If you have ever encountered someone possessed by a demon, it can be a very disturbing experience. I have seen individuals on different continents, from different cultures exhibit the same behaviors while under the control of a spirit of darkness. From an actual recoil in their physical eyes at the mention of Christ, to a rabid desire to harm the church, to a raging against Jesus and His people, to speaking in languages they haven’t learned in voices not their own, they are not in control of their own spirit or body. They are a danger to themselves and to others. Satanic activity can be found in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. We see examples of people under demonic control all throughout the Bible. Satan has not changed. Spiritual warfare and darkness are just as prevalent today as they have ever been. What is also still true today is that Jesus is stronger than any force of darkness. The darkness can not overcome the light.
One of the most stunning illustrations of this truth comes from the life of Mary Magdalene.
She is first mentioned in Luke where a group of Jesus’ female followers are described. Jesus had just embarked on a tour of ministry, and He was accompanied by the disciples and a group of women named in this passage, one of whom was Mary Magdalene.
Mary is mentioned 12 times in the gospels, always in close proximity to Jesus. She is always found serving, following, even supporting Jesus and the disciples out of her own financial means. We see her at the cross during the crucifixion with Jesus’ mother and John (Jn. 19:25). It would have been so dangerous to publicly identify with a man being murdered by the angry mob. The disciples understood this and all but John had fled. Yet there she stood, by the cross, heart breaking over what was being done to her Lord. Next, we find her sitting at the tomb as the stone is being placed (Mt. 27:50). Again, this placing of His body in Joseph’s tomb was a big risk for Joseph. He was identifying with Christ and it could have cost him his life, even at this burial stage, yet again, there sits Mary Magdalene, outside the tomb while they are rolling the stone in place. Next, we see her going to the tomb with Mary, Jesus’ mother with the intent of caring for Jesus’ broken body with spices (Lk.24). We see her finding an empty tomb and hearing Angels announce the resurrection of Christ. We see her running to tell the disciples what she has seen. We see her return with an incredulous Peter to see for himself. Finally, we see her weeping outside the tomb, confused and longing to find Jesus (Jn. 20:11). As she weeps over her Lord, she sees two angels, this time inside the tomb that speak to her. Right after they ask her why she is weeping, she is addressed from behind by a man who she presumes to be a gardener. He also asks her why she weeps. She says to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid Him and I will take Him away.” I love this. Mary is basically saying that she is prepared to make herself “unclean” for seven days by touching a dead body. She is going to somehow carry his body, wherever it is, all by her little self, and place it back in the tomb so that she can care for it and be near Him, though He is gone.
I absolutely love the next part. As she stands here in her fierce love and loyalty to Jesus, though she does not recognize Him in His risen form, He calls her name. “Mary.” That is all it took. He said her name. She knew that voice. She knew Him. It was her Jesus. He was alive.
I am typing this through tears. I am picturing the One who can say our names one time and change everything. He can turn darkness to light in a word. He can bring the dead to life in a word. He can cause our eyes to see truth and reality in an instant. He can awaken our souls from death simply by calling out our names. He did this for Mary Magdalene here. It was not the first time her soul had heard that voice call her name. You see, before we meet Mary as a passionate and fearless follower of Jesus in the book of Luke, Jesus had met her as someone altogether different.
Our Mary Magdalene had been possessed by demons. Luke 8 tells us that she had been possessed by seven demons when she had encountered Jesus. I pray that we never even get a glimpse of the spiritual darkness and bondage that she lived in. To be controlled by a spirit of darkness was a living death, a waking nightmare. We meet characters in the New Testament who lived in literal chains among graves, utterly controlled by demons and wandering among the dead. We meet people who throw themselves into fires and are burned. We meet people who mutilate and cut themselves, powerless over the harm they are inflicting. We meet religious people, well dressed and blending into a church, whose hearts have been filled by Satan and who speak lies, straight from the heart of their dark spiritual father.
Scripture does not tell us how this demonic possession happened in Mary’s life. We don’t know how she opened her soul to such darkness. All we know that is at some point, this girl met Jesus. Jesus called her name. “Mary!” Jesus set her free. After that point, she followed. No matter how hard, no matter how far. Why? Because Jesus had brought her from death to life. He was everything to her. And she followed, for all of her days, with all of her heart.
Women of God! Do you remember when he called you by name? Do you remember how He called you out of death into life? Is He everything to you? Are you following? Are you fiercely and faithfully following the One whose Voice brought you to life? May we look at sweet Mary Magdalene and her stubborn devotion, and may we be just like her! May we follow Jesus for all of our days, with all of our hearts. He is everything!
*My blogs are written with the assumption that they are being read primarily by Christians. If you want to know more about what it means to be a Christian or about the gospel of Jesus Christ, click the link here:The Gospel