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Despair, Devotion and Delight

Mary’s eyes were wild as she backed up against the stone wall. Her hands felt the cold, damp building as she scratched the stone to go back further. Her hands were bloody from the incessant clawing. Her moaning was thick and slurred as she cried out fearfully. The voices were there again. She couldn’t see them, but she could hear them, as if they were right in front of her. She brought her right arm up with a swing at the air, just hoping to make enough contact so that “they” wouldn’t kill her. Her mouth was raw and covered with sores from the constant drooling, her hair was filthy and in knots. She continued to lash out incoherently because she had to make them leave her. Why wouldn’t they leave her alone?

The crowd walked by Mary, some hardly even noticing her. Others, probably visitors to Magdala, stopped and stared at this strange sight. A woman was moaning and fighting the air around her. Clearly she was out of her mind.

“Whose that,” the little girl asked her aunt.

“Oh, that’s just Mary, she’s been like that for years. I don’t know what she’s running from, but she’s been running since I’ve known of her,” she replied.

“That’s so sad, and scary,” the girl cried.

“That’s what happens when you sin. Remember that!”

They continued walking and Mary persisted with her constant battle with the voices.

A week later a group of men entered Magdala. Their leader stood out as they walked into the town. He looked strong but also gentle. His gentleness couldn’t be mistaken for meekness though, for His words were bold and powerful.

The crowds gathered around this man they called Jesus and teacher. He spoke of love and forgiveness.

“I hear he let a woman go who had been accused of adultery,” one man said. “Can you imagine that? Not one person threw a stone because this guy said anyone without sin could throw the first stone. She just walked away, no punishment!”

“I heard he was seen talking to an unmarried woman alone,” another man said.

The group of men just shook their heads. Who was he and why were people clamoring to see him.

Jesus was speaking when Mary ran across the street still moaning in fear. The crowd hushed as she continued her never-ending run from . . . whatever it was she was running from.

Jesus immediately took notice and walked up to her. As he got closer she screamed even louder.

“Stop, no, no, stop,” she shrieked as she fell to the ground and covered her head.

The crowd gasped, nearly in unison. They had never been able to understand her words before.

Jesus quietly bent down with her, laid his hand on her shoulder and spoke softly to her. No one could hear what He said, but they noticed she wasn’t moaning anymore. There was complete silence as He stood up and offered Mary his hand. She took it and let him pull her up. When the people saw her face they were astonished to see a smile!

“Thank you teacher,” Mary said softly.

Jesus went back to teaching and Mary walked away. When she returned her hair was brushed, her face was clean and she had a spring to her step that showed her newfound joy. She quietly got in the crowd and listened as Jesus finished his teachings.

“Teacher, I would be honored to have you and your friends stay at my family’s home,” she said.

The men went to her home and were surprised out how well kept it was.

“How long have you lived here,” Andrew asked.

“I haven’t lived here for the past 5 years. My family did. I have been in the streets fighting those unseen demons in my head,” she said with a smile. “It’s good to be back.”

Mary made them a supper and gave them some pillows so they could rest.

The next morning she went with them as they set out to the next town, ready to share the words of Jesus with anyone who would listen. Mary came prepared. She knew they would need money to offer this ministry to so many people.

Three years later Mary was still following the teacher, Jesus. Today, she is with His sweet mother, watching him on the cross. Her heart was breaking as his mother quietly sobbed beside her. John stood there as well, stoic as he watched the scene unfold.

The men around Jesus were still hurling insults and laughing. All she felt was utter despair. How could this be happening? Couldn’t they see his pain? Didn’t they care that they were killing the one who was sent to save Israel?

The hours ticked by as Mary remembered the days of travel, the nights of dinners and private stories with Jesus. She was proud to be one of the women who were able to support the ministry of Jesus and keep it going. He had become her dear friend, someone she trusted with her life.

Her thoughts were interrupted as Jesus cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus’ mother fell to her knees. Mary grabbed her as the earth began to shake. The people in the crowd were frightened as they ran in all directions. But Mary just stood there, strangely calm, as she watched the world in chaos.

Mary followed the men as they took Jesus body. There was a wealthy man asking to take the body, so Mary just followed him simply because she didn’t know what else to do.

He was unaware of her watching as he carefully lowered Jesus body to the table. As this man walked away, two guards rolled a large stone in front of the tomb, leaving Mary to wonder why they did it.

Mary and the other women who had followed Jesus, spent the Sabbath grief stricken. Part of her couldn’t believe he was really gone. But she had seen him die and put in that tomb with her own eyes.

The women spoke quietly about the things they had seen with Jesus. This wasn’t the way they expected it would go and they were feeling out of place. What would they do next? They had given up everything for this ministry that was now gone.

The next morning Mary and her friend, Mary the mother of James and Salome, had their spices and linens and were heading to the tomb. They were weary and discouraged but they wanted to do this one last act of kindness for their friend, their teacher. Mary's devotion would settle for nothing less.

As they got closer to the tomb, Mary noticed that the stone was no longer in the doorway. Her friend stopped, unable to enter, fearful of who might be inside. Mary dropped her basket as she walked faster and faster to get inside the tomb.

There were two men just outside the tomb asking why she was crying. She told them about Jesus and they happily told Mary, “He is risen, He is not here.”

Mary decided to go into the tomb anyway. She found the gardener there and asked if he had seen Jesus.

The man turned and said her name.

When he turned, she saw that it was Jesus! She stepped forward and fell at his feet, crying and clinging to Him. He helped her up and told her to go his brothers and share the news that he had risen.

Mary ran out of the tomb, laughing with pure joy as she went to find the disciples. She was rejoicing with song as she ran to share this news. Her delight at finding Jesus alive was overflowing from her soul. Her friend and teacher was alive! And if He was alive, He really was the Son of God, the One who would save the world.

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