This reality contradicts the teachings of so many ecclesiastical Christian teachers who proclaim that we can only be saved by Jesus' physical body dying on the cross.
If the death of Jesus' physical body on the cross is the only thing that can save people, how was Mary Magdalene saved, according to Jesus himself, by her "faith?"
This statement also punctures the concept - also taught by ecclesiastical Christian teachers - that no one was saved before Jesus' crucifixion: That every righteous person who lived prior would have to hang out in some purgatory limbo state until Jesus' crucifixion.
The reality is that people were saved prior to Jesus' crucifixion. Not only by their faith and devotion to Jesus and his teachings: But by their faith and devotion to the teachings of those representatives of God who came before Jesus. This includes Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Eli, Samuel, David, Job, Solomon, James and many others. Each of these teachers delivered those who followed them with faith.
And just what is this "faith" that saved Mary? What does "faith" really mean? Does "faith" mean becoming a member of a particular religion or religious sect? Does "faith" mean going to church? Does "faith" mean saying "I am saved"?
The word "faith" here has been translated from the Greek word πίστις (pistis) which means, according to Thayer's lexicon, "conviction of the truth of anything" and "the character of one who can be relied on."
Let's consider this word and its meaning a little more carefully. Let's say a person is going to the hospital to get surgery, and they say to the surgeon prior to their operation, "I have faith in you." Does this have anything to do with being a member of a religion or religious sect?
No. A patient's saying that "I have faith in you" to their doctor simply means the person has complete confidence in the doctor. They trust in the doctor's skills, and trust that the doctor will perform the surgery flawlessly.
This is what Jesus is describing: That Mary Magdalene had complete confidence in Jesus and completely trusted Jesus.
But what was Jesus doing that she should have confidence in? Is Jesus talking about her having confidence in his miracles? Or is Jesus talking about her having confidence in his existence?
No, because those things were obvious to see. Anyone seeing Jesus' miracles would have confidence in Jesus having those abilities. (We know that Mary traveled with Jesus so she had witnessed those.)
And anyone seeing Jesus standing or sitting in front of them as Mary had, would certainly have confidence in Jesus' existence.
And Jesus had not created any type of religious sect: He didn't erect temples or churches and did not put together an organization. Therefore his use of the word "faith" had nothing to do with joining any religion or sect.
So the "faith" that Jesus was speaking of had nothing to do with the "faith" that ecclesiastical Christian institutions put forth.
The "faith" that Jesus was referring to with Mary was her trust in Jesus' teachings. Her confidence that those teachings were true.
Jesus' teachings were his primary mission. He traveled from town to town through an inhospitable desert region, sometimes with little water or food, just to preach to the people of these different towns. He would stand up on hills, stand in boats and stand in courtyards teaching the people. This was his purpose and mission.
And those who believed those teachings - those who had confidence in or faith in those teachings - were saved by those teachings.
Why? Because Jesus' teachings introduced people to the Supreme Being. Those who heard Jesus' teachings and trusted in them were saved because they were introduced to God and their relationship with God.
And what is that relationship? Love and loving service. This is who we are and why we were created by God: To love Him and serve Him.
This is why Jesus declared that his most important teaching ("first and greatest") was:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)
By following this instruction - having confidence or "faith" in this teaching - we are effectively saved. Why? Because by loving God we are effectively reunited within our natural position as His loving servant. This saves us from the tempest of material existence - driven by self-centeredness. It saves us from the ravishes related to desiring things that won't fulfill us and suffering the consequences of hurting others as we attempt to get what we want.
A life of loving and serving the Supreme Being effectively eliminates the consciousness of selfishness - the root of sin.
Now what does Jesus mean by "go in peace"? Is he saying Mary is an enemy combatant and he is trying to make peace with her?
Don't be ridiculous.
The word "peace" is being translated from the Greek εἰρήνη (eirēnē), which can refer to tranquility among nations or groups, but in this context, according to Strong's lexicon, it means "the tranquil state of a soul" and "the blessed state of devout and upright men."
We cannot disconnect the word "peace" from Jesus' statement regarding Mary's "faith" and the fact that this "saved" her. The "peace" that she would be experiencing is directly relating to her having confidence and trust in Jesus' teachings - and thus following them.
This means that it was the following of Jesus' teachings that was bringing Mary this "peace" in the first place.
That is the nature of loving the Supreme Being. It is fulfilling. When we are in love with God we are completely satisfied. God is the Perfect Person. He is our Soul Mate. He is the Person we've been looking for our entire lives to make us complete. Loving Him is the only thing that can bring us real peace within.