Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, which is an unfathomable statement to make about oneself. But it is not the only inconceivable statement he made. To study him, as one might a loose cannon in the crowd, we find one who is entirely countercultural, who affirms those who are rejected and overlooked, who gives women a voice and safe place to be heard, and who calls everyone to transparency, speaking toward a broken world with all its pain and shortfall, sickness and sin. If this is indeed the Son of God, he is a God who not only can handle our unedited stories—but demands them—because he himself did not hold back from standing in the midst of it all.
Mary Magdalene’s is one such story. She left behind the life she knew to follow the one who knew her. To this day, her story of faith and discipleship remains the one God has deemed worth retelling:
On the morning after the Sabbath, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb, according to the gospel writers. Mary was bent over with grief. She had followed Jesus and his disciples from city to city, watched him heal the sick and free the captives, turn ashes to beauty and mourning to gladness. She looked on as Jesus was taken and beaten and bound to a cross, and she watched as they buried him in a tomb, death having silenced the very life that changed her own. Like many women in Scripture, Mary’s tears were perhaps the last desperate words to the God she hoped was listening. The body she had come to anoint and care for was now missing, and she thought the gardener had something to do with it. In devastated affection, she pled for the body of the one she loved: “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him” (John 20:15b).
It was the sound of her own name that opened her eyes. Jesus said to her, “Mary.” And she turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means teacher). Jesus later appeared to all of his disciples, but it was Mary—a life once filled with hopelessness turned around by a compelling love and the courage to follow—to whom Jesus chose first to appear. She who loved much was given a place in his story, not as a testimony to her sins or in rebellion to a cultural norm or as tabloid scandal, but as yet another fully human reflection of the profound story of the Son of God.
(1) James Hurley, Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 82.