesus, teacher in life, is now Lord in resurrection.  

Although Mary would have rather stayed with Jesus, Jesus commands her to go, tell the story of His appearance to the disciples.  

This is Mary’s story!

John 20:11-18
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

Listen To Mary’s Story of Grief to Gladness!

I. Jesus Connects To Mary Passionately vs. 13 (Compassionately)
John 20:13 ESV
They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 

We could all use a bit more compassion couldn’t we.  My goodness, there is so much arguing.  So much divisive behavior.  From Washington to our backyard, it is everywhere.  

Well, I heard a story the other day about some pretty non-compassionate Christians.  

In the late 1800s there were just two deacons in a small Baptist church in Mayfield County, Kentucky. These two deacons hated each other and always opposed one another. On a particular Sunday, one deacon put up a small wooden peg in the back wall so the minister could hang up his hat. When the other deacon discovered the peg, he was outraged that he had not been consulted. The church took sides, and the church eventually split. To this day, the story goes, you can find in Mayfield County, Kentucky, the Anti-peg Baptist Church.

Surly this is not the Jesus way.  Here we have Mary.  Mary certainly had a past.  Many scholars believe that Mary Magdalene was the adulterous woman who was brought out to Jesus to be stoned.  Remember the story.  Jesus questioned the crowd.  “He who is without sin, cast the first stone”.  Theologians believe that this woman left her life of sin and became a follower of Jesus.  Jesus not only saved her physical life, He gave her purpose and hope.  

Now Jesus was dead and Mary was heartbroken.  

The Greek word for weeping is much more descriptive than what we see here in English.  Mary’s grief was inconsolable.  She was weeping aloud.  The word actually means expressing uncontainable, audible grief. 

How many of us have been there before. We are in such pain that it feels that our hearts are being stabbed by a hot knife.  Our minds, our souls, and our physical bodies are totally and completely consumed with grief. It is all we can think about.  We are surrounded by the loss of a loved one and our hearts hurt so badly that thoughts of death seem comforting.  

That is the type of grief Mary was experiencing.  Without Jesus, her life was meaningless.  Perhaps she would have to go back to her old way, her old life, her sinful past.  

Trust me, if you were Mary, you would cry too.

Then something happens.  Mary hears the words,”Woman, why are you weeping?”  This is of course Jesus.  Jesus, the resurrected King, stops long enough to ask Mary about her troubles.  Why?  Jesus clearly had things to do, bigger fish to fry as it was.  Why did He stop? 

Simple answer…Jesus cares.  He cares about us.  He cares about our deepest needs, our deepest longings, our hurt and our pain.  He cares.  

Quote: Rick Warren
One of my favorite pastors is Rick Warren.  Listen to what he says about Jesus caring for us.

You may think, "Nobody knows what I'm going through, nobody feels the pain I'm experiencing."
But God knows!

He knows your feelings and frustrations.  He's seen the crisis in your soul. There's no hurt that goes unnoticed by God. Psalm 56:6 says, "You know how troubled I am; you have kept a record of my tears." (Good News)

Often when we're hurting, we feel very isolated and lonely. Maybe there's been a death in the family, a divorce, maybe we've gotten fired, and we start to think, "Nobody understands the way I feel; nobody can tell the way I feel; nobody feels the pain."

But God knows, and "The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him." (Psalms 103:13, NLT)

God not only sees, He cares!

He knows the causes, the reasons, the things that brought you to this point. He understands because he made you, and he sees the hurt in your heart like nobody else can.

Because God knows our frustrations and despair, we can give those feelings to God: "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you." (1 Peter 5:7, NLT) Cast them all permanently on God, once and for all, and then, don't take them back.

Psalm 147:3 ESV
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Listen To Mary’s Story of Grief to Gladness!

I. Jesus Connects To Mary Passionately vs. 13 (Compassionately)
II. Jesus Calls Mary Personally vs. 16
John 20:16 ESV
Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

So, there’s Mary, full of hurt and disappointment and BOOM, out of nowhere she hears her name!  MARY! Now the temptation is to think that this is no big deal.  Jesus just said her name.  Let me remind you that this is not just Jesus, this is the resurrected Jesus.  This is the Jesus that has just defeated death.  This is the Jesus who has set captives free, kicked down the doors of hell, taken the keys of death from Satan and now is preparing to ascend to the throne of heaven.  

This is Jesus.  Jesus is the WORD.  It is through His WORD that all things were created.  It was through His WORD that all things hold together.  It was His WORD that called Lazarus from the tomb.  It was His WORD that commanded the little dead girl to rise.  It was His WORD that blessed the little boy’s lunch and fed the thousands.  Trust me, when Jesus speaks His WORD, it is a big deal.  

It was on this day that Jesus said, “MARY”!

Imagine that was you and Jesus said your name.  Imagine that it was Jesus that called you out of the darkness.  Imagine that it was Jesus that shouted your name and in doing so, your heart and soul was brought from death to life.  

Friends, Jesus calls us.  He knows our names.  He is aware of us and wants to be intimate with us.  You may think you are lost in this world, but Jesus is calling your name today.  Can you hear it?  Can you hear your name? 

John 10:14 ESV
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me…

Listen To Mary’s Story of Grief to Gladness!

I. Jesus Connects To Mary Passionately vs. 13 (Compassionately)
II. Jesus Calls Mary Personally vs. 16
III. Jesus Commands Mary Powerfully vs.17
John 20:17 ESV
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers…

I love the story about the Sunday School teacher who was trying to teach the Ten Commandments to her young students. She thought it would be most helpful if she used some concrete illustrations. "Early one Saturday morning Johnny's parents were going shopping," she read to them. "They asked Johnny to wash the dishes while they were gone. When they returned, however, Johnny was watching cartoons and the dishes still were unwashed." In one accord the class responded, "Honor thy Father and Mother!"

"Good," said the teacher. "Ann went shopping with her mother but when no one was looking, she slipped a candy bar into her pocket." Again, the class was quick: "Thou shalt not steal!"

"Great," said the teacher. "Andy was a cruel little boy and had a bad temper. He got angry with his little sister one day and, grabbing her pet kitten, he threatened to pull its tail off." Now this was a much tougher example. Everyone was real quiet for a moment but then one little fellow brightened up and shouted, "What God hath joined together let no man put asunder!"

It can be easy to miss Jesus’ commands can’t it?  So Jesus connect to Mary’s pain.  He calls her personally.  His Word brings life to her dead soul.  Now, He has work for her.  Time to get moving Mary.  

Mary, you can’t just sit here with me, you’ve got to get moving.  There are lives to be saved.  Sitting her at my feet is all good, but no one is hearing the word.  One can make a pretty solid case that Mary was the very first New Testament evangelist.  One might say that she was the very first New Testament storyteller.  

Isn’t that true of us?  Understand that I spent four years at Samford University earning a Religion Degree.  I spent another 3 years at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary earning a Masters Degree.  That apparently was not enough.  I spent another 6 years earning a doctoral degree from the same seminary.  All in all, I have 13 years of Christian education not to mention all the hours spent reading the Bible, writing sermons, teaching classes, and sitting listening to sermons.  

You may not have the same degrees that I do, but all of us like to sit at the feet of Jesus.  We love to be in His presence.  There is nothing wrong with that.  The only thing that makes all this education wrong is when we do not put it to practical use.  We have take what we have found out about Jesus deliver the news to the people.  

“Mary, I know you would like to stay with me like the good ole days, but its time to change the world, and it starts with you telling the disciples.”

By the way, Mary’s call is our call.  We know about Jesus but now it is time to give Jesus away.   

2 John 1:6 ESV
And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.

Listen To Mary’s Story of Grief to Gladness!

I. Jesus Connects To Mary Passionately vs. 13 (Compassionately)
II. Jesus Calls Mary Personally vs. 16
III. Jesus Commands Mary Powerfully vs.17
IV. Mary Complies To Jesus Purposefully vs. 18
John 20:18
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”…

So, Mary went! The Greek word for “announced” is ἀναγγέλλω or anaggelló and is pronounced an-ang-el'-lo.  It is where we discover our word for Angel.  Is means announcement, report, and make known.  After all, that is one of the jobs of the angels.  To tell people about the Lord.  It also means proclaim.  

Mary, in that moment dedicated herself to the message.  She left a transformed woman on a mission.  Again, notice that Jesus did not give her the Matthew 28 Great Commission.  Nope, He told her to go to her closest friends, the disciples.  

I have seen the Lord!

Matthew 9:37-38 ESV
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

To close the service today, I want to play you a song.  It is called “I Have Seen The Lord”. It is all about Mary telling her story.  I hope it inspires you to tell yours.  

Tell Your Story Today!


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