The young lady stared blankly at the dust, her mind like a tornado. What was coming for her now? What would her future hold? Her short future, she amended, for she had been caught in one of the most hated sins. Next, she was rushed out and given into the hands of the Sanhedrin, who promptly marched her into the temple and threw her into the dust at someone’s feet. “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” (John 8:4-5) Jesus, the one she had heard so much about, who was the talk of the town. That’s who they had brought her to. She didn’t dare lift her head; however, when she heard nothing but silence, she tilted her head just a little and saw Jesus—writing in the dirt. “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first,” He stated to her captors, then continued writing. They leaned over to see what He was doing, as did she—and to their astonishment, saw that Jesus was writing their own secret sins. Embarrassed and ashamed, the Pharisees quickly left, leaving her alone with Jesus. She looked into His eyes for the very first time, as He forgave her and bade her to not sin any more.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the story of Mary recently. Though victory can always be obtained through Jesus, it is often a struggle. We know that this girl found it to be so, for many Bible scholars agree that this girl, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus are all the same person. As Luke indicates, seven times Mary was forgiven by Jesus before obtaining victory from adultery (Luke 8:2-3). He never gave up on her. Ever.
At her first meeting with Jesus, Mary saw in Him someone she could trust, someone who loved her—not romantically, but from the heart. She saw true Love, a Love that would give its life for a frail sinful one like her if it could get her into heaven. Mary spent the rest of Jesus’ three years in ministry as one of His closest companions. Luke mentions her as one of Jesus’ closest followers—unheard of at the time, for women did not typically travel with a rabbi as Mary and several others did with Jesus (Luke 8:2-3). Several times Jesus stopped at the house of Mary and her siblings, Martha and Lazarus, for He found there a place He could rest and escape from constant opposition. It was Mary who anointed His feet with perfume. And it was Mary—not any of His disciples—that Jesus first appeared to after His resurrection.
By Beholding We Can Be Changed
What was special about this girl? Certainly, she was not perfect. But her sins didn’t matter, for Jesus readily offered forgiveness to her, as He does to everyone, and she accepted it. This girl was different in that because she spent so much time with Jesus, she became, in a way, like Him. She enjoyed being around the One who was, literally, her Savior.
And so can we. Our past doesn’t matter to God, the great Forgiver. But if we study His word, if we pray, we will draw close to Him and become like Him. We will lose interest in our sins, and will finally be able to forsake them altogether. We can arise, and go to Jesus.
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms.
(From “Come, Ye Sinners” by Joseph Hart)