Written by JJ Brown, July 2019
What follows was written by my boyfriend. His insights into Mary Magdalene’s life and trials give me hope. They also give me hope in Jesus Christ.
Who was Mary Magdalene, who with other women traveled with Christ and “ministered unto him of their substance”? These other women were not groupies; they were an integral part of Christ’s support while He ministered. They were “certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene. Out of whom went seven devils.”
Were they there only because He had freed them from their bodily and spiritual ailments? Or were they also especially elect, and their trials were a preparation to serve with the Master?
“For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined”Psalm 66:10
It’s wonderful to imagine the Savior ministering among the poor and sick with this team of women at his side. Who better to serve the suffering than those who had suffered themselves, who had been healed of their “evil spirits and infirmities,” and who understood?
Magdalene was prominently there. What kind of knowledge and understanding had she earned? What would her earlier life have been like to be plagued by seven devils? These devils would have taken full advantage of their victim. She must have experienced extreme trauma, anxiety, confusion, loneliness, helplessness, hopelessness, mania, and all the social shunning that comes to those plagued with such demons.
But Christ saw her, really SAW her. He knew the source of her trauma, and her seven devils were no match for his power. What else did He see in her? Having been subject to seven dark angels and then healed; what level of experience, wisdom, and understanding had she gained?
Mary Magdalene is the only woman mentioned in all four Gospels. We know she travelled with the Savior. We know He visited her home on at least three separate occasions. We know she anointed Him before his crucifixion. We know she stayed with Him at the Cross. We know she came to anoint Him after his burial, and she stayed by his sepulcher. We know He appeared first to her when He returned. We know she was told to not cling to Him too tightly, for He was not there to stay.
Those who remembered Magdalene during her possession and her times of trauma might have questioned why Jesus would give a very intimate place in his life to such a “broken” woman.
Perhaps a better question is, who are these women plagued with the worst of what the fallen world has to offer? How does God see these women whom He refines the most?
1 And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,
2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,
3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.Luke 8, KJV
Mary Magdalene’s Strength, Part 2
JJ Brown, July 2019
This one-minute video about Mary Magdalene teaches us much about battling the dark side. It depicts Christ casting very large demons from Mary Magdalene.
“What we know about Mary is that she’s possessed by 7 demons. This would have been a very personally traumatizing condition to have, and she hasn’t been able to find any respite from it until she meets Jesus….It’s difficult to imagine how profound that moment must be for her: to finally feel free and cured and whole.”Professor Candida Moss
Why 7 demons? 7 days in a week, 7 dispensations, 7 days of creation. Seven is considered holy in many world religions. In the Bible it relates to the aspects of perfection. Seven general areas in our life need perfecting; they are described as the seven virtues and vices. According to some traditions, the seven archangels oversee the development of each virtue. They help us overcome the Fall as we turn each vice into a virtue. With the help of Heaven, we can turn our weaknesses into strengths.
The 7 vices encompass general aspects of being fallen, and the 7 virtues encompass a full recovery, freedom, and wholeness.
- LUST – An insatiable need for sex or things of a sexual nature,
- GLUTTONY – Over indulgences of anything to the extreme, usually food or drink,
- GREED – The need for material possessions or material wealth,
- SLOTH – Idleness, languor, sadness, depression, or the inability to feel joy.
- WRATH- Extreme anger, rage, hatred, or a need for vengeance or revenge,
- ENVY – The need to have better or be better than others,
- PRIDE- A need to be more important than others.
If each archangel provides Heavenly support for the virtues, wouldn’t the dark side have 7 counterpart demons? Can we doubt that the dark side has its own specialists with sophisticated programs and trained technicians who are expert at instilling these vices into our hearts and minds through both spiritual and physical means, and especially through trauma?
Magdalene was not simply tempted by 7 great demons; they inhabited her. She was under their full power and fury. It is awe-inspiring to consider that in her premortal life, Mary may have chosen to submit herself to the FULL complement of darkness on earth in order to teach us the most important truth: that through Christ, EVERYTHING the dark side throws at us (or puts into us) can be overcome, completely. Did Mary choose to be fully refined as a preparation to serve others with greater power?
At one level or another, we are all targets of the 7 dark programs. We must turn them into strengths.
We don’t know how quickly Christ was able to dispose of Mary’s 7 demons, but the video shows us a process. That process involves Mary, herself, vocally identifying each demon by name and exposing it as an outside force. The emotional healing likely was also a process.
“According to Gospel traditions, the way Jesus dealt with particularly severe cases of demon possession is that he would get them to name themselves, and then having named them, then demanding by name that they leave the person.”Prof. Ben Witherington, III
The dark side weakens when it’s exposed. Evil’s strongest position is to have us believe we are the source of our own sorrow; there is no escaping ourselves. We gain strength by identifying Satan’s programming as an OUTSIDE influence which we can reject and from which we can walk away. Exposing and identifying evil as an outside force may be the first step in escaping it.
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.Ephesians 5:11
This may be why there are 12-step programs associated with many of the vices listed above. Why has the 12-step program been effective in helping many overcome addictions to self-destructive behaviors? The program embodies basic principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
To heal, we identify the vice that plagues us and acknowledge our reliance on God to help us remove it. We then ask for help to heal ourselves and our loved ones, who are often collateral victims. We then commit to live a new life wherein we stay connected to God and His power. The last step is to seek to help others who are so plagued.
I honor the fundamental lesson Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ teach us about exposing the darkness within us and using Christ’s atonement to becoming free and whole again. Our Heavenly Father can compensate for the darkness we experience on earth with a corresponding, or even greater, level of light and wisdom. It seems that Mary Magdalene earned well the opportunity to serve at Christ’s side.