Strong Forgotten Women of the Bible: Mary Magdalene

Want to know what my favorite thing is? When I use every bit of my free time in my already packed to the brim life planning something all the way down to the smallest detail and right when I am at my finishing point, when I am dotting my I’s and crossing my T’s, something changes and within seconds every bit of my planning means nothing.

That is what happened to me this week. When I originally started writing this blog, it was so easy to get a blog out every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Now I do good to have time to put on deodorant Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If I am not passing out from exhaustion, I am definitely running late somewhere. So trust me when I tell you, when I started the series “Strong Forgotten Women of the Bible” I did not have much room in my schedule for anything that would completely jumble this outline I had already laid out in my head.

Did that stop God? Of course not! (P.S. Is it a sin to throw sarcasm towards God? Someone tell me now before he strikes me down before I even make it through my sentence.) (P.P.S. I made it, is that a good sign?) 9 times out of 10 God’s timeline completely contradicts with mine so did I really expect any different with my lesson plan?

I had planned to write about someone else, an entirely different character brought to life throughout the old testament. Yet two nights ago, I woke up and knew that’s not who I would be writing about.  Two nights ago I remember waking up and all I could remember dreaming about was the girl who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair.

It is actually insane that I would dream of her and I knew it was 110% God. I can honestly say I have not thought of that story since I was a child and throughout my recent sincere study throughout the Bible, this is a story I have not yet really encountered. So why had I dreamed of her? My theory is because while I was so focused on bringing to the light small characters with one liners that are easily overlooked and often forgotten, I missed what was right in front of my face. I HAD FORGOTTEN a strong female character throughout the Bible, one of the strongest in fact. Her name was Mary Magdalene.

Alike many of the great characters throughout the Bible, there are many misconceptions about the character that was Mary Magdalene. One being that she is largely assumed to be the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet.

“One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind his at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to them, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven-for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves litter.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” 

Luke 7:36-50

Now whether this IS or IS NOT Mary Magdalene is a debate that I do not know enough information about to yet speak on. What I know is that God put the lady that washed God’s feet on my heart and I have always known that lady to be Mary Magdalene.

I have never really studied this story because if I am being truthful, it didn’t interest me any. I have always found the sight of a woman sobbing over feet a picture that felt kind of odd. The story made me very uncomfortable.

I have since realized that the thing that made me so uncomfortable was also what made this story so special. This story shows someone at a point of complete surrender. Here is this woman who we can only assume is widely known for her sinful behavior due to the fact that Simon was aware of this character and her daily actions but we can also assume they did not run in the same social circles due to the fact that she is silently judged by Simon. Even Jesus pointed out that one sinned very little, and the other sinned quite a bit. Based on the amount of sin presented in their every day life, we can only then assume that these two lived very different lifestyles.

So imagine being this woman with a very prominent and ugly past and you are standing in the presence of the Son of God in a room surrounded by your neighbors, each of which knowing every single dark, dirty secret. That is a terrifying thought! Just for the simple fact this woman was brave enough to make herself present is amazing all on its own!

What I find to be most inspiring is that she KNEW the sins she was carrying, but that she WANTED something better, she WANTED to do right and be good and because of this she LOVED God. She loved and appreciated him in a manner most people did not, people, unlike us, who just get to carry the Lord in our heart, they physically had him in their homes!

She knew every sinful act she had done every day leading up to the time she walked through that door, but it was her LOVE for him, her LOVE for what is right and good and kind, that gave her the courage to show up, and the humility to surrender it all in that moment.

“Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven-for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 4:47

In this passage she is just referred to as a sinner. Want to know who else is a sinner?

Me.

You.

Want to know who God loves just as much as he loved her?

Me.

You.

Want to know whom he is willing to forgive of our sins, which are many?

Me.

And You.

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