Slideshow image



Now David spoke the words of this song to the Lord on the day that the Lord had saved him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my savior, you save me from violence”—2 Samuel 22:1-3 NASB  

King David has been delivered out of the hands of his worst enemy, King Saul. Saul was particularly dangerous because at times he pretended to be a friend to David. But David realized that God was his foundation and fortress that would protect him and deliver him from his enemies and anything that might bring harm to him. David, among other adjectives, describes God as “my deliverer” and this is the focus of my thoughts in this blogpost.   From the very beginning of creation, God demonstrated his desire to deliver humanity. Think about God’s intentional activity through the ages as recorded in the Bible. ·

God delivered Adam out of the soil and then Eve from Adam’s rib. God delivered Noah and his family from the flood so that future generations could exist. God delivered Abraham and Sarah out of Ur, and then delivered them a son as He had promised. God delivered Isaac from being sacrificed by Abraham, and his son Jacob from the ire of his brother Essau when they were grown. God delivered Jacob’s son Joseph from death at His brother’s hands, and then Joseph’s family from death by famine. God delivered Moses from the hands of the Egyptians three times! Once in the river as a baby, once after he killed the Egyptian foreman that was beating a jew. And God delivered Moses and all the Jewish families from the Egyptians when He passed over their homes marked with lamb’s blood and then parted the Red Sea for their escape.

The Bible records story after story of deliverance throughout the Bible… the Judges, the prophets, the many people that Jesus delivered from sickness, disease, deformities, demons, and sins. And God delivered the apostles time and again from sickness, the hands of enemies, and even death and until their days were completed and they joined Jesus in heaven to prepare for His return to earth in the second coming. All throughout the grand narrative of the Holy Scriptures, from the incidental and obscure, to the intentional and well-known… time and again God has been about the business of delivering people. And He is still doing so today.  

David is a great starting place as his psalm recorded in 2 Samuel demonstrates. As the list of deliverance found above shows, deliverance is not simply an Old Testament activity. There is a poignant story of deliverance recorded in the New Testament of a person that God delivered from demons and self-doubt. Her name was Mary, and she was from Magdala. Even casual readers of the Bible are most likely familiar with Mary Magdalene. Her role in Jesus’ ministry is both key and controversial. So, I want to sort through some common misconceptions and misapplications as we begin to look at her deliverance. There is much discussed outside the knowledge revealed in the Scripture that many (even most) people ascribe to Mary Magdalene. But tradition is not as reliable as Scripture, so here are some of the things regarding her life to consider according to Scripture.

1.       She was not the woman that wiped her tears from Jesus’ feet with her hair and applied perfume.

2.       She was not the woman caught in the act of adultery causing Jesus to doodle in the sand and say, “He who is without sin throw the first stone.”

3.       She was not poor and downtrodden.

4.       She WAS possessed by seven demons, but the Scripture does not say what demons—and much is lost in the translation of “demons” through the centuries.

5.       She WAS at the cross when Jesus was crucified.

6.       She DID witness His burial.

7.       She WAS recorded as the first to see Jesus after His resurrection.

8.       She WAS recorded as the first to speak to Jesus after His resurrection.

9.       She WAS recorded as the first name Jesus uttered after His resurrection.

10.   Mary WAS a vital part of Jesus’ ministry.   During Jesus’ ministry, Scripture supports that in many ways He treated women as equals, even though all 12 of the whittled-down group of close disciples were men.

I believe that Jesus demonstrated that women were equally important to His ministry because we read that they were in His inner circle of day-to-day ministry. The Apostle Paul later elevates women to a place of equality when he names women as his “partners in ministry” …and full partners at that. Jesus’s attitude toward women is evident when He recognizes their courage and fidelity in stark contrast to those of the disciples who cowered in fear and uncertainty.  

The verse concerning Mary of Magdela that comes to my mind when I first think of her is found in the Gospel of John 20:14-18 —When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and yet she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Thinking that He was the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you put Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus *said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene came and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.  

This passage stands out to me because Mary from Magdala was flawed. She was common. But there is no doubt that she was devoted to her Lord and Master, having attended the crucifixion, witnessed Jesus’ burial, and showed up early the next morning to clean and treat his body with oils and spices.   We really shouldn’t be surprised that Mary didn’t recognize Jesus. She wasn’t thinking about even the possibility that Jesus had risen from the dead. It is reasonable to believe that He was in a restored body but for the scarring because she didn’t seem aghast at the sight of Him. He looked very different than how He looked to her when she saw them remove Him from the cross and place Him in a tomb. The sense of sight was somewhat deceived by his appearance, but when Jesus called her name. “Mary” – everything changed as she immediately recognized the voice of her Lord and Master… and now, Savior!   With that one word uttered, Mary immediately recognized Jesus and tried to hug Him. Then she went immediately to His disciples to share the good news.

Mary knew that even though she heard the familiarity in His voice, her relationship with Jesus was forever changed. When Jesus called Mary’s name, it not only confirmed the resurrection, but also her deliverance from sin! It was important to Mary that Jesus lived on because if He was still alive, then so was her hope of deliverance from her sin. Three days before, Mary was at the foot of the cross watching as her beloved Lord and Master was crucified. She had painfully watched as He struggled to carry the cross up Mt. Calvary—through a crowd that was mocking Him. She witnessed the soldiers nail His hands and feet to the crossbar and raise the cross up and drop it in a hole, so it stood upright for all to see the crucified. She watched as the soldiers cast lots for his clothes and pierced His side with a spear She heard Jesus Himself say: “IT IS FINISHED” and witnessed them wrap Him in linen and lay Him in a new tomb. So, as far as Mary knew and had witnessed, Jesus was dead and buried… His spirit was gone from this earth. Therefore, when Jesus called her name there was only one possibility for Mary – Jesus had come back from the dead! And the Bible makes clear that this wasn’t some ghost. Mary grabbed Jesus and held on tight—so, Jesus had to tell her to quit clinging to Him.  

When Mary heard her name spoken by her Lord it confirmed that He was the Risen Savior, and even more significant to Mary—her life was forever changed. Her deliverance wasn’t just when Jesus was walking around with her on earth—her deliverance was for eternity!  

Have you recognized that Jesus is undeniably calling your name, and have we responded so that you are forever changed?  

When Jesus called Mary’s name, this eternalizing of her deliverance—the permanency of it created a whole new relationship between them. And when we read this text in the Bible it evokes another truth for us. We do not have to rise with righteous effort to meet Jesus, the cross is Him stooping down for us. When we humble ourselves at the foot of the cross, the biblical axiom proves true, He exalts us out of our sin and into the presence of the God of the universe!  

The amazing thing about Jesus’ resurrection is that He chose a common woman, Mary, to appear to first after His resurrection. I do not believe most people would have done that. If it were me, I would have found the biggest crowd I could and show them all that I had risen from the dead! Or maybe I would have gone to the people who yelled “Crucify him” just a few days earlier and appear to them—scare the living daylights out of them! Or maybe I would appear to the know-it-all Jewish religious leaders. I would have rubbed it in their faces and said, “I told you that you couldn’t keep me in the grave. I’m alive again.” And even if I had chosen to appear to just one person, certainly it wouldn’t have been Mary from Magdala. I mean, I would have gone to the leadership… Caiaphas or Pilate or even king Herod. Or maybe I would have gone to John or Peter, after all, they had just been to the tomb WITH Mary.  But Jesus chose to appear to Mary because I believe He was making a point about deliverance. When Jesus called Mary’s name, He was saying that every person is worth delivering in His sight. No matter how well known the person, their background, social status—whether Jew or Greek, male or female—Jesus sees worth in all humans.  

Think about this…before we were delivered from our mother’s womb, the Bible says that God formed us there. God delivered a baby to the womb, and a doctor or midwife delivered the baby to the world. God knows who we are before we are born, which makes us significant in His eyes—we are born with a relationship with God already in place when we are physically delivered. But sin quickly destroys that relationship. So, through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, we can be delivered again! Listen to How Jesus explained it to Nicodemus, the pharisee that was a member of the Jewish ruling council.   

John 3:1-7 NASB— Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus at night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus responded and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless someone is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a person be born when he is old? He cannot enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which has been born of the flesh is flesh, and that which has been born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’   

Now, Mary had a relationship with Jesus prior to His death and resurrection, but His resurrection changed the character of that relationship. Maybe that’s why Jesus told Mary to let go of Him. He wanted her to understand that the nature of their relationship had changed. She would no longer be able to experience the physical presence of Jesus but in the place of the physical, she was going to get something far better – a permanent relationship with Jesus and His Father.  

Have you asked Jesus to deliver you? Have you been born again in the Spirit?

When Jesus calls your name, He confirms the reality of the resurrection in YOUR life where He created the possibility for a brand-new relationship. But that relationship doesn’t just happen automatically. Delivery is something that must be scheduled and received.   Over the holidays we used home delivery for most of our gift purchases. When we ordered something, we would get a confirmation e-mail and then another with the date the delivery should be expected to arrive. Now, our response when we get the email—we could ignore it, or doubt its accuracy, or call up and cancel/reject it. OR… we can accept it and act accordingly.

When Jesus called Mary’s name, she had to choose how to respond to the correspondence. Mary could have chosen to ignore Jesus. After all, until He called her name, she just figured it was the gardener. So, Mary, even when she recognized His voice, could have just ignored Jesus. Mary could have doubted Jesus. She could have said to herself, “Jesus is dead. There is no way that this can be Jesus. I don’t believe that He could have arisen from the dead.” Mary could have rejected Jesus. She could have chosen to reject Him. Even if she believed that this really was Jesus and that He was alive, she could have just rejected what that meant for her life and just kept living her life without His influence. But Mary answered Jesus’ correspondence another way. Mary chose to grab onto Jesus for all it was worth! She not only embraced Him, but the Bible said she clung to Him…to the point that Jesus had to tell her to let go! “Do not cling to me…” Jesus said.   Mary certainly didn’t understand everything at this point but based on what she knew she decided to embrace Jesus and follow Him. She had to believe in faith that He had indeed been raised from the dead and that His death and resurrection provided her with the ability to have a permanent, intimate relationship with Him.   Maybe Jesus is calling some of the names that read this blog post. It may be for the first time, or He may have been calling for months, even years.  

Has Jesus confirmed in your heart the reality of the resurrection and is He calling you to respond to His invitation to a new relationship this year?  

This may be a call to salvation, or it may be a call for renewal—rededication. Like Mary, you have several choices for the coming year. You can choose to ignore Jesus. You can ignore Him as He calls your name and just go on living your life like you never heard His voice. You can choose to doubt Jesus. You can choose not to believe the mountain of Biblical and historical evidence that Jesus rose from the grave that first Easter morning so that you can have a personal relationship with Him. You can even reject Jesus. Even though you believe in the resurrection, and you believe that it delivers you to a relationship with God, you just won’t accept God’s offer. But I pray that you will choose to embrace Jesus and receive his deliverance for the New Year   You can say, “Jesus, I believe in the resurrection. I believe that you have provided deliverance for me to have a relationship with God. I want to embrace you Jesus… and accept that deliverance today. Listen to what Jesus had to say about those who embrace Him when He calls their name: My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27, 28 (NIV)  

Jesus is calling your name. Listen, respond, and be delivered into eternal life with Him.