God Uses the Unlikely
Luke 8:1-3, KJV, “And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God; and the twelve were with him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils; and Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
Who was this woman, Mary Magdalene, who is mentioned 12 times in the New Testament; more times than most of the apostles, and more than any other woman in the Gospels, other than Jesus’ family?
Why was this woman so important? What made her such an integral part of the Gospel that she is mentioned more than any other woman during that time? We don’t know for sure exactly who she was because the bible never specifically tells us. So we can only speculate of who she was. Some speculate that she was a prostitute. Others say she was a wealthy leader in the community.
I’m going to tell you why I think Mary Magdalene was a prostitute and why this is the reason she is mentioned so many times in the Gospel. In verse 2 it states, “…who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities….”.
Merriam Webster dictionary describes infirmity as the following:
1) quality or state of being; condition of being feeble; disease; malady; personal failing
The definition of infirmity from 1828 describes it as this:
1) an unsound or unhealthy state of the body; weakness; feebleness
2) weakness of mind; failing; fault; foible
3) weakness of resolution
4) any particular disease; malady; applied rather to chronic than to violent diseases
5) defect; imperfection, as the infirmities of a constitution of government
To me, infirmity implies there was a personal weakness and failing here; a weakness of resolution. So what was that weakness and personal failing? If this woman was a wealthy leader of the community, why would the people of that time be following or uplifting a woman with a personal failure or weakness?
At that time it was rare for women to be in positions of leadership or on par with men, and especially not women who had some type of personal failure or weakness.; a man, maybe, but surely not a woman.
Look what they wanted to do with the woman caught in adultery – they wanted to stone her. But where was the man whom she was caught with? He was never even mentioned? Nobody was trying to stone him – only the woman.
And yet, we are to believe that Mary Magdalene, a woman with an infirmity, a personal failure or weakness was some prominent woman in the community?
Verse 2 goes on to say, “….Mary Magdalene – from whom sevon demons were cast out….”. First off, how many wealthy, prominent leaders do you know of that are going up to the alter for deliverance to get seven demons cast out of them?
No, this is a person who doesn’t have a reputation to lose. This is a person who is desperate. They don’t care what people think of them. They are so tired of being in bondage; so tired of being used and abused; so tired of never feeling like they belong; so tired of never feeling loved; that they no longer care what people think.
They just want to be free of this bondage. And the seven demons cast out is key.
It indicates that this person had tried to get free before. She wasn’t just some whorish prostitute who loved sleeping with men for money. I believe she was a person who loved God, who was searching for love - searching to belong.
But somehow could never find it. Somehow always came up empty. A person who was searching to know God, but had more questions than answers. And instead of a person listening intently to her pain, seeing her emptiness; instead of a person being a friend to her, to truly care about her soul - instead took advantage of this emptiness and longing to be loved.
And so she traded her body for love….that she didn’t get.
And when that person was done using her she went looking again in an attempt to be loved, but instead of finding someone who saw her for her intricate value, she found yet another man who offered her compliments and deceptive love….only for one reason; to get what they wanted from her.
And so once again she traded her body for love….that she didn’t get.
But still she kept looking for love in another man’s bed, thinking surely this man loves me, only to be deceived by his kind gestures once again. And after doing this so many times, her heart became hardened and she decided she would no longer look for love. She would no longer be the one played, but next time she would play the games. She would play these men like a fiddle, and she would get want she wanted from these men. She would be the one using them for their money.
And so Mary Magdalene, the woman who was looking for love…became a prostitute.
She believed the devil's lies that somehow she could toy with sin and stay in control. But with each sexual encounter a part of her soul was taken from her, and the spirits of lust that were in these men began to occupy themselves inside of her.
And instead of feeling empowered by taking these men’s money she began to lose pieces of herself. She began to feel devalued. She began to lose her identity and she found herself doing things that she never thought or imagined she would do.
Men used her, and some abused her. All were mesmerized by her and wanted her, but none loved her…and so eventually after they got what they wanted they all discarded her.
And so there she was, a fragment of the woman she used to be. So she decided she was going to leave this lifestyle and make a change. And so she did.
But as time went by and she couldn’t find a job because no one wanted to hire her because of her reputation and what they thought was a lack of qualified skills (according to them); and because deep inside she had a longing for something real that fulfilled her passion; and because she had an emptiness inside of her that needed to be filled with something genuine…..but wasn’t, she went back to what she knew to fill the void.
And the condition of that woman was worse than when she started. Matthew 12:43-45, NIV, “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”
I believe Mary Magdalene was a woman who had a pure heart and desire to be loved, but in an attempt to find that love she came up empty and ended up trying to fulfill it in profane ways that caused her soul to become wounded. And out of that wound, offense, anger, bitterness and even perversion entered, which opened the door for all kinds of spirits to enter into her.
And she became bound by this cycle that no matter what she did, she couldn’t seem to break out of. That was until she met a man named Jesus. And not only did he free her from this bondage, but she finally found a man who loved her; who truly saw her for the woman she was. The woman who had gifting and talents, and he appreciated and valued these giftings and had a place for her to use these talents.
And the best part was, he didn’t want anything back from her. He just wanted her to be the person she was created to be.
And this is why we see Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross when everyone else had abandoned him. When even Peter, the man whom was called the rock of the church, had abandoned Christ at his time of greatest need, this woman, Mary Magdalene, stood by his side.
Only a woman who has suffered greatly; only a woman who knows what it’s like to be rejected over and over again; only a woman who knows what it’s like to be alone at your time of greatest need; only a woman who has known great pain; only a woman who has been delivered of bondage and forgiven much will love this much.
And this is why this woman, a prostitute, was at the foot of the cross while he was dying. This is why she was willing to risk her life by being seen with him in this moment, when everyone else was too afraid and abandoned him. This is why she gave up everything to follow him. This is why she took all her money and supported his ministry.
Because love and forgiveness is powerful. She had been looking her whole life for it….and she finally found it in Christ.
When he delivered her from feeling unloved.