Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What is Your God Like?

There’s probably no person in the Bible who’s more misunderstood today than Mary Magdalene. There are a great many people today who believe she was a prostitute. That’s the way she’s been depicted in art throughout church history, the way she’s often depicted in movies these days, movies like The Passion of the Christ. But that’s not at all what the Bible says. Best we can tell, this misinformation goes all the way back to 591 AD, when Pope Gregory the Great preached a sermon in which he implied that Mary was the same woman as a prostitute who Jesus had transformed. The Catholic church has since rejected that teaching, but it’s still around today. There’s also a persistent rumor that Mary and Jesus were secretly married, and may have even had children. That goes all the way back to the second century with books like the Gospel of Philip and the Gospel of Mary, books the early church rejected as spurious. It’s been brought back to life recently by books like The DaVinci Code. It’s amazing to me that we’re still believing stuff whose source is a couple of ancient books that original readers treated as being about as credible as a grocery store tabloid and a mediocre contemporary novel, but that’s where we are. So let me just say it now: There is no credible reason, Biblically or otherwise, to suspect any kind of sexual relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

Here's what we know about Mary: She knew Jesus personally. He saved her from a life that in many ways must have been worse than death. And out of all His followers, He chose to appear first to her after the resurrection, making her the first eyewitness of the most important event in human history. This Sunday, we'll celebrate Easter by asking the question: "What is your God like?" I can't think of a more important issue than cutting through the speculation and wishful thinking so that we can get to the bottom of who God really is. No one is more qualified to tell us this than Mary. This Sunday, we'll hear what she would say about Him.

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