The blatant misery of passion emptied on an unworthy love is the substance of epic tragedies and sagas of loss.
Mary of Magdala lived both narratives.
We don’t really know her backstory. We have no details of what imprisoned her.
But whatever it was, she was so utterly bound and profoundly obsessed that she is described as having seven demons–a Biblical way of saying she was fully under the control of that which enslaved her.
There is no more demoralizing way to live than being dominated by despotic desires bent on your destruction. Mary lived that downward spiral every day.
Then she met Jesus…and the restless passion of her heart finally found a home.
Jesus drove the tyrannical compulsions from her by His love. Accepted and forgiven, she found herself belonging among His closest followers. Purpose and significance was birthed from this experience of freedom. Gratitude gripped the core of her being.
She would never be the same and she could never forget. She loved him so much because He had freed her from so much.
So she followed Him loyally, to the end. She was there when He suffered in humiliation–her soul traumatized by the degree of loss she was enduring. Yet, her love for Him never dimmed.
Her commitment was unshakeable, her devotion unbending. This was passion that could not be derailed or denied.
She would love Him no matter what because that is how He had loved her. She had known the pain of passion wasted and was now experiencing the joy of passion rewarded. She believed real love was worth the cost.
You see, Mary had a burning heart.
So it was natural that the last person at the cross was also the first person at the tomb. She wanted to make sure there was an honorable and fitting end to His story because it had rewritten her story.
Staring at the empty tomb, her faith could not yet stretch far enough to believe the impossible. Instead, she felt robbed…violated! Someone had taken the very last thing she had of Jesus.
She wept…inconsolably and uncontrollably, the grief so deep that even an angelic visitation could not comfort her. A stranger asked why she was crying and we see the apex of her passion: “if you have taken Him tell me where and I will get him!”
She was willing to go to any extreme just to touch him one more time.
Only when she heard her name escape the lips of the Gardener did it become obvious that the nightmare was really a dream come true. She threw herself at His feet and clung with all her might. She never wanted to let go again.
Hers were the first eyes to see the Risen Christ…the first ears to hear His voice. Even though she had suffered catastrophically as she walked with Him to His death, she had always known He was worth it.
Something gripping and profound struck me as I re-read this part of the story over Easter.
Mary was consumed with passion for a Jesus she thought was dead.
I wonder if I am half as passionate for a Jesus I know is alive.