May 29 – Trip to the Holy Land – Magdala

DAY 17 – MAGDALA

Theme: Freedom

Read Romans 7:15-25

Sometimes it seems like every shovelful of dirt in Israel reveals a fascinating historical discovery. That happened in Magdala just a few years ago.

Land was purchased by a priest along the Western shore of the Sea of Galilee in order to build a guesthouse for pilgrims who traveled to the Holy Land. Before construction could begin, the required excavations were conducted in 2009 by the Israeli Antiquities Authority.

Then it happened! Archaeologists stumbled upon the ancient fishing village of Magdala, perhaps the most prominent town along the Sea of Galilee in the first century. Along with the remnants of this fishing village, a first century synagogue was unearthed, only one of seven in the world left from that time. It’s thrilling to walk through the ruins of this location and realize that Jesus walked the same steps.

Archaeologists also uncovered the “Magdala stone,” which includes a carving of a seven-branch menorah. This kind of menorah can only be seen here and on the Arch of Titus in Rome. Whoever carved one menorah probably also carved the other.

Many Bible scholars believe that Mary Magdelene hailed from this prominent fishing village. In fact we read this account from Dr. Luke:  “Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons….” (Luke 8:1-2 – NLT).

Mary had experienced the horrors of a life characterized by demon possession. In fact, some believe that Mary’s demonic influence led her into prostitution, but there is no biblical confirmation of that idea. We do know that Jesus freed her from spiritual bondage, as he did many others (Luke 7:21; 8:36), so she became a devoted follower and financial supporter of the Lord.

In fact, Mary’s devotion to Jesus brought her to the tomb to anoint his body on that first Easter Sunday. She was among the first to hear the earth-shattering words of the angel: “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said” (Matthew 28:6 – NIV).

Do you feel like you are battling a habit that you cannot break? Perhaps you are succumbing to an addictive behavior. Maybe you feel bound by guilt and shame. Here’s the great news… The same Jesus who delivered Mary from demon possession can deliver you from your spiritual bondage.   Your chains can be broken by the power of the Resurrected Lord!

The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the Romans: “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25a – NLT).

Prayer of Reflection:  Almighty God, help me to tap Your infinite power and wisdom today to break the chains of spiritual bondage that keep me from experiencing the life You designed for me.

Bob Fetterhoff

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