About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
The Eyes Of Mary
Most of what you read in
the following paragraphs is based on Biblical history.
Most of the rest is based on well documented extra Biblical
history. Thus, the part of what you read that puts flesh and blood to
the skeleton of this story has a high probability of being accurate.
Despite the debate over John 8:1 - 11 being a legitimate part of
Scripture, the setting for the following is found therein.
Mary Magdalene was filled
with sympathy and compassion as she observed the commotion first hand.
She was flooded with sadness to see this young girl being dragged
down the stony street and thrown at the feet of Jesus.
The pain and anguish on the girl's face was clearly visible.
"I know that dreadful facial expression", Mary thought.
"She fears for her very
Rage consumed Mary as she
watched the whole episode unfold. "These
men esteem themselves to be the cream of the religious crop in
Everyone standing by was
well aware of the Law of Moses. Both
Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22 - 24 commanded that this young
girl be stoned to death; that's assuming she could be found guilty by
two or three witnesses. (Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15)
Mary could guess what really transpired here.
These guys probably set this young girl up.
It would have been prearranged.
One Pharisee would visit the girl the night before.
While having his way with her, three other Pharisees would drop
by to catch the girl, not the man, in the "very act of
adultery", as they would have put it.
So there you go. They
caught the guilty girl in the very act of sin and they have three
witnesses to prove it.
Mary was also quite
familiar with men like these Pharisees.
She knew what they liked, what they didn't like, and of course,
she knew what turned them on. Mary
was also familiar with the life of this teenager.
It mirrored who she once was; a young lady tangled in a web of
poverty, adultery, authority, and law.
Mary took a second look
at these hypocritical Pharisees. She
recalled Jesus calling them hypocrites and snakes, (Matthew 23:33) so
she felt in good company thinking of them in like fashion.
Most of these men had a liberal view of the divorce law as stated
in Deuteronomy 24:1 - 4. They
believed in free and easy divorce for any and every conceivable reason.
"How convenient", Mary thought.
"They liberalize the Law of the Lord to suit their own life
of lasciviousness". Jesus
had already confronted these guys on the issue of free and easy divorce,
(Matthew 19:1 - 12) and now He would get to the heart of the matter.
"It's legalized wife swapping.
That's the heart of the matter", Mary thought.
These men routinely divorced their wives for the sole purpose of
hooking up with the lady across the street.
Then, once they got tired of her, they searched for a
replacement. Of course, they
still visited the young girls in the back streets of their holy city of
Mary glanced over to the
teary eyed girl, and then turned her attention to Jesus.
She wondered how He'd get out of this one.
Jesus preached forgiveness of sins, but how could he extend
forgiveness to this girl when the command said stone her.
The Pharisees hoped that Jesus would specifically say
"I forgive you". That
would be a capital crime, punishable by death.
Only God could forgive sin, and these men sure didn't believe
Jesus wasn't God. They'd
gladly exchange the death of this girl for the death of Jesus.
In arrogance, the
Pharisees stood tall. With
arms crossed over their outward extended chests, they looked down to the
girl on the ground and then looked over to Jesus.
They knew Jesus couldn't escape this trap, but Mary knew better.
Jesus was no fool. These
men had failed numerous times in the past to trap Jesus in matters of
the Law of Moses. This time
would be no different. They'd
soon give up trying to legally trap Jesus.
They'd simply lay the law aside, arrest, convict, and condemn Him
Although Jesus had a
quiet disposition, which was now quite evident as He stood before the
Pharisees in silence, He was capable of standing up to the toughest of
guys. He was no wimp.
He proved that when He threw the heavy wooden money changers
tables over in the temple. Jesus
wasn't a weakling either. As
a carpenter, He had spent close to two decades hauling around big slabs
of limestone and heavy wooden planks.
Let's be realistic. Jesus
had his share of muscles.
As Mary stepped back, she
waited for Jesus' response, but He remained silent.
The Pharisees felt completely in control now.
They interpreted His silence to be defeat, but again, Mary knew
better. She would later
learn that Pilate, the Roman governor of the
Mary had seen it all
before. The Pharisees didn't
really want this girl dead. The
blunt and honest truth of the matter was that they'd rather see her lie
in bed than lie dead on the street.
They had no intention of stoning her.
She just happened to be a trapper's legal tool of choice that
day. Besides, they viewed
their association with her as a humanitarian effort.
They supported her and she serviced them.
In the end, everyone wins, or so they thought.
Mary had seen such things back in her home town.
She was known as Mary Magdalene because
she lived in Magdala, in the
The name Mary was a
popular name among Israeli women back then.
In fact there are six other women named Mary found in the New
Testament. Of course, there
was Mary the mother of Jesus. There
was Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus. (John 11)
There was Mary the mother of Joses who witnessed Jesus' death and
resurrection. (Mark 15:47, 16:1 - 8)
Beyond these Mary's, there was Mary the mother of John Mark who
wrote the gospel of Mark (Acts 12:12) and Mary who lived in
We can safely assume that
Mary of Magdala was born into poverty since few young Israeli girls
aspired to become a prostitute. She
would have been looked down upon on two counts.
She was a prostitute and she was a Galilean.
For this reason she was viewed as the scum of the earth by those
affluent Israelis in
Mary was a bit impatient
as she glanced at Jesus. She wondered why He was being silent for so
long. She recalled a similar
occasion back in Galilee. A Pharisee named Simon
invited Jesus to his house for lunch. (Luke 7:36 - 50)
"Here goes again", Mary recollected.
"This guy has ulterior motives".
Simon and Jesus weren't
good buddies talking about old times over a goblet of wine and some
spiced bread. This was a
working lunch for Simon. He
was just one more Pharisee in a long line of lunatics, as Mary viewed
them, attempting to trap Jesus in tedious legalities.
Mary wondered if this was becoming some kind of game for these
As usual, Jesus'
followers accompanied Him everywhere He went, and Mary was no exception.
The Jewish culture of community was well apparent at this lunch.
Many others were crowded into the room, including a well known
prostitute, who by the way, seemed to be quite comfortable in Simon's
interesting", Mary recalled thinking.
"Was the young girl another pawn in the palms of the
she wasn't. Mary cringed as
she watched this young lady stoop down at Jesus' feet.
This was no Pharisaical scam.
This girl shed real tears as she washed Jesus' feet with perfume
she would have used in her line of work.
Then, she dried His feet with her hair.
Mary noted the expression of disgust on Simon's face as he
watched this outburst of affection.
In a torrent of rage,
Simon snarled at Jesus. "How
can you in all godly honesty allow this filthy woman to touch you"?
"I'm sure this
so-called filthy woman has touched you Simon", Mary remembered
thinking. As quickly as that
disgusting thought came to Mary's mind it was interrupted by some
gracious words from the lips of Jesus.
"You are forgiven. Your
faith has saved you". Upon
hearing these words, the light bulb of revelation lit up Mary's mind.
This girl was forgiven because she had faith in Jesus, which was
clearly evident by her good deed done to Him.
Mary clearly understood that forgiveness was predicated upon the
fact that one must have faith. Then,
it dawned on her. As John
the Baptist preached, one must repent before one can exhibit real faith.
First comes repentance, then faith, and then forgiveness.
We don't know a lot about
Mary Magdalene's past life. She
probably wasn't a regular synagogue goer once she began working the
streets. One thing we do
know is that Jesus healed her of some kind of illness and cast seven
demons out of her. (Luke 8:1 - 2) The
fact that Jesus healed Mary might suggest that she had some kind of
illness, an illness that might have been an occupational hazard.
Whatever the case, now whole, healthy, and forgiven, she stood
before Jesus, eagerly anticipating another memorable moment.
The Pharisees grew
restless. They made the
young prostitute stand to her feet.
"Come on Jesus. What's
your verdict? We haven't got
all day". Mary knew
Jesus wouldn't respond to the snap of the Pharisees fingers.
He was the one in control here, not them.
So, to intentionally slow down the pace even more, Jesus took His
own sweet time and knelt down to the ground and began to write in the
sand. Mary smiled.
"Make them squirm a bit Jesus", she thought.
One could never
anticipate what Jesus would do in a situation like this.
He had done some weird things, like spitting on the dirt and
pushing the moistened spit filled mud into a blind man's eyes. (John
9:6) That turned Mary's
stomach, but she had to admit, the results were amazing.
The deafening silence
finally broke. Jesus looked
up, perused the faces of the Pharisees, and then calmly but pointedly
pronounced, "If any of you are without sin, you cast the first
these few words Jesus had cornered these guys.
They were speechless.
This one was worth waiting for", Mary thought as she
observed Jesus writing something else in the sand.
She was now more curious than ever about what He was writing, but
she dared not get any closer for fear of spoiling the moment.
Mary now expected Jesus
to forgive this poor girl. She
knew all about being forgiven, but she also knew that forgiveness wasn't
the end of the matter. Although
her thinking was fuzzy on the matter, she recalled Jesus saying
something about His disciples receiving the Holy Spirit once He was
glorified. (John 7:39) She
was unsure what glorified meant, but she knew that receiving the Holy
Spirit had something to do with being forgiven.
Mary would later learn
that after Jesus rose from the dead, He suddenly appeared out of thin
air to His eleven chosen apostles who were hiding behind locked doors.
As they stood in stunned silence, He walked over to them,
breathed on them, and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
As my Father has sent me, I'm sending you". (John 20:22)
This symbolic gesture would find its fulfillment a few weeks
later in the lives of the disciples. (Acts 2) Jesus
specifically told His disciples to wait in
As Mary watched Jesus
writing in the sand, she saw the Pharisees leaving.
Strangely enough, they left one by one in descending order of
age, from the oldest to the youngest.
Whatever Jesus wrote in the sand, and Christians have pondered
over this for centuries. Jesus outsmarted the Pharisees again.
Mary did her best to hold back her laughter.
As the Pharisees walked
by Mary in defeat, one of them looked her over and stared her down.
"I've heard rumors about you and Jesus", he said with a
hint of cynicism. Mary knew
of these rumors, but in the midst of this memorable moment, she sure
didn't need to be reminded of them.
One thing Mary didn't know is that these rumors would be
associated with her name throughout history.
"I've heard rumors
about you too", Mary thought as she peered at this Pharisee with
eyes aflame with holy indignation.
The Pharisees were known
to spread their share of rumors, one of which has been believed by many
to this very day. They
bribed the temple guards who kept watch over the tomb where Jesus was
buried. In exchange for a
sum of money, the guards claimed they fell asleep, and while sleeping,
the disciples stole Jesus' body.
In other words, the guards were well paid to take the fall for
the disappearance of Jesus' body. This
became the official temple press release. (Matthew 28:13)
So there you go again. Money,
bribes, and lies, rule the day in the hallowed halls of power and
There's no doubt that
Mary was attracted to Jesus but her attraction had nothing to do with
romance. Jesus was far from
being the most handsome guy in town.
There was nothing about His outward appearance that would cause a
young girl to go all google-eyed over Him. (Isaiah 53:2)
No, Mary wasn't attracted to Jesus romantically. It
was His divine presence that drew her to Him.
She had never met anyone that was so divinely captivating.
That made complete sense. The
Almighty Lord God, or, Yahweh Elohim, as she might have put it, had
entered her life. The Son of
God who the Pharisees rejected was Son of God who Mary embraced.
After Jesus' public
humiliation of the Pharisees, they headed back to the temple with even
greater resolve to get Him. This
embarrassment did little for their public persona.
So, before long, their lawful attempts to trap Jesus would become
unlawful. Lawfully or
unlawfully, they had now determined to do Jesus in for good. They
wanted Him dead.
Mary's eyes were fixated
on Jesus as He now gave His full attention to the young prostitute.
Mary was sure "I forgive you" would be the next words
uttered from Jesus, but technically speaking, that wasn't exactly the
case. With tender hearted
compassion, Jesus asked the girl, "Where are your accusers?
Has no one condemned you"?
Mary thought. "Jesus
has just asked her a question that will cause her to reflect on what has
just happened". More
than any words Jesus could have spoken, and He didn't say much, He had
turned a negative nasty experience into a positive learning experience.
Mary realized what much of our modern church doesn't realize, and
that's people learn more by what they experience than by what they hear
in a sermon. Words are easy
to say. Walking one through
his trials isn't so easy. All
the sermons in the world could not have changed this girl's life as was
the case when Jesus walked through this experience with her.
As is often the case in
today's ecclesiastical world, Mary was used to the religious leaders
standing before crowds. They
would teach the Law with such eloquence that it would make any Greek
philosopher sit up and notice. Their
impressive prayers were merely for show. (Matthew 6:5 - 8) These
guys gloated in the glory of being in the spotlight.
did teach the masses, but for those to whom He gave Himself, He walked
through life with them. By
so doing, His disciples would learn more than a thousand sermons could
teach them. Of course,
walking through life with someone doesn't put you in the limelight, but
I tell you this, this prostitute sure benefited from Jesus taking the
time to walk through this part of her life.
I'm sure this girl was
now greatly relieved, although still shocked and seriously shaken up.
She had been set up, sexually abused, dragged down a stony
street, thrown at the feet of Jesus, and condemned to death.
I'd suggest that's a bit nerve racking.
Now, as her voice quivered, she stumbled over her reply.
"N … n … no … no one, s … s ... sir".
Jesus had completely disarmed her opponents.
Not one of them was left standing.
It was just her and Jesus.
Mary was awe struck.
"Just her and Jesus", she thought.
Not wanting to intrude on this sacred scene, she stepped back.
As important as the
community of believers are to disciples of Jesus, let's never forget,
nothing replaces me and Jesus. If
me and Jesus isn't working, community won't work either.
This was clearly one of those me and Jesus moments.
This sinner now stood spellbound in the immediate presence of the
Son of the Almighty God. She
would never, and I mean never, be the same.
The girl was speechless.
What else could she do or say, but nervously answer Jesus with
three words. "No one,
sir". That was it; just
three little words. "No
one, sir". Most can't
begin to imagine how she felt at this precise moment, but Mary certainly
could. Jesus had walked the
same mile with her just a year or so earlier. Mary
did benefit from listening to Jesus teach from the hillsides.
There's no doubt about that, but most of all, she benefited from
Jesus walking through life's experiences with her.
Only then did the hillside sermons become reality in her life.
As gracefully as she
could, Mary stepped back again. Those
around her did the same. Everyone
was silent. No one dared to
disturb or disrupt this me and Jesus moment.
Let's not be mistaken,
teaching is important, but it's more productive when accompanied by
walking out what is being taught with others in the experiences of life.
The words that Jesus would say next would seal the life lesson
Jesus wanted this girl to learn.
As Jesus glanced down the
street to see the last Pharisee disappear from sight, He focused His
attention back onto the young and still nervous prostitute.
"Neither do I condemn you", He said.
Again, it didn't take many words, but these five words turned a
sinner into a saint, and that without the recommendation of a pope.
Before Mary could ponder
these words over Jesus added, "Go and sin no more".
Jesus wouldn't let her off the hook.
The Greek active imperative verb tense of "go and sin no
more" tells us that in no uncertain terms this young lady must stop
prostituting herself, even if it was her livelihood. This
was not cheap grace. She was
not to take the love of the Lord for granted.
The designation of saint comes with certain responsibilities,
which includes stop sinning.
Mary was living one day
at a time, as were all of the disciples.
No one really knew what to expect from one day to the next.
The one thing they did expect was more trouble from the religious
establishment. The conflict
between Jesus and the Pharisees was escalating to the extent that Jesus
was now talking about His death. The
men, especially Peter, rejected such talk. The
women, however, intuitively knew something horrific was about to happen.
Little did Mary realize
at the time but she'd soon be thrown into a fearful depression.
The day would come when she would stand at the foot of a Roman
cross. (John 19:25) There,
she would be hit with a sickening sadness.
With tear drenched cheeks she'd see the naked and bloody body of
her beloved Lord. Despite
all the paintings you've seen of Jesus wearing a loin cloth while on the
cross, that wasn't the case. Romans
stripped both men and women naked prior to execution.
Mary would no longer be able to handle this ugly and degrading
sight. She would look away.
The prophet Isaiah rightly predicted that Jesus' physical body
would be so disfigured and marred that it would have no resemblance of
any human likeness or form. (Isaiah 52:14)
Isaiah also predicted
that in the process of being punished on behalf of every individual who
has ever lived, or ever will live, Jesus would be beaten, pierced.
smitten, afflicted, and crushed to death. (Isaiah 53:4 - 5)
The Apostle Paul would later teach that Jesus was not only
punished for our sins but He Himself actually became sin. (2 Corinthians
5:21) No wonder Jesus'
appearance was disfigured beyond human recognition.
It was riddled with sin.
You might think that
things could not get any worse for Mary, but that's not so.
Three days later she'd be devastated to see an empty tomb. (John
20:1 - 18) "How could
they be so cruel to steal a dead man's body", she would think.
To make sure her chaotic
emotions weren't playing tricks on her she would take another look in
the tomb. She'd then wonder
if she was going insane when seeing two angels.
To make sure her chaotic
emotions weren't playing tricks on her she would take another look in
the tomb. She'd then wonder
if she was going insane when seeing two angels.
"Why are you crying
Mary"? Jesus has risen
from the dead", the angels would tell Mary.
Stunned by this turn of
events, Mary would turn around to hear, "It's me Mary".
By now Mary would have
been an emotional wreck. There's
no way that you or I could begin to feel what Mary would have just felt.
She was about to give Jesus the biggest hug He'd ever receive but
Jesus said, "Not yet
Mary. I haven't returned to my Father". What
that meant Mary probably would not have known, but that wouldn't matter.
She'd be happy to just have Jesus back in her life.
As Mary watched the young
former prostitute walk away she wonders how this girl could stop
sinning. Mary would soon
learn the answer to her query. After
the dust had settled a bit Jesus would tell His disciples to stay in
Acts 1:14 tells us that
"Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the other women" were in the
upper room when the Holy Spirit fell on the believers.
I'm sure Mary Magdalene was one of these other women.
I'd like to think that this former prostitute might have been one
of these other women as well. Only
after receiving the Holy Spirit could Jesus' words to sin no more be
realized in her life.
To be Biblically
accurate, nowhere in the New Testament does it specifically say that
Mary Magdalene was once a prostitute.
Mary's past life has been debated by Bible teachers for
centuries. The debate
concerns the identity of the sinful woman who most all view as a
prostitute in Luke 7:36 - 50. Whether
this woman was Mary Magdalene or someone else, we really don't know for
sure. So, I cannot
dogmatically say that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute.
However, I have chosen to fall on the side that she was for the
sake of this account.
We never see the forgiven
prostitute of John 8 again after Jesus tells her to go and sin no more.
We lose track of Mary Magdalene after the day of Pentecost.
There have been attempts over the centuries to link Mary to Jesus
in marriage to discredit both His death and resurrection.
I'm sure Mary would have returned to