INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Mary Magdalene Part Two
IN PART Two OF THIS two PART SERIES ON Mary Magdalene, WE WILL continue to DIG INTO WHO Mary WAS, the misconceptions about her, and her solid identity in Jesus.
MAry IN THE BIBLE
Mary and the other female disciples were following Jesus and supporting Him along with the other male disciples [Luke 8]
Mary was among other women who were disciples of Jesus that He had healed. Luke specifically details that the other women, Susanna, Joanna, and as Luke says, “many others” were also afflicted by evil spirits and illnesses.
Mary and the other female disciples supported Jesus financially [Luke 8:3]
Some of these women were married, some most likely single, but Luke specifies that all of the women used their own means and finances to support Jesus’s ministry.
Mary was at Jesus’s crucifixion
Mary, Mary Jesus’s mother, John, Salome, Mary James and John’s mother, and Mary the wife of Clopas were at Jesus’s crucifixion [Matthew 27:55-56, John 19:25-26]. It’s unclear if any other disciples were present, but Mark describes “many other women” there who cared for Jesus during His ministry [Mark 15:40-41, Luke 23:27].
Mary took part in Jesus’s burial
Joseph of Arimithea prepared Jesus for burial and laid Him to rest in his own tomb [Mark 15:42-47, Matthew 27:57-61, John 19:38-42, Luke 23:50-56]. Mary Magdalene and Mary Jesus’s mother were there and watched this. It’s uncertain, but according to Luke 23:55, there may have been more women accompanying them as well.
This emphasizes her close relationship to Jesus
Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus resurrected after his death on the cross. Mary Magdalene, Mary Jesus’s mother, and Salome had purchased spices to anoint Jesus’ body with and they headed to the tomb early in the morning on Sunday. The stone that sealed the tomb had been rolled away by an earthquake, and the women could see that Jesus’ body was gone. Thinking Jesus’s body had been stolen, Mary ran to Peter and John and told them what she saw. They all returned to the tomb, and the disciples found Jesus’s burial clothes. Mary wept, thinking Jesus’s body was stolen, and two angels were there at the tomb and asked her why she was crying. She explained that she was looking for Jesus’s body. Jesus appeared to her and when she realized it was Jesus, she hugged him and Jesus sent her to tell the disciples about his resurrection. [Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16, Luke 2:1-12, John 20:1-18]
The story of Jesus’s resurrection all share different details from different perspectives, but Mary’s name is mentioned in all four accounts.
It’s unclear why Mary didn’t immediately recognize Jesus, but it’s possible that it was because Jesus appeared different after His resurrection.
In Luke 24:13-35, two disciples were walking and spending time with Jesus and also didn’t realize it was Him until they sat down for dinner with Him.
Mark 16:9-11 and Luke 24:10-21 explain that there were other women with Mary [Joanna, Jesus’s mother and the “other women” not named]. It’s unclear if the other women were inside the tomb with Mary Magdalene when she spoke to Jesus. Because she is the only one mentioned and named talking with the angels and Jesus, scripture seems to indicate that she was probably the only one inside the tomb while the other women waited outside, or perhaps the other women watched while she was the only one who actually spoke to Jesus. Or, the other women may have had encounters speaking with the angels and Jesus which are simply not mentioned.
Jesus appearing to women first is another clear indication of Christ’s revolutionary treatment of women in contrast to first century patriarchy. Jesus appeared to women first which was very symbolic of how much he valued them as equals.
The gospel of John specifically highlights women of faith, like the Samaritan woman, Mary of Bethany, Martha, Jesus’s mother, and Mary Magdalene. These women had faith that Jesus was the messiah and had faith in His abilities as the Son of God.
Mary told the disciples what she saw and that Jesus had been raised from the dead [John 20:18, Matthew 28:8-9, Mark 16:9-11, Luke 24:9-12]. The disciples didn’t believe her until Jesus revealed himself to them later.
LET'S TALK Mary Magdalene
Mary was faithful to Jesus and His ministry, and she clearly, truly believed that He was the Messiah. Mary gave her time, she cared for Jesus, she traveled with Jesus, she funded Jesus’s ministry with her money, and she stayed close to Jesus even when others fled. We can see Peter openly denying Jesus in John 18:15-18; 25-26. At the crucifiction, the only male disciple of Jesus mentioned is John. Jesus’s mother and some female disciples of Jesus were there when Jesus died, but none of the other male disciples of Jesus’s core group that He served in ministry with for years were in sight. But, Mary was there. Mary was there for the crucifiction, the death, the burial, and was at her Lord’s tomb, ready to care for His body.
In John 20:11-18, you can almost hear the heartbreak and desperation in her voice when she asks Jesus and the angels where her Lord’s body is. She thinks someone stole her Rabbi’s body and she is weeping, tired and aching in her heart. It’s day three of the longest, worst weekend, so far, in the actual history of the world, and she just wants to lay her Lord to rest. She loves Jesus. I think Mary’s love for God and His Son is the reason why people falsely believe she was His wife, but really she just deeply, truly, and honestly believed He was the Messiah of mankind, and she loved Him.
She ran to tell the disciples of the amazing things she had seen. What I think is so incredible about this is that Jesus chose Mary to be the first one He came to after His resurrection. Jesus chose Mary to be the one to tell His others disciples that He had been raised from the dead. Jesus chose the once broken, lost, and demon-afflicted woman He saved from desperation to be the first one to share the gospel: That Jesus had been raised from the dead and He was risen indeed. He didn’t need her, He could have revealed Himself to everyone in a split second, but He chose to use her and demonstrate His ability to transform, redeem, love, save, and use absolutely anyone. Jesus chose Mary and Jesus chooses you.
Mary is a girl who people have a lot of ideas and misconceptions about. Maybe that’s the way you relate to her: people make assumptions about you, have ideas based off of rumors about you, or maybe just make up their own thoughts about you. If Mary were alive, trust me, she would understand. It seems that most of the misconceptions and off-the-wall rumors about Mary came about after she had passed, and continue long after she’s gone, but the one detail remains: that woman loved Jesus. She loved Him with her heart, soul, and life.
Mary probably did receive some backlash and looks during her time with Jesus though. Jesus was breaking the norm and making a huge splash by having women facilitate His ministry and be his disciples. The culture at this time was not for women, not for equality, and by in large were not about women being taught religiously by Jewish leaders as men were. It was a huge controversy at the time, but it never stopped Mary.
Maybe you really feel the pain and relate to Mary’s post mortem dilema. People made some serious and wild stuff up about her. But here’s the thing: for Mary of Magdalene, it’s not a problem. A. because Mary is in the presence of God in heaven so what people think of her could not matter less to her I’m certain, and B. because Mary’s legacy is not the rumors or lies made up about her. There is no mention in God’s Word of the ideas that she was a prostitute or a lover of Jesus; the Bible says Mary was a faithful servant who deeply loved her Lord. Mary is not defined by the things people say or judge her on, Mary is defined by her identity in Christ. Mary is remembered for her love for God, Jesus saving her from affliction, and her service for the Lord. It’s not a problem for Mary, and it should absolutely not be a problem for you.
Just like Mary, you are defined by nothing but your identity in Christ. If you are a follower of Jesus and you believe Jesus is God’s only son who lived the perfect life you could not live, that He died the death in your place that you deserved, and that God raised Jesus from the dead, defeating the power of sin and death forever, then you have an eternal promise that can never be broken of salvation with God forever. THAT is your identity. God and what God has done and what God says about you are what define you.
It’s easy to say and it can be so hard to accept, especially when people, and people you like, love, and care about, speak rumors or lies or say hurtful things about you. But nothing is more true or permanent or defining than God sending His only son to die for your sins because He loved you so much and has made you a new person through Christ’s redemptive power. You are His. That is the truest and most important part of who you are. Be a Mary Magdalene. Be a disciple of Jesus. Follow God Faithfully, love Him truly, and never leave His side. Give to Him, serve Him, and share the gospel with no cares about anyone’s thoughts of it but His alone.
What can you learn from the life of Mary Magdalene? How do you relate to Mary? What things in your life [relationships, spouse, career, “success”, house, money, status] do you use to define your identity instead of Jesus? How can you strip everything else away and make Jesus’s work on the cross for you your identity?