A reporter once asked Mother Teresa why so many people find it difficult to accept the presence of Christ.
“It’s because you don’t know him,” she replied.
Mary Magdalene knew Jesus, and she was a demon-possessed prostitute when she met him. In first century Jewish culture, it was inconceivable that a celebrated Rabbi, like Jesus, would talk to any woman, much less one like her. Jesus didn’t just talk to Mary, and drive the demons from her, and restore her dignity, he loved her with a Lloyd Dobler standing under your window with a boom box kind of love – times a million. Not surprisingly, Mary followed him everywhere.
Mary was sobbing outside Jesus’ tomb on the third morning after he was tortured to death. There, Jesus appeared to her but she thought he was the gardener. He asked her why she was crying.
Sir if you carried Him away from here, tell me where you have put Him and I will take him away.
Jesus said to her, Mary!
Turning around she said to Him in Hebrew, Rabboni!
Can you hear the exclamation points? I didn’t add them, they’re in the text John 20:16. It’s hard to grasp the desolation Mary must have felt as the man she believed was not just her Messiah but The Messiah, was murdered. I can hear her astonishment and terror and joy in that one word, which means Beloved Teacher or Master.
Jesus told Mary not to cling to Him but to go tell the disciples he was ascending to his Father. Mary ran with the good news. Do you know what that makes Mary Magdalene, besides a formerly demon-possessed prostitute?
The world’s very first evangelist.
People love to argue about that of course, especially given what the Apostle Paul later said about women speaking in church, but we’ll talk about that later. Promise.
The point is Jesus treasures women – especially the marginalized, widowed, sick, poor, foreign, afflicted and wayward ones. He entreats us to appreciate how humiliating it is to stand under our windows with a boom box begging us to know Him and love Him back.