Mary of Magdela

During an impromptu break from homework, I decided to research the meaning of my name.

Madison is derived from several other names – including Matthew, Matilda, and Madeline. I remembering looking it up when I was in 3rd grade, after I was traumatized to discover that there was another Madison, a boy Madison, in my class. After my parents emphatically told me that I do not have a boys name, that he’s the one who should be embarrassed for having a girl’s name, I resolved to look up the meaning. You can imagine my disheartenment when the first thing that popped up was “Madison, boy: son of Matthew.” Not only did I have to go by Madison M. because there was a fellow, male Madison A. in my class, which was the focus of a good many, poorly thought out 3rd grade jokes, but my name barely had a meaning. But now, after refusing to be disillusioned by the initial search results, I’ve found that the meaning of Madison includes “daughter of a mighty warrior,” “gift of the Lord,” and “mighty in battle.” The name Maddie also means “maiden of Magdela.”

Which, of course, got me thinking about Mary Magedelene.

Mary Magdelene stayed at the foot of the cross. People who knew the depth of the love of Christ stayed at the cross. Mary had been healed from seven demons (Luke 8); she had come face to face with the power and grace of God and she was forever changed by it. It was her sin that helped pin Christ the very cross she gazed upon, so she stayed. It was my sin.

And as soon as I forget that, as soon as repentance and confession are forgotten in my daily life, I don’t think I need to be at the foot of the cross. I forget that the powers of darkness won on Good Friday so that they could never win again after Christ’s victorious resurrection. And when I forget, my life looks less like Mary Magdelene’s unyielding devotion and more like Peter’s fearful running. Focusing on the things and people and power in this world and not on Jesus.

But what is so amazing about the love of Christ is that despite the fact Peter let his eyes look elsewhere, there was still room for him at the feet of Jesus. There is always room for those who want to repent and worship a risen Christ. Jesus never stops asking, “do you love me?” In every circumstance that our El Roi sees us in, He asks if we love him – and He already knows the answer rooted in our hearts.

Wherever you are right now, He sees you. Whether you feel like Mary Magdelene at the foot of the cross and the empty tomb, or like Peter fearfully warming himself by the fire in Jerusalem or during breakfast on the shore, Jesus sees you.

What is so amazing to me is that the pain of the cross leads right into the joy of the resurrection. We can’t have the fullness of joy in a risen Christ without realizing the sins that necessitated the death of Jesus in the first place. Because it is when we realize it, when the posture of our hearts is repentance, we see the love of Christ in paying the penalty that we deserved. We become dependent on His love and power and grace. And His joy becomes our strength.

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Realizing that God is El Roi, the God who sees us, and that Jesus was an actual human man have really profound implications. I think about the fact that Jesus walked around for three years with a group of twelve guys. I see how my guy friends interact; their conversations and actions make me laugh. I can imagine the joy and laughter among the disciples. I think about how my parents demonstrate love to each other, sometimes quietly, but mostly with expressive words and actions. Granted, there is a time for quiet and reverent and serious. I imagine that not many words were exchanged between the eleven disciples on the sabbath following Good Friday.

But we shouldn’t discount the value of passionate repentance, love, and joy. It’s not always quiet. It’s not always serious. Because for as much as the Lord was beaten and bruised and suffered for all of the thoughts and actions of our flesh, the things we deserved to pay the penalty for, is as much as He is a risen Christ who delights in speaking our name and calling us His.

Zephaniah 3:17; Psalm 147:11; Psalm 43:4; Psalm 63:3; Luke 15:10

“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. . .” Romans 5:8

Let us not forget that Christ died while we were running from Him. He pursued us as we chased after everything else but Him. There was nothing about us that warranted His love and grace. And when we don’t realize the depth of our sin, we can’t realize the depth of love and joy included in the death and resurrection of Christ.

While Mary was at the foot of the cross, she was also the one who Jesus appeared to at the tomb. He said her name. He saw her. I imagine they were both smiling. And despite the fact that he wasn’t looking at Jesus during the crucifixion, Peter saw the love and redemption of His Lord on the shore that morning. I wonder if there were any inside jokes exchanged that aren’t recorded in Scripture.

This Easter, I’ve realized the tangible reminder that my very name is. To have Mary Magdelene’s joy in the resurrection, I have to realize the love of Christ for me on the cross. And the only thing that keeps me at the foot of the cross is the fact that I have been and am being forgiven and healed of so much.

Let us not forget the necessity of repentance and the reality of of the God who died, rose, and delights in seeing us.

Hallelujah.

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