July 22 was the Feast Day of Mary Magdalene. At church on Sunday, the sermon focused the congregation’s attention on the Magdalene pointing out that the name Mary was a very common name back in the day and that modern edited versions of Scripture reveal there were at least 7 different women named Mary.
I forgive the Ministers for playing it safe, for not taking the risk to support what I know and believe about Mary Magdalene. Modern scholarship has diminished Mary Magdalene’s role as the Bride of the Gospel. Up until Vatican II, the view in the Roman Catholic Church and the prevalent belief in Protestant Churches was that Mary Magdalene was the Woman who anointed Jesus with her Alabaster Jar. What many Protestants contested was the fact that the Roman Catholic view used her anointing image to tarnish Mary Magdalene’s image by saying she was a sinner, a whore who was forgiven for her heart of gold.
It matters little for many people that calling Mary Magdalene a whore is no worse than calling Jesus a Jew, a Judean, or a demon possessed Samaritan. There are worse epithets. Think about Judas. Judas is called the betrayer, like Rahab. Rahab was a prostitute in old Jericho who betrayed her people by letting Joshua stay the night at her house. This made it possible for his armed men to scale the walls of Jericho under the cover of darkness to bring a mighty victory to God’s Hebrew people. Rahab let the enemy into her heart and into her home and country as did Judas.
Many, if not most Christians today, want to play it safe. They do not want to pick up their Cross, let Jesus wrap them with the Teacher’s help in the fine linen sheets of scripture and place them inside the very womb of life, wrapped and protected by a magnanimous Rock (Matthew 27:58).
Most people would not understand what I just said.
Most Christians want to see the Political Jesus, the one who lived and died as heroes live and die. They take the Crucifixion and burial of Jesus as the actual historical account of how the authorities condemned Jesus as a blasphemous traitor and executed as all Roman criminals were executed.
Many Christians believe Jesus was nailed to an ordinary cross made of lumber. They think like Simon did, as men, as people, not as God (Matthew 16:24). Their minds are on the concerns of the people. They want justice and they want to denounce all evil doing. They want law and order and they want the woman they love to be treated with dignity and respect. People want to worship a conquering hero, someone who goes into battle for them and brings them the victory. If their hero sacrifices his life for them and dies nobly all the better. They will remember him and honour his memory and teach others to “fight” and die for them and future generations.
Most Christians honour Jesus in this way, claiming he is no dead hero. He died and rose again, proving he was God. And most will argue, he did not stick around. He ate with people, proving he was alive and then having proved that fact, he ascended into heaven (Luke 24:51), with the assurance that he would return one day (Acts 1:11).
Most people stop at the Ascension, thinking this ends Jesus’ earthly ministry. This is where they will say. “See Jesus doesn’t live forever on earth and neither will we. When we die we will discard our bodies, ascend into space as vaporous spirit and live with Jesus in space, forever as a vaporous cloud. Here on earth, it is our memories and our contributions to life that live on.”
Stop! Look and Listen. Hear the blessed assurance of Acts 1:11. In the same way you saw Jesus go, you will see Jesus return. Open your eyes and your heart. See how Jesus soothes, comforts and protects his cherished bride with the help of teachers like Nicodemus.
People who are biblically alert might be quick to say. Linda I see where you are going with this. It is Joseph who lovingly, craves, or begs Pilate for the body of Jesus who is battered and bruised and whose wedding garment is removed, torn to bits and given to 7 others by demons, by people who are playing it safe or know not what they are doing. It is Joseph of Arimathea with the help of Nicodemus who anoints, wraps and carries the bloody and bruised body of Jesus in fine linen to a new cavern he has purchased for her, his Bride, as God did for Jerusalem when she became of age (Matthew 27:58; Ezekiel 16:9-10).
People will say Joseph of Arimathea is not Jesus. They will say. How could he be? You must be off the mark Linda. Joseph was the earthly Father of Jesus and his Mother was Mary.
Others will say it was Simon the Cyrene who carried the Cross of Jesus (Mark 15:21). He was the Father of some red-haired person and some person called Alexander. So How could Simon be the Father of Jesus? If Simon was a Cyrenaic, wouldn’t that make Joseph the Father of Jesus black?
What has all this got to do with Mary Magdalene?
The Bride is the female Jesus who was crucified with Christ, her Bridegroom (Galatians 2:20). For two thousand years, Mary Magdalene was celebrated as the Bride. What is keeping you from realizing this? Are demons, patriarchal language, politics, worldly concerns for border security, or peace and justice, climate change, or the enigmatic beliefs of others?
Stand up and realize the Resurrection. Humanity is created in the image and eternal loving and living likeness of God. Every living person on this planet has a mother and a father. Loving parents, loving teachers, and loving neighbours from all walks of life teach us how to love and protect one another, not lifeless idols. Sometimes the concerns of our neighbours and the concerns of our hearts blind us to the Truth. Nothing, not even the grave, can separate us from the Love of God that is physical and protects us by living and dwelling with us forever (Romans 8:38).
Mary Magdalene is the Bride, the Godly Mother of the Gospel. Her Godly Groom is Simon, the Christ she stumbled upon with the love and help of Jesus Nicodemus (John 3:1-21). She is not an X-rated enigma. Children need to see her as the Rabbi who loved much. They need to forgive and redeem her inordinate love affair with Israel’s Teacher who made straight the highway, to empower sinners to turn back to God and honour their Mother and their Father.
This is Good News. Not Fake News. Jesus the Rabboni did not steal Christ’s body as many have thought. Christ’s body belongs to the Bride. The Rabboni is the Friend of the Groom who ascends, stands up with his head held high and his arms stretched out, rejoicing at the sound of the Bridegroom’s voice, saying I do! (John 3:29; John 20:15-17).
The Ascension does not end Jesus’ earthly ministry. The Ascension is the beginning!