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How Mary Met Jesus

Perhaps brother Lazarus or sister Martha had arranged the contact. Never had she met a man remotely like Him. Artists and novelists through the ages have run wild imagining a sexual attraction between Mary and Jesus, but the Bible doesn’t hint of such.

Jesus knew Himself to be the Son of God, but He was also the Son of man, totally human, “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). His humanity was constantly on display. But there has never been a woman on Planet Earth so beautiful and charming that she could aspire to become the bride of the incarnate Son of God. He was already “in love,” “engaged” if you please, with what the Bible speaks of as some other “woman,” His pure church-to-be. His nuptial love was already directed there. The church in a corporate sense will eventually be “the Lamb’s wife” for whom He has had to wait long until she will “make herself ready.”

Meanwhile, in His incarnation, no woman could take her place. No lesser love could have appealed to Jesus! Those who write these novels and movies don’t understand the character of Jesus, or the nature of true love. When you’re already in love, no other person can intrude (which is why adultery is impossible for anyone who is in love!). The Son of God has always loved His spouse-to-be.

In His incarnation, Jesus had too much true love in His heart known as agape ever to have given any woman the slightest encouragement ;to think of Him romantically—tempted although the Bible says He may have been. It was terrible enough for Him to let His innocent mother watch Him be crucified; how could He have let any other woman be so tortured, even if we allow Him all the humanity which He possessed?

Scripture singles out Mary His mother as the only woman of history whose soul had to be “pierced through by a sword” as old Simeon told her in the Temple (Luke 2:34, 35; the Greek says it was to be “romphaia,” the great sword of Goliath). Jesus would spare any other woman from sharing His own mother’s soul torture!

But Jesus loved Mary Magdalene, that’s for sure, the same as He loved any other human soul. It was with an unselfish, pure, self-sacrificing love. Having been “made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7) and as alone “He knew what was in man” (John 2:25), He understood Mary as no other human being ever had. He understood the labyrinthine complexities of her female human nature, in particular the abused nature of her soul. Himself man’s Creator and Redeemer, He knew as no other man how she felt toward men.

In even such a casual contact Jesus would convey in some way to each human soul He met a sense of self-sacrificing agape love. If that soul would open the heart to “behold” it, a certain measure of reciprocity would immediately be initiated. The recognition would at first be beyond words, for “deep calleth unto deep” when one’s “soul is cast down,” as was hers.1 It was not an instinctive response on her part, but one far deeper than that, for Jesus said,“My sheep hear My voice, … and they follow Me” (John 10:27). Mary heard the Voice, however faint its echo may have been in her darkened and deafened soul. We read that “agape never faileth.” Evidently, even in demon possessed souls that are honest, the capacity to sense agape also “never faileth.”

In the hidden stratum of her consciousness, Mary began to sense the divine implications of an unearthly love that drove Him at last to His cross. That was what won her soul. There was recognition there, on her part, if only a millivolt in strength. It had seemed to her an utter impossibility that there could be any man on earth who could love with purity, ;that is, genuinely. But this One did. The last spark of soul that lingered alive in her heart was awakened. She wanted what He had, something infinitely beyond sex or human companionship.

A lesson from Jesus’ prayers.

If ever you are tempted to wonder why you must pray and pray again, and then pray again, for someone’s conversion (or even for your own!), take heart from this story of Mary Magdalene. Even Jesus, the divine Son of God,“the Savior of the world,” had to pray “seven times” before Mary was delivered. Her case was a difficult one (and so is every lost soul’s, including yours and mine).

Nothing in the Bible story suggests that this prayer season was on one occasion only. A wise writer tells us that “seven times she had heard His rebuke of the demons that controlled her heart and mind.”2 Demons don’t give up easily, especially sexual ones. Whatever the nature of her lust, Mary found only temporary relief with the expulsion of the first demon; but her confidence was initiated. She began to see some hope. Little flowers as at springtime after a hard winter began to blossom in her mind and heart. Yes, she could become a woman of self-respect again!

But then when temptation assailed her, she fell. And nothing hurts so badly as to fall after you think you have been delivered. In her renewed despair, Mary could have offered the Psalmist’s prayer, “Thou hast lifted me up and, and cast me down” (Psalm 102:10). But Jesus prayed for her again, and again she was delivered. A second demon cast out!

It’s hard to imagine unless you have yourself been through battles with addiction, that this went on seven times! You can just hear Judas Iscariot and the disciples telling Jesus that this woman is hopelessly gone. “You can’t save everybody, she’s had it! You’re making a fool of Yourself to pray for her again!” But a seventh time He prayed for this lost soul.

We are not wise enough to know who that seventh devil was that was finally cast out. But from limited pastoral experience, one would suggest that very likely it was the bitter resentment that Mary had harbored all these years against the man who had ruined her life, against the one who ;had trampled on her soul and selfishly climbed up his career over the wreckage of her life.

But when she could bring herself to forgive him, … to repent in a corporate sense in his behalf, to realize that as a member of the human race she too had “sinned and come short of the glory of God,” and when she could sense that she had no righteousness of her own but it was all 100% imputed from Christ, then a new light had began to dawn on her. Nothing could have been possible unless she could have come to sense that his sin would have been her sin but for the grace of a Savior. Then she discovered how the impossible task before her had become possible: she forgave him.

Now at last she was free!

The seventh and last devil was gone. Now she was singing, “[My] soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and [I am] escaped” (Psalm 124:7, 8). There was no thought of performing an act of penance. That little millivolt of sensing agape had developed into a lightning surge of heart appreciation for it. She had escaped from hell itself. Like Christian and Hopeful escaping from Giant Despair’s dark dungeon when they looked with tears on the bodies of others just as worthy who had perished there in unbelief, she knew only tears of humble but grateful contrition.

Her conversion was not a program of works. All she did was to appreciate what she saw in Jesus. Her faith was proven to be genuine because it immediately went to work, as we shall see.

 

Read Chapter 3: How Can Mary Say “Thank You”?

Notes:

  1. Psalm 42:7.
  2. Ellen G.White, The Desire of Ages, p. 568.
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