The ministry of the broken
Mary Magdalene is known as ‘the apostle to the apostles,’ because after discovering the empty tomb on Easter, she was sent by the risen Christ to tell the other disciples, who were scattered and hiding.
She is the first evangelist, the first to share the good news of the resurrection - a unique and vital role in the gospel story.
But there’s another way Mary Magdalene is set apart in the Jesus narrative, and the two distinctives are related.
Mary Magdalene was personally healed by Jesus.
All the disciples, male and female, witnessedmiracles. They saw extraordinary things they wouldn’t have thought possible before they happened. They could testify to the power of Jesus and the truth of his message. But Mary was the recipient of Christ’s healing, in her own person, in her own life.
The gospel of Luke says that 7 demons had been cast out of Mary Magdalene. ‘Demons’ referred to all sorts of affliction in those days, so we are left to imagine just what specific hardships were lifted from Mary.
She could have experienced a physical restoration, after living with a bodily injury or sickness.
She may have been coping with mental illness, which was no longer allowed dominion over her life.
She could have experienced the exorcism of self-hatred.
She may have been given the strength to live and love after being crippled by grief.
She may have been healed of wounds from trauma and abuse.
We don’t know most of the details of Mary’s story, but we know that she was healed by Christ, and this is no small thing.
Because the time came when great hardship and viciousness was brought upon Jesus, and the healer himself was broken. It was devastating to watch, and most of his followers couldn’t bear to stick around.
Mary Magdalene, who understood herself as one had been devastated and redeemed, was among the few who stayed with Jesus through Good Friday, and came to the tomb on Easter Sunday.
Most fled during Jesus’ darkest hour, but not Mary.
It is possible to allow our personal injury, abandonment and anguish to become compassion and loyalty to others who suffer.
Mary Magdalene, the broken and healed, the lost and found, the oppressed and liberated, was compelled to visit Jesus' tomb on Sunday morning.
It was she, who had been hurt and helped, who discovered resurrection, and became the first to tell the world.