Feast of St. Mary Magdelane – Sermon 147

13th February 2011 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ


Today we celebrate the Feast of St Mary Magdalene – or Mary of Magdala as she was sometimes known –

A close friend and disciple of Jesus – she followed Him – and cared for Him during His ministry –

She was present at His trial – and death – and the first one to see Jesus – after His resurrection –

Her story can be found in all four gospels –

She has sometimes – been portrayed – as a prostitute – an adultress – a sister – even a wife –

But the truth is – she was an – ordinary woman – with an extraordinary faith and love for her Lord – and – in tonight’s reading from Mark – we see glimpses of that steadfast love – as she follows Jesus all the way to His Tomb –

So lets listen to Mary’s story

Point 1      A woman anointing

It was dark when she stirred from a sleepless night – there was a bitter taste in her mouth – everything felt so unbearably heavy – filled with the sickness that comes with death –

“Did it really happen? – Is He really dead?” or was it all just – a terrible nightmare?

She closed the door behind her – and hurried quickly to the meeting place –

Waiting for the others – she could hardly stand up – there was a coldness of the air – a numbness in her arms –

But she will do – this one last thing for Him – after all He did so much for her –

She remembered the day when she first saw Him – a day she will never forget as long as she lives –

Magdala was a busy place – everybody who was anybody traded there – fishermen – boat builders – farmers – the lakeside was always awash with people and gossip – there was a lot of money to be made – a lot of corruption too –

Everybody had been buzzing about this miracle man from Nazareth – who healed people and changed their lives – she never dreamed she would actually see Him – let alone meet Him –

Before Jesus – her life had no purpose – she used to be sick a lot – physically – and mentally – some people said she had demons inside her – and they would often give her a wide berth –

But when Jesus – saw her – He seemed to know what was wrong – She doesn’t remember much of what He said – but afterwards – what a difference!

All that sickness left her – she was never the same again – it was as if for the first time in her life – she had a purpose – a relationship – with someone special – with God – and with Him – She knew then – that she would follow Him – wherever He led –

Mary had some money – and so could help with the food – all the women did – it was a way of supporting His ministry –

And what a ministry it was – she saw Him help people – heal people – she remembers seeing a man who had never walked before – get up and walk away – He even helped someone who was blind from birth – see again –

Jesus had a way of calming – everybody around Him – wherever He went – there was so much love – in Him –

She never imagined it would all end up like this

Its all their fault – she thought – those so called religious leaders – they said some cruel things about Him – and none of it was true –

We were so scared – when He said He was coming to Jerusalem – for the Passover – we knew they would try to get Him –

But – then when He came into the city – on that donkey – with all the people cheering – and waving – well – we thought it was alright – you would wouldn’t you – it was like a king’s welcome –

But we soon realized – it wasn’t – as the week went on – things started to happen – and it all got very confusing – first we heard about Judas – betraying Him – then – that He’d been put on trial – like a common criminal – they were beating Him – whipping Him – it was terrible – and then the worst thing – the Romans said He was going to be crucified –

He didn’t deserve any of it – He never hurt anyone – He was a man of peace – not violence – they even let that rebel-rouser Barrabas go – instead of Him –

The rest of the disciples scattered – she didn’t now where they went –

Even though Mary knew it would mean that she would see Him die – in that aweful way – she knew she had to be with Him – We women went to the skull place – Golgotha – and saw Him on the cross – It was horrible – I cried out so loudly – watching His broken body die!
If only He’d stayed in Galilee
If only they’d not gone to the garden
If only the men had kept their wits about them – and done more!

Why didn’t we go and fight for Him?

Afterwards we looked to see where Joseph put the body – so we could meet here this morning – and prepare Him properly for His burial –

He promised us so much – but where is it all now?

Mary lifted her head up wards – grieving – remembering – how they had silently watched the end – and in the end – had died too!

Someone’s coming – it’s the others – nothing was said – they hurried on together


Point 2        A woman searching

The women went to meet the men – at the tomb-

The stones were cold – the twisted hollow trees so empty – and still – it was a dreary light – Mary was unsure about this – she knew the stone would be there – how would they get in – how would they react to seeing His mangled body again? –

it took a moment for the sight of the empty doorway to register – they stopped uncertain – terrified of the yawning hole – of the brutality of the soldiers – of being alone and vulnerable –

There was no body – no stink of death – No Jesus – just the grave clothes – and the cold air of a new day –

Mary His mother crumpled – sobbing uncontrollably – she cried out – “No more –
For Mary – her grieving turned to rage – ‘I will not cry’ – she whispered to herself –‘ I did not fight for Him in life – but I’ll fight for Him in death!’

They walked quietly forward – and looked into the tomb again –

“Why are you crying? – who are you searching for?” – don’t be afraid!” – said the voice –

‘If you’re looking for Jesus of Nazareth – who was crucified – He has been raised – He is not here!’

‘Go and tell His disciples – and to Peter’ –

‘He is going ahead of you – as He told you – Here you will see Him in Galilee’

Mark finishes there –

In John’s Gospel – we are given a detailed account – of Mary’s – encounter with Jesus – who she mistakes as the gardener –

And when she hears Jesus – speak her name – she realises that Her teacher – Jesus – wasn’t dead at all – but alive and available to all –

And – she ran as fast as she could to tell the others

Ending     A woman with a new purpose

2000 years ago Mary Magdalene – heeded the command – from Jesus to go and tell – she went and told – what she had seen and experienced –

Like Mary – we too have a story to tell – about our encounter with Jesus – the things He has taught us – the help He has given us – the people and things He has encouraged us to care about –

And – like Mary – because of the things Jesus has done for us – we too must go and tell –

so that others may find Him where He already is – alive and at work – in the community around us –

so that like Mary – they too might – have a new purpose for living – and follow in His footsteps – seeing Jesus with new eyes – and declaring His glorious truth – to a world – longing for answers –

Prayer to finish

In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit