Peter And Mary Magdalene

Mark 16:7

            Mark 16:7 has long been one of my favorite texts of Scripture. Peter, no doubt, thought things could never be the same between him and the Master again. “How could a man who has behaved so vilely as I have ever again enjoy the sweet smile of his face and the blessed embrace of his grace,” the fallen disciple must have thought to himself. But the Son of God takes great care that Peter be told that nothing had changed, would change, or could change between them! What grace! What mercy! What forgiveness! What a Savior! He who is God our Savior forgives his people of all their sins absolutely and without qualification.

Certainly this is evident in the heart of every sinner who has experienced it. It is evident in his many gracious displays of grace and forgiveness set before us in the gospel narratives. But I think there is no better picture of forgiveness than that we have before us in the Lord’s dealings with the apostle Peter and “Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.”

            The Lord Jesus did not first appear to his mother Mary, or to John the Beloved. No. “He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.” This seems to be to be a remarkable fact, full of instruction; and he sent an angel to her with a specific message of mercy for Peter.

Here the Holy Spirit shows us by example what we are taught throughout the Scriptures. – Salvation is a matter of absolute, free, unconditional grace. Because salvation is, in its entirety, a matter of free grace, in no way conditioned and dependent upon, or determined by us, all who are saved by grace stand upon an equal footing before God.

In Christ there is no difference between saved virgins and saved harlots, saved scholars and saved sots, saved Pharisees and saved pushers, saved princes and saved paupers. “God is no respecter of persons.” In Christ, we are all equal. The last is first and the first is last. We are all forgiven of all sin. We all possess perfect righteousness. We all have all grace. Christ is all in all to all who believe (1 Cor. 1:30-31; Col. 3:10-11).

The fact that our Lord Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene also teaches us that God honors those who honor him (1 Sam. 2:30). Mary had anointed the Lord for his burial in anticipation of his resurrection. Mary was the last one to confess Christ when he was alive and the first to honor him when he died. Mary was the last one at the cross and the first one at the tomb. And Mary was the first one to see the risen Lord!

Our Lord appeared first to Mary to teach us that He is the Savior of needy sinners. Christ came into the world to save sinners. And when he saves sinners, he saves them! The Son of God makes great saints out of great sinners. Those who were once filled with seven devils, he fills with his Holy Spirit. Those who were once far off, he brings nigh. Those who were the filth and off-scouring of the earth, he makes to be the sons of God. Those who once sat as beggars in the dung heap of fallen humanity, he lifts by his grace and sets them among princes. Our sins and iniquities he remembers no more.

Don Fortner