The Three Marys of the Passion

I’ve been working on a sermon series for Holy Week which I will begin preaching tonight called: The Three Mary’s of the Passion. To be honest I haven’t settled on a it, but it’ll have to do. I have been intrigued by the interactions of Mary of Bethany, Mary the Mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene with Jesus and their presence in John’s gospel narrative. They are around at some very significant moments in Jesus’ ministry.

Just prior to Jesus’ triumphal entry, Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus’ feet, much to Judas’ chagrin, with expensive perfume. The perfume she uses was intended for his burial — she seemed to know that this was immanent. It’s not so surprising to see Mary at the foot of Jesus, again. Maybe it was the time spent at that vantage point, that enabled her to see what his disciples could not: that he was going to Jerusalem to die.

Mary the Mother of Jesus makes her appearance at the foot of the cross. John has not included her in the narrative since her pleading with Jesus to do something about the wine at the wedding in Cana. At that time he asked, “Woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come.” But in John 19, looking down from the cross, beaten, bloody, dying, he says, “Dear woman, behold your son.” It’s as if Jesus is saying, “Mother, this is my time–this is what I came to do.”
Lastly, we have Mary Magdalene. Mary goes to the tomb on what would’ve been an unbearable errand: to complete the task of preparing Jesus’ body for burial. What she found was an open door. She ran back to tell the disciples who ran back ahead of her and found the tomb empty. Leaving her alone, Mary remained at the tomb. I love the next verse: “Mary stood outside the tomb crying…” If ever there was a picture of our situation that’s it: outside, overwhelmed with grief, regret, sorrow, anger, despair… And then that great question, “Woman, why are you crying?” In in an instant the world is turned on its head and grief and sadness give way to joy and celebration.

So, that’s what I’m thinking about for Easter. It’s helping me. Hope it helps you, too.

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