Miles to go...

I have miles to go... please pray each day for the next leg of my Biblical journey!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 73: A Composite Of Marys

Mary Magdalene by Giovanni Bellini circa 1490

Luke 7:36-38

New Living Translation (NLT)

Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman

36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat.37 When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. 38 Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.


If I were to guess, I'd venture that no woman in the Bible is surrounded by more mystery and intrigue than Mary Magdalene. Mary was such a common name that she was often confused with other women; Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary the sister of Martha, Mary some mythological "wife" of the Messiah. (Jesus was never married, and I've never cared enough to research the origin of that cultish belief.) Last names weren't given in Scripture, and women, in particular, were rarely identified by family.

Our only real clue to Mary's identity is "Magdalene". Since we know Magdalene is not a surname, we must assume it refers to where she came from. Magdala was a fishing community about 120 miles north of Jerusalem on the shore of Galilee. At least one Jewish text, Lamentations Raba, declares that the town was destroyed by God because of rampant sexual sin. This was during a time under Roman Imperial rule, and families were often under such heavy tax burdens that they were forced to sell their children into slavery. Brothels were abundant throughout the Mediterranean region during this period in history, as well, so when you take all those factors and roll them into one big ball, it is easy to see how the modern day picture of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute began to take shape.

The truth is, Mary Magdalene is mentioned in all four Gospels, but is never once referred to as a hooker, nor are any specific sins ever associated with her. And she is most certainly not named as the woman of ill repute who washed the feet of Christ with tears and anointed Him with precious essential oil at the home of Simon the Pharisee.

(When Jesus realized Simon's disgust at the woman, He told Simon that a person who is forgiven much, loves much. In the parable, he implied the value of the prostitute at his feet was ten times greater that of the hypocrite serving him dinner.)

Aside from where she was from, we know only that Jesus had cast 7 demons from her at one time, that she was a follower of Jesus through His ministry, and was one of the women who discovered His empty tomb.

Having said all that, I am going to share (yet another) lyric I once wrote. The poem should not be taken as anything other than a fictional work, a composite of women who may or may not have been named Mary. But like the legend of Mary Magdalene, it is a tale of great sin, deep sorrow, sincere repentance, and absolute redemption. It is a story of a woman who is valued little by society, but who is valued greatly by her Redeemer. This rendition follows a woman from infancy to adulthood, showing the pattern of events that shaped her life.

So, without further ado...

Magdala Inn

Father, oh father,
Why have you forsaken me?
Where is my shelter from this storm?

He was only a shadow
of the man he'd once been,
a fisherman of high esteem.
He stood there in front
of the Magdala Inn,
reflecting on his broken dream.
His wife and his daughter
had brought joy to his hearth,
and prestige among his friends...
but his lover, his lady,
she'd died giving birth
to a beautiful set of twins...
and he cried...

Father, oh Father,

Why have you forsaken me?

Where is my shelter from this storm?

It is written
that pride goes before the fall,
and a proud man he was, no doubt...
refusing charity,
though he'd lost it all,
the man gave them up and walked out
as the children cried...
father, oh father,

why have you forsaken me?

where is my shelter from this storm?

Mary worked at the Magdala Inn,
where she'd been since she was a child.
She'd grown into a ravenous beauty
since the day she'd first been defiled.
She was held in reserve
for the wealthiest of men
who traveled through the town of Magdala...
the lowly prostitute,
princess of the Inn,
dressed in the finest regalia.

She had scented oils,
and silks and linen,
the best that money could buy...
but nobody knew what raged within,
and nobody heard her cry...

father, oh father,

why have you forsaken me?

where is my shelter from this storm?

Then came a man,
a prophet, some said,
called Jesus the Nazarene...
and despite the objections
from the apostles He led,
He touched her,
and washed her past clean.

She followed Him faithfully
for years to come,
having finally found peace inside.
Then she stood at the foot
of the cross where He hung,
and she heard Him as He cried...

Father, oh Father,

Why have you forsaken me?

Where is my shelter from this storm?

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