In Luke 7:47, Jesus said that the one forgiven much loves much. In the same way, I think the one rescued from the darkest pit most wondrously wants to bathe in the warmth of the light. So it is not a surprise that Mary did not want to be separated from the One who had rescued her from the depths of demonic oppression. In fact, even to the end, she was faithful when Jesus’ disciples (apart from John) had abandoned Him.
She Stood by the Cross
But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene (john 19:25).
No, her devotion didn’t wane. Her love didn’t cool. Even at the cross, heartbroken and devastated, Mary Magdalene stayed right there. Mary witnessed the brutality of the cross and the horrors of the suffering of Christ while most of the disciples were in hiding. She could not walk away. She was compelled to stay because this was where the Christ was—and she had to be with Him.While the disciples secreted themselves away, the women stayed at the scene. Watching. Suffering. Wondering. Weeping. Nothing could describe the deep sadness of their hearts at the moment Christ breathed His last from the cross of love and yielded His spirit to the Father. Yet there they were, Mary Magdalene among them. The devotion of her heart could not be set aside by the passing of time, by public opinion, by danger, or even threat of death. The hymnwriter who penned these poignant words probably expresses Mary’s love for Christ as well:
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul on Thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
The love of Christ that had redeemed Mary held her in its wonderful, devoted grip. And even at Christ’s death, that love would not let her go. In his Gospel According to John, G. Campbell Morgan says of this love, “I never read [of this] without feeling rebuked at the loyal loving devotion of Mary Magdalene.”
She Sat by the Grave
Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were looking on to see where He was laid (mark 15:47).
Nothing could drive Mary Magdalene and the other women from the side of their fallen Lord as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea performed the grim and grisly task of removing the body of Jesus from the cross. Faithfully they followed the mournful little procession as they made their way from the Place of the Skull to the tomb—purchased by the Arimathean for his own burial but now given to the Lord he loved. Sadly they watched as the spices and wrappings were hastily applied in order to try and complete the burial before sundown—and the beginning of Shabbat. Every step of the way, these women were there. Every step of the way, their deep love for Christ overshadowed the danger of publicly identifying themselves with an executed “criminal.”
Every step of the way, she was at His side—yet how tragic. She becomes to us the very image of grief. As the darkness of night deepens to match the darkness of the sorrow in her heart, Mary Magdalene sat by the grave—her heart filled with questions that had no answers.
• How could the One who commanded demons die at the hands of mere men?
• How could the One who gave her life lay lifeless in a tomb?
• How could the One who had brought light to her heart now be darkened by death?
In the darkness of gloom and grief, however, there existed the brightness of hope—hope in the One who had rescued her and redeemed her life. Even the nature of the questions calls for answers that go beyond our natural points of reference. As the hymn continues, it carries the promise of that hope.
O Joy that seekest me thro’ pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow thro’ the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.
Study: What does the Bible tell us about the burial of Jesus? Who was involved? What was the process?
Reflect: Mary’s grateful heart bound her to Jesus—even if it only meant staying by His tomb. Her faithfulness was an expression of that gratitude. Examine your own heart by asking one question—how faithful have I been to my Savior?
Apply: How can you live a life of faithfulness to Christ? What resources has our God provided to enable that faithfulness?