What is the first thing you think of when you hear the name “Mary Magdalene”? Some people think that Mary was a prostitute who came to know Jesus as her Lord, yet there is absolutely no biblical evidence for this lie, that she was a prostitute. Neither should she be confused with the woman who was a sinner that came to Simon’s house where Jesus was. That woman was nameless, and scripture tells us that her weeping and repentance had saved her from her sins. This study will attempt to portray the truth about Mary Magdalene, a woman greatly blessed.
Verses pertaining to Mary are scattered throughout the gospels, each a piece of her story. We will bring them in chronological order, to best learn the truth.
Luke 8:1-3 is the earliest mention of Mary “And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,…..and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.”. Reading a few verses before, Luke 7:37-50 is the story of the woman who was a sinner. Luke 8:1 clearly states “and it came to pass afterward,” Thus we know that Mary Magdalene was NOT the woman who was a sinner.
Mary, along with others were healed of their infirmities. The name Magdalene signifies where she came from, Mary of Magdala. Imagine what a terrible state this poor woman must have been in. As the bible often does, it states an incredible occurrence in the simple statement “out of whom went seven devils”. This combines with Mark 16:9…he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.” The devils acknowledge the Lord. Even today, we are told in Ephesians 6:12,16 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” In James 4:7 we learn that as believers we have the power thru the indwelling holy spirit to “resist the devil and he will flee from you”.
Next in Luke 8:1-3 we learn that Mary and some of the other women who Jesus healed accompanied the Lord and his apostles as he went “throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God:” Every city and village – the news was spread everywhere, no one had excuse to say that they did not hear the good news. A reminder that today, we ought to be going everywhere telling the good news. Mark 15:40,41 tell us that Mary was among those women who had followed him from when he was in Galilee, and ministered unto him and came up with him unto Jerusalem. These women “ministered unto him of their substance” Luke 8:3. Matthew 27:55-56 confirms that the women followed him from Galilee, with whom one was Mary Magdalene.
Are we not to follow the Lord? When we are healed of our infirmities, the forgiveness of our sins through faith, redeemed through the shed precious blood of the Lord Jesus, should we not follow him in prayer, reading his word, and being a testimony of what he has done for us?
When next we see Mary, it is when our Lord is crucified, John 19:25 “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.” By the cross those faithful women, Mary among them, were with the Lord until the end, witnesses of his suffering. They were there during those hours of darkness when he took upon himself the sins of the world. We can’t begin to imagine how distraught Mary and the others must have been.
And afterwards, when Joseph of Arimathea begged the body of Jesus, Mary was there at the tomb and “And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus beheld where he was laid. (Mark 15:47) Matthew 27:61 tells us “…there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre” No doubt grief stricken at all she had witnessed. She who had followed and ministered unto him since he healed her, had been faithful in staying with him unto his death and burial.
But them Matthew 28:1 “as it began to dawn” Mary came to the sepulchre with some of the other women, the reason being they “had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.” (Mark 16:1) Mark 16:2 also says that it was “very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun” Only the word of God can fittingly tell what transpired next. Matthews 28:2-6 “And behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” What marvelous words! “for he is risen” Death is conquered, our blessed hope is secure, the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour. We serve a risen Saviour. And the women, including Mary, saw an angel, and not one of those cute little cherubs or ladies with wings and pretty dresses with halos that we see portrayed so often. No, this was a male, and his countenance was like lightning, bright shining, and his raiment white as snow. How awesome, no wonder the keepers shook and “became as dead men”.
Heartache turned to unspeakable joy! They are told to tell the disciples and so they “departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word“. (Matthew 28:8) What words to give them, “He is Risen”
John 20:1-18 tells us further that Peter and John ran back to the tomb and then went home, but Mary would not leave the tomb, and John 20:11 “But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre” There she sees two more angels. but then V14-16 she looks around and sees a man, supposing him to be the gardener, and addresses him respectfully as “Sir”. He asks why she is weeping and whom does she seek? All Mary wants to know is where her Lord is, so she can take him away. Her only interest is the Lord. And then that most blessed thing. John 20:16″ Jesus saith unto her, “Mary”. She turned herself, and saith unto him Rabboni;which is to say, Master”. Mary has seen the risen Saviour, and wants to cling to him, but the Lord sends her to the disciples to tell them (V17) “Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your father; and my God, and your God.” and so V18 “Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.” Mary goes to the disciples and tells them that she has seen and spoken with the Lord. The disciples, who, according to Mark 16:10 mourned and wept. What an honour is bestowed upon her.
And so this is Mary Magdalene’s story. A woman healed by our Lord of seven devils, who worshipped him and followed him everywhere he went, ministering unto him. She was near him while he suffered such cruelties on that cross and was there when he died. She sat by the sepulchre while they laid his poor beaten body to rest. Such faithfulness. After the sabbath, while it was yet dark, she came to the tomb to anoint his body. For her faithfulness Mary is blessed to see angels, and most blessed of all to be the first one to see the risen Saviour, and the first one to hear him speak her name. And then her service continues as she is blessed to go and tell the disciples that she has seen the Lord, and that he has spoken to her.
Here is a lesson for us. Are we as faithful to the Lord Jesus? When he comes back will he find us waiting and watching, and looking for him? Some glorious day, perhaps early in the morning, we will hear the sound of him calling us. Will he find us as faithful as Mary?