Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28.
In the village of Bethany lived two women, Mary and Martha, with their brother Lazarus, who evidently was the breadwinner for the family. Father and mother must have been gone. Both women were well known, but Mary was more outgoing than Martha. She felt at home with the crowd. Everybody liked Mary. And whenever there was a banquet or church potluck Mary was always there to make people feel at home.
One day, one of the church leaders, named Simon, began to notice Mary in a special way. He decided deep down inside that he was going to get better acquainted with her. And he did. Mary suspected nothing, at first. She was friendly to everybody. With the help of the archenemy, Simon was able, little by little, to lead Mary into sin.
She wasn’t able to hide it forever, and gradually it became known around town that Mary was a “loose” woman. Things got so unbearable in Bethany that Mary packed her few belongings and left town. She traveled down Mount Moriah to a town called Magdala. She later became known as Mary of Magdala.
There Mary began to make some “easy” money. It turned out not to be so easy in the end. She found some people who were willing to pay her price, and oddly enough, she even found a degree of acceptance among these—people who became her friends and came back again and again. But the load got heavier and heavier on her shoulders. She found the easy money turning to bitterness.
One day a traveling preacher came to town. He stood in the streets of Magdala and began to tell people things they had never heard before. In those days, no one accepted publicans and harlots and thieves. But Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Rest? For Mary, who had been lying awake at night? She heard words such as, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).
For the first time in her life, Mary saw a glimpse of the true character of God—of His love, which was revealed through Jesus—and she realized that God would accept her. She no longer had to run away from a God she feared.