The Truth About Mary Magdalene
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
Mary Magdalene has long been a woman misunderstood. She gets mistaken as the prostitute with the alabaster jar who poured perfume on Jesus’s feet. I have heard some speculate that she was the adulteress that was about to be stoned. Some even perpetuate a heresy and claim that she was Jesus’s wife! But when we examine the text closely, none of this seems to actually be true about Mary Magdalene.
What we do know about Mary is that she first comes onto the scene in Luke 8:2. She is listed among the women who accompany Jesus as He ministers to the surrounding cities and villages. Luke 8:3 credits these women, Mary Magdalene included, as supporting Jesus’ ministry out of their own personal means. Luke says that she is the woman from whom seven demons had been cast out. With an experience like that, she was no doubt a woman who had seen and felt Jesus’s power over the forces of evil in the spiritual realm. She knew that Jesus was who He said He was—the Son of God. And she was grateful for what He did for her. From that moment on, she was a faithful follower of Jesus.
In Matthew 27:56, Mary Magdalene is mentioned as being among the women who witnessed Jesus’s crucifixion and death. She was one of the faithful women who stuck by Him the entire time. According to Mark 15:47, Mary Magdalene was one of the women who witnessed Joseph of Arimathea lay Jesus’s body in the tomb.
Finally, John 20 records Mary Magdalene’s personal encounter with the resurrected Jesus Himself. As she stood outside the tomb weeping, Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” (v.15). She doesn’t recognize Him and assumes He is the gardener. But then, Jesus says her name. “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary’. She turned and said to him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher)” (John 20:16). Even when her eyes didn’t recognize Him, she knew His voice.
What an honor! A woman who had been held captive by seven demons was freed from demonic possession, and then became an eyewitness to His ministry, crucifixion, death, and burial. Now, she is also listed as the first to see the resurrected Jesus! Because she had faithfully followed Him, she was a witness to Jesus from the miraculous beginnings of His ministry to the miraculous end. Her testimony carries a significant amount of weight because she alone witnessed all of these events in their entirety.
The WORD about women in the story of Mary Magdalene is that Jesus invites women to faithfully follow Him and testify about His work in their life. Women can also be students of His teachings. Women can also support the work of Christ financially. Women can also be proclaimers of the Gospel. Sisters, the Bible is clear. Both men and women have been called to be His faithful followers.
Where do you think the writers of the four Gospels received the information they included in their narratives if they were not eyewitnesses to all of the events themselves?
PrayJesus, like Mary Magdalene, I want to be Your disciple. I want to sit under Your teachings and share what I have learned with those around me. I want to invest in Your kingdom and share what You have given me to support Your work. Please give me opportunities to testify about You. Amen.