And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance. (Luke 8:1-3)
Our Lord’s followers have always been a fickle bunch. During the course of His earthly ministry, He was followed by vast crowds, John 6:10, and at other times, He was followed by just a faithful few, John 6:66. But, as the course of Christ’s ministry became clear, even His own disciples were guilty of running away from Him when the pressure became too great. We are told that on the night He was arrested, “…they all forsook Him, and fled.” Mark 14:50.
After Jesus is arrested, only two of His disciples followed Him to the home of the High Priest. They were John and Peter. Peter, we are told, followed Him “afar off”, Matt. 26:58. Peter would be the one who also denied Jesus that very night. By the time Jesus arrives at Calvary to be crucified, only one of His disciples, John, is still with Him, John 19:26.
After Jesus dies on the cross, His body is removed and is taken to the tomb of a man by the name of Joseph of Arimathaea, John 19:38-42. As darkness falls on that dark, dark day, all of the Lord’s disciples are hiding from fear of the Jews. By the time Jesus had died on the cross, and was buried in the tomb, not a single one of the men He had called was with Him.
Even though the number of the Lord’s followers fluctuated from thousands to a handful, there was one group that seemed to always be with Him. Our passage mentions a dedicated group of women that followed the ministry of the Lord Jesus. These women offered Him financial support and absolute devotion. In fact, one of these women, Mary Magdalene, seemed to have followed Him everywhere. She was with Him during His ministry. She also wept at His feet as He died at Calvary. She followed His body to the tomb and sat outside His tomb after He was buried. She was also among the first to return to the tomb following the Sabbath. And, she was the first one to whom He appeared when He arose from the dead.
While others forsook the Lord, she remained faithful to Him! When others ran away, she stayed! What was it that produced this kind of devotion in Mary’s life? I think the Bible has the answer to that question! Today, I want to look at this woman’s life. I want to find out what happened to her to make her love Jesus so. I think her life has something to say to all of us about humble, consecrated devotion to God.
SHE WAS A DESPERATE WOMAN. We are told that Mary was possessed by seven devils. The number seven may refer to seven actual demons, or since the number seven was associated with “completion”, it may mean that she was totally possessed and under the control of the demonic spirits that inhabited her. Either way, Mary’s life would have been a living Hell! She would have been drawn into vile sin and she would have been driven insane by the demons that controlled her. What a horrible life!
In that lost state, controlled as she was by the demons within her, she had no hope of salvation. She would have been cut-off from the Temple. She would have been cut-off from all help from decent society. She had nothing to look forward to but a life of sin and insanity, followed by an eternity in Hell. She was living a hopeless life!
Since she was under the control of demonic spirits, she was powerless to change her life. She was trapped and totally helpless in her enslaved and lost condition! In all this, Mary Magdalene is a perfect picture of every lost person in the world today. While most lost people may not be demon possessed, they are still dead in their sins and are powerless to change their condition! This is the clear teaching of the New Testament, Eph. 2:1-3; 12. I think you would agree with me that nothing could be more horrible than to be trapped in sin with no way out. Yet, millions in our world are in that very condition today! They live horrible lives, with no hope in their future but the fires of Hell! What a sad condition to be in! Souls are crying, men are dying – can’t you hear them crying?
Not only was she a desperate woman, SHE WAS A DELIVERED WOMAN.We are not told of the circumstances surrounding Mary’s conversion. But, the fact that Jesus would reach into this woman’s darkness and bring her into His marvelous light can be attributed to nothing but His amazing grace! In fact, had it not been for pure grace, she would have died and went to Hell. Jesus, however, was not content to let that happen and He extended love, mercy and grace to Mary and saved her soul. (Eph. 2:4-5.)
She Experienced the Lord’s Power – When Jesus reached out to this woman and delivered her, she experienced the power of God. She was instantly delivered from that which had her bound and she was set free! That is the power Jesus possesses! When He comes into a life, He makes instant and profound changes. These changes result in the sinner becoming a new creature, 2 Cor. 5:17, 1 Pet. 1:23. They result in him being set free from the things that bound him, Rom. 6:6-7. They result in absolute liberty, Rev. 5:9. That is what Jesus does for every soul He saves by grace! (Slave girl purchased and set free on the spot!)
She Experienced the Lord’s Peace – Think of the confusion that must have filled the heart and mind of this poor woman! At least seven demons all talking to her, each trying to control her and have his will carried out by her. Yet, when Jesus touched her and saved her, the turmoil in her soul was forever quieted, because only one voice was speaking within her heart now! Jesus took the pain and turmoil that plagued her away forever and quieted the storm within her heart! He’s still doing just that! Oh how well I remember the confusion that marked my own heart before I met Him. And, I remember the day that He stepped up on the bow of my life and quieted the storm in my heart. That is what He does for those who come to Him by faith, John 14:27. To put it simply, He changes absolutely everything!
Not only was she. A desperate woman and a delivered woman SHE WAS A DEVOTED WOMAN. After she met the Master, she is inseparable from Him! Notice how her devotion to the Lord Jesus is displayed in the Gospels.
Her Devotion Is Seen In Her Finances – v. 3 – It would appear that she was among those women that helped support the ministry of Jesus financially. When the Lord got her, He also got her pocketbook! (Note: The same is true about us modern believers as well! In fact, the truth is, our checkbook tells about our priorities in life! Are you giving the Lord what belongs to Him, Mal. 3:8-10?)
Her Devotion Is Seen in Her Following – Nearly everywhere you see Jesus in the Gospels, you find that Mary Magdalene was with Him. She followed Him as He ministered. She followed Him to Calvary and watched as He died, John 19:25. She even followed His body to the tomb and remained there, with another Mary, Matt. 27:55-61. In other words, she went as far as was humanly possible! She followed Him to the very end. This is His desire for you and me! He wants us to make Him our first priority, Matt. 6:33. He wants us to follow Him single mindedly and determinately, Matt. 16:24. He wants us to live out the name of “follower”! With Mary, it wasn’t about convenience, nor was it about a life of ease. For her, it was about love! She loved Him for what He had done for her! And she wanted to be with Him wherever He went! Does that same desire reside in our hearts?
Her Devotion Is Seen In Her Faithfulness – When all the others had gone away Mary Magdalene was still there! When the woman and the disciples came to the graveyard and found the tomb of Jesus empty, everyone went away except for Mary. She stayed behind and she was rewarded by having the first encounter with the risen Jesus, John 20:11-18! She was faithful to Him, even when others walked away! What produced this level of devotion within her heart for Jesus? Obviously it was all that He had done for her when He saved her. She loved Him so much for all that He had done that she simply had to be near Him! Would to God that we had the same heart beating within our hearts today! After all, He has done as much for us as He did for her! Let’s take a moment to review what and where we were when He found us and saved us. Let’s think about all we have as His children! Let’s think about what He has promised for the future. Oh, we have reason to love Him, to serve Him and to follow Him with pure, selfless devotion!
Mary served Jesus by sight until He was gone then she loved Him by faith.
Are you following Him with all your heart? If you are, don’t give up! Get before Him and thank Him for what He’s done for you and seek Him for His help for the rest of the journey.