Her arms slip out from behind the long-sleeved tunic, revealing scars crisscrossed like a busy highway intersection. I couldn’t help but stare.
She follows my gaze. “They’re ugly, huh?” Instead of pulling her sleeves down, she shoves them higher, laying her arms out in front of me.
The marks continue all the way to her shoulders.
“These remind me how far I’ve come,” she says.
I lift my brows.
Mary Magdalene traces the scars with her fingers, spending time on each one as if every jagged line invokes a memory of its own.
I take a sip of my coffee and wait for the brown-eyed beauty to share her painful past. The usual busy café hushes like they were also listening to our conversation.
She pulls her sleeves down like she’s wrapping the cuts for the first time. Gingerly. She winces.
To her the pain is still real.
But, when she glances my way, her eyes are shining. Her face radiates joy.
How can that be?
“Let me start at the beginning.” She smiles. “I lived in a prosperous town called Magdala on the west bank of the Sea of Galilee. It’s a beautiful spot. I was a bright young girl with hope of a great future. But my dreams where shattered the moment they entered my body.”
Her eyes darken. “Seven ugly demons. They took over my mind and I couldn’t control anything I did or said. They plagued me for years. They made me do things I didn’t remember doing. My parents told me I would wake up every morning with cuts all over my body. Apparently, I tried to scratch them out of me.”
She stirred honey and cream into her coffee, and took a sip. “No one wanted to be around me. Even in my adult years I was labeled as deranged. Until…”
I hold my breath, anticipating her next words.
“Until He found me.”
“Yeshua healed me and my life was never the same. The demons were gone and I was ready to follow Him.”
I check my list of questions and settle on one that may stir up trouble.
“It’s said you were one of the boys, a female disciple, so to speak. Is that true?”
She chuckles. “Not sure I would call it that, but I followed Jesus like the other disciples and was with him a lot.”
“Wouldn’t you want to be? The man healed me. I wanted to learn as much as I could about him. He was my Master. I had to draw upon every word he spoke.”
“What was he like?”
“The gentlest man I’ve ever known. Tender, caring, loving. All that and more.”
“Did you learn any secrets from being with him every day?”
She grasps my hands and leans forward.
I bring my ear close to her mouth, my heart thudding with excitement. What mystery will she reveal?
“It was all a love conspiracy.” She giggles and leans back.
“What else do you want to know?”
“When Jesus was being tortured by the soldiers, what was going through your mind?”
She grips the sides of the table, knuckles turning white. “Gut-wrenching heartache and anger like I’ve never felt before all wrapped up into one. I hated to watch as the whip tore and ripped open his flesh, but I also couldn’t turn away. I sobbed with every lash, and clung to Mary.”
Tears escape, cascading down her cheeks while her face contorted in pain.
She’s reliving the moment.
My own tears form as I think of the brutal scene in the movie The Passion of the Christ. Could Mel Gibson have gotten it right? Was it that horrifying?
The look on Mary Magdalene’s face confirms he did.
Jesus, why did you go through that pain for us?
I check my notes and see one more question about the crucifixion I have to ask.
“Why did you go to the cross to watch him die? Why put yourself through that?”
“He was dying for me. How could I stay away?”
I hung my head.
Would I have done the same?
I hope so.
“The morning of the resurrection, why didn’t you recognize Jesus until he said your name?”
She sighs and stares out the window.
“I wasn’t looking for him. I never expected to see Yeshua again this side of heaven.” She turns back to me, her smile extending the width of her face. “But when I heard his voice, I melted and fell at his feet. Oh, what a day that was!”
I turn the page in my journal, eyeing the last question.
“Why do you think he appeared to you first and not the rulers, kings, or even the disciples?”
The front door opens and brings in a draft of warm spring air, swirling around our table. She loosens her shawl.
“I believe it’s the same reason the angels first appeared to shepherds announcing his birth. To show us humbleness.”
Of course. What a perfect plan. God chose a deranged woman delivered from torment to reveal His Son’s resurrected body.
I touch the scars on her arms. She doesn’t flinch.
Isn’t that just like Him? To pick the humblest person to reveal and deliver His message of love.
Yes, this was a conspiracy. A woman delivered from mental anguish was part of a bigger plan.
One that involved the destruction of sin and our deliverance from it.
His love conquers all!
Would you have been able to go to the cross like Mary Magdalene and watch our Savior die? That’s a tough one. Share your comments.
John 20:18b (The VOICE)
“I have seen the Lord!”