Mary Magdalene: In His Service

My home is in Magdala on the west side of the Sea of Galilee. I am a cobbler, as was my father before me. My daughter, Mary Magdalene who is sixteen, works with me in the business. The customers all love Mary because she is genuinely interested in them. The fact that she looks like her mother only endears her to them more.

Her mother, Rebecca, and I were sweethearts when we were young. Our friendship waned during the years that boys had nothing to do with girls. But as we grew older, our love was renewed, and eventually we were married. I was glad our friendship had begun early in our lives; otherwise, I might not have won Rebecca, for she was the most beautiful girl in all the towns along the western side of the sea.

Rebecca worked beside me, she on the belts and I on the sandals. Occasionally I would watch her small, strong hands as she cut the leather. She would gently bite her tongue in her precision. Her soft lips and smooth complexion were nearly perfect. Her eyes glistened when she talked. I thanked Jehovah for his design of the curves that made her a woman. Heaven could be no better than living with Rebecca.

Soon after the second anniversary of our wedding, God blessed us with a baby girl. The name Mary sounded soft, so Rebecca and I agreed to call her Mary. In time she grew to look just like her mother, beautiful inside and out.

Rebecca’s closest friend was Salome, the wife of Zebedee and the mother of James and John. Salome lived in Capernaum, seven miles northeast of Magdala. Her husband and sons were commercial fishermen. Occasionally they would put in at Magdala to sell fish. When they did, they always shared the catch with my family. James and John were like older brothers to my daughter. They were the ones that first called her Mary Magdalene in order to distinguish her from the other Marys that they knew.

For years Rebecca suffered with seizures. The doctor told me he couldn’t rid Rebecca of the demons that caused them. So four years ago Rebecca died. Following Rebecca’s death, Salome had come by more often to spend time with Mary Magdalene talking with her as a mother would to a daughter. Two years ago my daughter had a brief seizure, and I asked Jehovah to heal her as I had for Rebecca. This time I sensed an answer--be patient.

As time went on, James and John came less often as they were spending time with Jesus. I had heard that Jesus had healed many people, so I asked James if Jesus could come and heal Mary Magdalene of her seizures.

A few weeks later, a visitor entered my cobbler shop. Mary Magdalene asked if she could help him, and he introduced himself saying, "My name is Jesus."

I stopped my work to look at him a little more closely. He was a large man with powerful shoulders and arms, yet he seemed gentle in composure. His eyes captured my attention when they met with my daughter’s. They were intense yet kind.

"James and John asked me to come," he said quietly.

"I’m so glad you have," Mary said, "They told me you could heal me."

"And you Mary, what do you believe?"

Mary looked down then up. Her eyes settled on his as she nodded her head, "Yes." Then Jesus, with a heart full of compassion, commanded the demons to come out.

Mary Magdalene’s lithe body quivered, not once, but seven times as the demons left. She stood relaxed for a moment. Then with complete abandonment, she threw her arms around the neck of Jesus to thank him.

After that, Mary Magdalene wasn’t home quite as much, as she traveled with a group of women who served Jesus. When spring arrived she told me that Jesus was going to go to Jerusalem for the Passover. She was worried about his safety and wanted to go with Salome to minister to him while he was there.

I told her, "If you feel in your heart that you should go, then you and he will be in my prayers daily."

So one morning she joined the small band of disciples headed for Jerusalem. Each day was lonely for me. It just wasn’t the same around the shop without her. I think I missed her enthusiasm most.

Ten days had passed when she returned with Salome. Salome was unable to stay as she had to reach Capernaum by sundown. After Salome had left, I asked what had happened to their friend Jesus.

"Oh, Father, it was awful. The Pharisees had the Romans crucify him. I was so glad I was able to be there with him. I stayed until he died and was placed in a tomb. The next day was the Sabbath. Before light on the third day, I went to the tomb with spices. When I got there I saw that the stone was rolled away."

"Was Jesus in the tomb?"

"No, when I looked in the tomb and saw that his body was gone I began to cry. In his place sat two angels, and they asked me, ‘Why are you weeping?’ ‘They have taken away my Lord,’ I said. Then when I turned, I saw Jesus, but I didn’t know it was Jesus until he called me by name. Then I knew it was him. His voice was gentle, but his eyes were firm when he said, ‘Tell my disciples that I have risen.’"

"Did you tell them?"

"I tried to but they wouldn’t believe me."

It was then that I took my daughter in my arms as I could feel the pain she must have felt to have watched her friend suffer and die. Tears flowed down my cheeks. The last time I had shed tears was at the death of Rebecca.

Mary, sensing my pain, reminded me that Rebecca had always believed in the coming Messiah and that now, since his death, she too would finally meet him. Her words of encouragement brought me comfort and deep down inside I knew she was right especially when she said the last words he spoke to her were, "I shall ascend to my father and your father, to my God and your God."

Based on Matthew 27:56; Mark 16; Luke 8; John 20

Copyright 1997 by John C. Westervelt

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