sermon preached by Dr. Jack Hyles
Who loved Jesus the most? I guess it is impossible to be dogmatic about this, and yet I would like to nominate Mary Magdalene. Oh, the argument could be presented concerning John, the beloved. Others would vote for the impetuous Peter. Perhaps votes would be cast for James, Andrew and others.
To this author, however, no person during the personal ministry of Christ had the devotion and love for Him as Mary Magdalene. She seems to have been more loyal and more faithful than the others, and our Lord seemed to give her privileges that others did not enjoy.
Why this great devotion? Of course, the answer must lie in the fact that God gave it to her. How was it developed and nourished? No one knows. There are those who think that she was a fallen women, yet the Scripture gives no verification of this fact. She was possessed of seven devils, the Bible says, but what devils are bigger than malice, envy, etc.?
There is absolutely no proof that she was a woman of the street, a prostitute or a harlot. Perhaps she was; perhaps she wasn’t. Who knows? Yet one thing is certain: she was really devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ! Let us examine her and her devotion.
1. She became more than saved.
How tragic it is that so many just get saved and that is all. We should want to have the most devotion possible for our Lord. Nothing but our best should be offered to Him. Mary Magdalene could not stop at just being saved or just being a good Christian. She wanted complete devotion given to her Christ.
2. Her devotion happened suddenly.
She springs on us in the Bible without warning. Those who have true friendships know that this is often the case. The kind of friend that would die for another finds that it often happens suddenly. The soul is suddenly knit. The tie is suddenly made. It is unexplainable, yet it is there. This, no doubt, means that God does it. How sacred this makes such devotion, such friendship.
3. She cared for the physical needs of Christ.
Luke 8:1-3 finds her being a servant. No sacrifice is too great; no gift is too precious; no task is too difficult when such devotion exists. Let us follow Mary Magdalene and examine her devotion. When Jesus died on the cross, we find she is still His servant, administering to His needs. It was Mary Magdalene who leaned against the sepulchre after He was buried. She came to the garden to pay respects to her Master.
It is also interesting to know that our Lord appeared to Mary Magdalene first after His resurrection. Why did Jesus appear to her first? Your imagination could fancy that it was because she would be happiest to see Him, and happy she was. Why was not this honor reserved for Peter, James, John or another? It is the opinion of this writer that Mary was His most devoted follower.
How beautiful that the supreme devotion should be given, not by the chosen twelve or one of the favorite few, but by a humble, grateful lady who simply would not be denied and who stayed by her Master to the end and even after the end.
4. She knew His soul.
It is a very interesting thing to know this story concerning Jesus and Mary Magdalene immediately following the resurrection. She supposes she is talking to the gardener as she converses with Christ. He then says one word, “Mary.” She then said, “Master.” There was something about the way He said, “Mary.” There was a soul relationship that existed. Remember that the disciples on the road to Emmaus walked for miles and recognized Christ only when He opened their eyes. The disciples fished for a long time and conversed with Christ at some length before they recognized Him. Leave it to Mary to know Him first. She did not recognize Him by His resurrection body, but her soul had recognized too much fellowship with His not to recognize Him by the way He said, “Mary.” How beautiful.
5. Her devotion did not stop at death.
Her devotion was too great for that. It continued on past His death, and we find her leaning against the sepulchre of her buried Lord. In these days of selfishness and coldness, it is wonderful to stumble occasionally across a relationship that is built upon the spiritual rather than the physical. Nothing, not even death, can stop such a relationship.
6. She was as close as His family.
“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.” (John 19:25) When Jesus came to death, His mother and His closest friends gathered around the cross. They were not all members of the family. See Mary Magdalene. She is true to the end. Maybe she knew Him better than others. Maybe she loved Him more. Who knows? Votes for the most devoted follower of Christ would be cast for many different New Testament characters. I vote for Mary Magdalene.