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Exploring Easter through the eyes of Mary Magdalene

Elizabeth Tabish as Mary Magdalene in season three of 'The Chosen,' 2022
Elizabeth Tabish as Mary Magdalene in season three of "The Chosen," 2022 | The Chosen

Perhaps one of the most riveting narratives in the Bible is the story of Mary Magdalene’s visit to Jesus’ tomb that first Easter morning. While it was still dark, it wasn’t one of the 12 disciples or even his own mother who first stumbled to the empty tomb, witnessing the greatest miracle in the Christian faith — it was Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene was the first person to bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus, and she was the first person to whom Jesus appeared.

God chose Mary Magdalene, a woman resurrected from a life of demon possession, despair, and brokenness — as the first person that the resurrected Lord calls by name and gives a missionary assignment to: “Go, find my brothers.”

Mary Magdalene’s story is an example that God has the power to rename us, give us a new identity, and a new purpose. Her life and example teach us to embrace a narrative beyond our past. Despite the seven demons that plagued her, Mary Magdalene became a prominent witness to the Christian faith. Throughout Scripture, we see that Jesus resurrected her life and elevated her to a place of honor and prestige.

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Mary Magdalene’s life is proof that no matter where we find ourselves this Easter season, Jesus can — and wants — to restore each of us, resurrecting even the most broken places in our lives.

I love how the television series, “The Chosen,” first depicts Mary Magdalene. In the show, Jesus finds her at rock bottom in a tavern, disheveled from fighting the demonic influences, ready to give up on life itself.  But Jesus’ words to her are a startling revelation for us all: “I have redeemed you, Mary,” Jesus tenderly says, using her given name — a name she hadn’t heard in many years we are led to believe. “I have called you by name. You are mine.”

From that point on, her new name and identity had been bestowed by her Lord. It’s a reminder that our past, no matter how broken, defiled, or ruined, does not define us. God delights in using broken people to do beautiful things.

In the same way, Mary Magdalene’s story shows us that we can flourish even in what we may believe to be imperfect circumstances. Mary Magdalene, no doubt, felt life was not good when she woke up that first Easter morning. Her Lord, the one who renamed her and called her his own, had been crucified. Yet a day that began in despair turned into the greatest day in recorded history. And Mary Magdalene was at the center of the action.

I wonder what Mary was thinking that morning when she showed up to the tomb in the dark. Was she looking for comfort in the way that we do when we visit a loved one's grave? Whatever her motives were, my human heart can assume that she was looking for hope in the midst of her once again broken circumstances.

If you’re anything like me, you can relate to Mary’s pain. I know what it’s like to be re-named, to be given a new purpose, and yet to find myself, once again, amidst broken circumstances.

And yet, Jesus has a way of consistently bringing me back to the reality that he delights in using people, circumstances, and situations that are imperfect. In fact, it seems like that is often the path that somehow glorifies him most. To use the most undeserving in the most unexpected ways. The Bible is riddled with imperfect people who performed God-sized tasks, like Moses, King David, the apostle Paul, and Mary Magdalene. I have to believe it’s all about making sure He gets all the glory, not us.

Lastly, the story of Mary Magdalene points to the hope that each of us can find grace in our every day and in our tomorrow. The final glimpse we have of her in Scripture records her uttering these life-giving words, “I have seen the Lord.” These words should bring us hope and comfort this Easter and all year long. They can anchor us with the grace we need to face whatever is in front of us. For, one day, we all hope to be like Mary Magdalene and behold Jesus face-to-face.

Mary Magdalene gives me renewed hope this Easter. This woman, whom Jesus rescued and restored, reminds me that God can make me new — and you as well. Like Mary Magdalene, may we be quick to exclaim that we have “seen the Lord.” May our lives eagerly reflect this good news, not just at Easter but in every season and circumstance we face.

Kira McCracken is the Vice President of Development at the Come and See Foundation.

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