April 2008 - Vol. 18

Mary Magdalene

A Portrait of Love Stronger than Death

By Jeanne Kun

Set me as a seal upon your heart, 
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death.
 (Song of Solomon 8:6)


In the Old Testament, God’s love for his people was reflected in the covenant he made with them. The prophets often described this covenant as a betrothal or compared it to the relationship between a husband and his bride. In the New Testament, God’s covenant was fulfilled in Jesus, who is the fullness of the Father’s love: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Mary Magdalene’s love for Jesus knew no limits. She had experienced his love and its power when he drove seven demons away from her, and she responded with a grateful, loving heart. So great was her devotion to Jesus that she accompanied him as he went about his ministry and braved the horror of Golgotha to stand faithfully by him as he was crucified. Even when her beloved Lord was laid in the tomb, Mary’s love did not die. Indeed, her ardor grew more intense when his body was not to be found, and she sought it with longing.

Mary’s love was stronger than death, enduring beyond the grave. Her seeking and her love were rewarded with the appearance of her risen Lord  – and, ultimately, with the joy of beholding him and loving him forever in heaven.

Through Jesus Christ, God lavishes his love on each of us – and Mary Magdalene offers us an example of how to love him in return. When St. Bernard of Clairvaux was once asked why and how much God should be loved, he replied, “My answer is that God himself is the reason why he should be loved. As for how he is to be loved, there is to be no limit to that love.” May our love for Jesus be as limitless and as immeasurable as Mary’s! 

Read and prayerfully reflect on these additional Scripture passages that describe God’s love and the love of those who ardently long for him:

O God, thou art my God, I seek thee,
my soul thirsts for thee;
my flesh faints for thee,
as in a dry and weary land
where no water is.
So I have looked upon thee in the sanctuary,
beholding thy power and glory.
Because thy steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise thee.
So I will bless thee as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on thy name.
     (Psalm 63:l-4)
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
 my soul shall exult in my God;  
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, 
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, 
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, 
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as a young man marries a virgin, 
so shall your sons marry you, 
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, 
so shall your God rejoice over you.
     (Isaiah 61:10; 62:5)
And I will betroth you to me for ever; 
I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, 
in steadfast love, and in mercy. 
I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; 
and you shall know the LORD.
     (Hosea 2:19,20)
What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us?
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, 
will he not also give us all things with him? 
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? 
It is God who justifies; who is to condemn?
 Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, 
who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes  for us? 
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? 
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, 
or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors 
through him who loved us. 
For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,
nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, 
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
     (Romans 8:31-35,37-39)
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, 
that God sent his only Son into the world, 
so that we might live through him. 
In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us 
and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins. 
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, 
God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
     (1 John 4:9-12)
Jeanne Kun is a noted author and a senior woman leader in the Word of Life Community, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. 
(c) copyright 2008  The Sword of the Spirit
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