Some of the most precious words in all of Scripture are “and such were some of you” (1Corinthians 6:11, ESV). After listing categories of people who would not inherit the kingdom of God, Paul reminded the Corinthians that they, too, once fit in these categories. “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (v.11). The shame of their past lives had been redeemed and cleansed by the work of the Lord Jesus.
I cannot help but think of these words from 1 Corinthians 6 when I read the narrative of Mary Magdalene’s interactions with Jesus. When we meet Mary in Luke’s Gospel, she is with Jesus and the Twelve as He is “telling the good news of the kingdom of God” (Luke 8:1–2). From this passage, we’re told she was a woman from whom seven demons had gone out (v.2), which means that when she first encountered Jesus, she was demon-possessed. But now here she is, standing alongside Him as He preaches the good news.
Mary demonstrated the new life she had found in Jesus by her faithful service to Him. Mark reports that she was one of the women who “followed him and took care of him” (Mark 15:41). When Jesus hung on the tree, she did not abandon Him, but instead stood there watching with other women as her Lord gave His life (John 19:25). And before daybreak on the morning of the resurrection, she discovered that the stone sealing His tomb had been rolled away and ran to share the news with the disciples (John 20:1–2). After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to her and entrusted her with the task of telling the disciples about His impending ascension to the Father. She announced to them, “‘I have seen the Lord!’ And she told them what he had said to her” (vv.11–16,18).
Mary Magdalene’s sin and shame, whatever they may be, did not have the final word—God’s grace did. Mary met Jesus and He changed the trajectory of her life forever. He does the same for us. Have you been worried that God might not use you because of sin in your past? Are you afraid that people will hear you talk about Jesus and assume you are a hypocrite because of the things you did before you were a Christian? Look at Mary. Luke’s first words about her tell us what she once was, but look at what she became because of her Savior!
Mary met Jesus when she was demon-possessed, and after she was delivered of them, she followed Him faithfully. And when each of us first met Jesus, there was nothing particularly impressive about us; like everyone else, we were mired in sin and foolishness. What did He do? He washed us, saved us, justified us, and cleansed us. Now, as men who have been made new, we faithfully follow Him. We love Him, we serve Him, and we bear witness to His saving grace.
Written by Scott Slayton