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They Walked With God: Mary Magdalene

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Mary Magdalene goes from demonic to disciple and paints a picture of a believer who sticks with Jesus through thick and thin.

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Text: Luke 8:1-3
Theme: Mary Magdalene goes from demonic to disciple and paints a picture of a believer who sticks with Jesus through thick and thin.
Date: 06/02/19 File name: TheyWalkedWithGodMaryM.wpd ID Number:
Mary Magdalene walked with God. She is one of the more prominent women mentioned in the Gospels. Unfortunately, much of her reputation is undeserved. In A.D. 604, Pope Gregory the Great didn’t study his bible very carefully, and mis-identified Mary Magdalene with the “sinful woman” of Luke 7. Ever since Mary Magdalene has been identified as a prostitute ... a reformed prostitute, but a prostitute none-the-less. The films Jesus Christ Superstar, The Last Temptation of Christ, and even Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ all portrayed her as a “soiled dove.” Her reputation as a reformed prostitute, however, has no biblical support, but even today, more often than not, it’s how many Christians think of her. It wasn’t until 1969 that Pope Paul VI officially corrected the mistake and took Mary off the “naughty list.”
Mary Magdalene has always been an important part of the Gospel story, and students of the Scriptures are well-acquainted with her name and her place in the Gospels. Her fame rose to new heights in 2003 when author Dan Brown released his novel The da Vinci Code. The novel explores an alternative religious history to Christianity. The book’s central plot point is that Jesus and Mary Magdalene where married, and had children, and that the Merovingian kings of France were descended from the bloodline of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. Brown was not the first to make such a claim, but his book gave it new life. The book became an international best-seller and was turned into a block-buster movie staring Tom Hanks. The Da Vinci Code reignited a popular interest in Mary Magdalene's role in the history of Christianity. The book is pure fiction, and if you like a good story with lots of plot twists, then by all means ... read the book. BUT; understand that it is pure fiction. About the only true facts in the book are that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were real historical figures.
When it comes to the life of Mary Magdalene, the Bible is our authority, not Dan Brown. Everything we know about her is contained in a dozen mentions of her in the four Gospels. The earliest mention of her in connection with Jesus is Luke 8:1-3, and her last mention is, among the women in Acts 1:14 gathered in the Upper Room praying on the Day of Pentecost. Most of the texts about her connect her with those few female disciples who were with Jesus at his crucifixion, and who went to the tomb on Sunday morning to finish embalming his body only to be the first witness of the resurrection. This message is about her life, and the life-lessons she provides us.

I. SHE WAS A WOMAN WHO HAD BEEN UNDER THE POWER OF SATAN

“After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out;” (Luke 8:1–3, NIV84)
1. Satan is real ... demonic possession is real, and the Church dare not minimize this reality
“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:11–13, NIV84)
2. all men are under the influence of one of two “fathers”
a. all confessing Christians are under the fatherhood and influence of the True Father — the God of creation
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12–13, NIV84)
b. all non-believers are under the fatherhood and influence of a false father — the devil
“Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”” (John 8:42–47, NIV84)
1) this verse doesn’t mean that every non-believer is demon possessed
2) this verse does mean that the world, the flesh, and the devil are the primary influence in all decisions made by the lost
c. the world rejects this doctrine, but they reject it at their eternal peril
3. Mary Magdalene’s life was a life of torment, and restlessness
a. she was in a hopeless and helpless condition
1) throughout the New Testament we see demoniacs suffering severe emotional, psychological, and sometimes even physical trauma
2) demons afflicted people with illnesses, and disabilities, but mostly they are agents of deceit, sent to keep men from seeing the light of Christ
ILLUS. A book every Christian should read is entitled The Screwtape Letters, first published in 1942, and written by British author C. S. Lewis. It’s a defense of the Christian faith written in the form of imaginary letters between two evil spirits. One is a senior demon called Screwtape who writes letters of encouragement to his nephew called Wormwood. The uncle's mentorship pertains to the nephew's responsibility in securing the damnation of a British man known only as "the Patient". After the second letter, however, the Patient converts to Christianity, and Wormwood is chastised for allowing this. In often humorous ways, Lewis uses these imaginary letters to illustrate the types of temptations demons use to undermine God’s Word among the lost and discourage the saved. In Screwtape's advice, selfish gain and power are seen as the only good, and neither demon can comprehend God's love for man.
b. Lewis helps the Church understand the power and the malevolency of demonic powers
4. Mary had lost all control, and dignity, and she was likely shunned by her family and community

II. SHE WAS A WOMAN MIRACULOUSLY DELIVERED BY THE POWER OF CHRIST

1. Mary’s situation was hopeless
a. not only is she a sinner without Christ, she is demon possessed
b. men could do nothing for her
1) no surgeon could cut away the problem
2) no psychiatrist could psychoanalyze her problem away
3) no herbalist could aromaticize her problem away
“Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless.” (Psalm 108:12, NIV84)
2. then Jesus came to town
a. Christ delivered her and gave her a new life
“With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.” (Psalm 108:13, NIV84)
“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:25, NIV84)
b. in Christ Mary Magdalene became a new creation

III. SHE WAS A WOMAN WHO BECAME A DEVOTED FOLLOWER OF CHRIST

“Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.” (Matthew 27:55–56, NIV84)
1. Luke tells us that, along with some other godly women, Marry Magdalene followed Jesus throughout Israel and supported his ministry financially
a. where her wealth came from the Bible is silent, but church tradition has always maintained that she was a woman of means
ILLUS. This is not totally unprecedented in ancient Israel. We know from 1st-century Synagogue inscriptions that there were women of wealth throughout Israel who served as benefactors and patrons of houses of worship and various benevolent ministries.
2. out of gratitude, Mary gave herself, her heart, and her substance to Jesus
3. even in adversity, Mary’s faith in Christ stood firm
a. when Jesus is arrested, condemned, and crucified, virtually all of his Apostles and disciples abandoned him
b. with the exception of the Apostle John, the only disciples who stand with Jesus during his ordeal are women — including Mary Magdalene
“A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him.” (Luke 23:27, NIV84)
“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.” (John 19:25, NIV84)
4. on that black Friday, Mary’s world died on a Roman cross ... little does she know that Sunday is coming!

IV. SHE WAS A WOMAN WHO BECAME A BOLD WITNESS FOR CHRIST

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”” (John 20:1–2, NIV84)
“Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.” (John 20:16–18, NIV84)
1. according to the New Testament, Mary is the first person to visit the tomb, the first person to report to the Apostles that the tomb is empty, and the first person to see the risen Christ
ILLUS. Interestingly, even skeptics of Christianity point to this as one of the most compelling reasons to believe the resurrection narratives might be true. In an era when a woman’s testimony was considered too unreliable to us used in a court of law, no group attempting to “make up” a new religion would make a woman the heroine of the resurrection accounts. It just wouldn’t have been believed ... except if it were true.
2. some Bible scholars have referred to Mary as the apostle to the apostles
a. it’s a play on words ... apostle simply means one who is sent out with a message
1) Mary is a messenger of the risen Christ sent out to the Lord’s messengers — the Apostles — who would, in turn, spread the message of the Gospel to all the known world
2) all who embrace that message become sons of God — and messengers themselves of the Gospel of our Christ
“But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:8–9, NIV84)
3. Mary, once a demoniac becomes a disciple and the very first witness to the resurrection and the Church’s first evangelist
a. the last we hear of her, is in a round-about-way in the Book of Acts
b. in Acts, the first chapter, the Apostles have witnessed the Ascension of Jesus back into the heavens, and they return to the Upper Room where the rest of the disciples are hold a prayer meeting
“When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” (Acts 1:13–14, NIV84)
1) Mary is undoubtedly included in the group called simple, the women and then she fades into obscurity as far as biblical history is concerned
ILLUS. We have many apocryphal stories about Mary — apocryphal as in non-biblical, fanciful, and untrue, so we ignore them as a source of truth.

V. WHAT DO WE LEARN FROM MARY MAGDALENE’S LIFE?

A. GOD WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE AND MAKE YOU A NEW CREATION

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV84)
1. let’s face it, when it comes to the Christian faith, many professing believers — too many — only consider how their eternal future is changed when they come to Christ
a. Jesus forgives me of my sin ... I’m going to heaven when I die ... end of story
1) no, no, NO! there’s so much more to the Christian faith
2) Mary Magdalene teaches us that there is so much more to the Christian identity
2. it’s about an absolute devotion to Christ, and that in him we are a new creation who, every day, are being conformed more and more into the image of the son
“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV84)
a. this is one of those verses that I’ve repeatedly come back to in recent years attempting to grasp the height and the depth, and the magnificence of what the Apostle is saying about our lives
b. Paul’s reference here is to Moses after coming down from the mountain top after meeting with God, and his face was glowing ... and it scared the people and so he put a veil over his face to hide it
1) eventually he was able to remove the veil because Moses’ glory was a diminishing radiance
a) the Christian’s is not
c. the Christians’ glory, like that of Moses, is a reflection of the Lord’s glory, but unlike Moses’ diminishing glory a believer’s glory is eternal and increasing day-by-day
1) this is because of God’s abiding presence through the Holy Spirit
2) the real question is ... do people see the glory of Christ reflected in your life
d. those of us who are in Christ are progressively being transformed into the likeness of God’s only begotten Son
1) that does not mean we are some how being deified
2) it does mean that we are increasingly becoming sanctified — holy in the sight of God the Father
3) it’s a continual process ... never ending ... until we stand before him complete
ILLUS. C. S. Lewis described it this way: “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of — throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
3. God the Father will make you a new creation, and it begins the moment you come to God the Son, Jesus Christ, receiving God’s free offer of grace by simply believing and confessing faith in Jesus’ redemptive work

B. DISCIPLES MUST BE DEVOTED FOLLOWERS OF JESUS

1. simply put, Jesus should be the center of your world
“ “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26–27, NIV84)
ILLUS. In his book What’s Wrong With the World, G. K. Chesterton wrote, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”
2. too many people want just enough of Jesus to feel good about themselves
a. Jesus wants our whole heart
b. after Mary's first encounter with Jesus, He becomes the sun that her life revolves around
1) wouldn’t you feel that way if you were delivered from demon possession?
2) how can we feel any different knowing we’ve been delivered from eternal hell and damnation?
3. we should follow Mary's example
a. when we encounter Jesus, how can we return to the life we left?
b. he changes everything
1) he changes how we relate to the culture
2) he changes how we relate to each other — especially those in the Body of Christ
a) we really do become brothers and sisters in Christ who are to love each other and respect each other, and put others before we ourselves
c. our whole life becomes about following and serving Him until, like Mary, our story becomes intertwined and indistinguishable from His
4. Mary’s devotion to Christ was driven by her knowledge of what he had delivered her from
a. Jesus has delivered us from death and dying, from sin and judgment, from hell and damnation
b. should our devotion be an less than hers?
c. maybe the one lesson we all need to learn from Mary is gratitude to Christ for releasing us from sin and death

C. WE NEED TO BECOMES HERALDS OF THE GOOD NEWS

1. a week earlier, Mary is part of the entourage following Jesus as he makes his triumphal entry into Jerusalem
a. five days later she is standing on Calvary watching Jesus die
1) it’s hard to imagine the emotional turmoil she has experienced
2. now she is on her way to the tomb to anoint the dead body of Jesus ... or so she thinks
a. but the stone is rolled away ... the body is missing ... her grief and pain at the loss of her Lord is compounded now by the loss of his body
b. she breaks down and begins to sob
“but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).” (John 20:11–16, NIV84)
“Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.” (John 20:18, NIV84)
3. Mary becomes the Church’s first evangelist — proclaiming the Good News — He Lives! I serve a risen Savior!
ILLUS. After his Ascension into Heaven, was surrounded by the Holy Angels who began to enquire about his work on earth. Jesus told them about His birth, life, preaching, death and resurrection, and how he had accomplished the salvation of his Elect. The angel Gabriel asked, “Well, now that you are back in Heaven, who will continue your work on earth?” Jesus said, “While I was on earth, I gathered a group of people around me who believed in me and loved me. They will continue to spread the Gospel and carry on the work of the Church.” Gabriel was perplexed. “You mean Peter, who denied you thrice and all the rest who ran away when you were crucified? You mean to tell us that you left them to carry on your work? And what will you do if this plan doesn’t work?” Jesus said, “I have no other plan.”
a. truly, Jesus has no other plan!
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