So who was Mary Magdalen? There are many misconceptions about who she was. One of the most controversial allegations is that she was the “wife” of Jesus, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth! According to historians, Mary Magdalen was a Galilean woman from a smaller area of Galilee called Magdala, which still exists today. Her name is mentioned in the Bible more than even the Apostle’s names! She is one of my favorite Bible characters because her story is so powerful, but I feel that not even Pastors have shown her amazing story and traits as she deserves. So let’s find out more about this wonderful woman.
According to scripture, the Bible tells us that Mary Magdalen was healed by Jesus and that she had been possessed by 7 demon spirits. In Luke 8:2-3 it reads, “And also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.” It is unclear what Mary’s past might have been. Another misconception is that she was a prostitute, but there is no Biblical evidence to support this claim. As I was researching, I only found that she was possessed by 7 demonic evil spirits, but that is all.
Mary might have suffered the loss of her husband and was a widow with no children, or perhaps she dabbled in the occult and welcomed the demons into her body. Demonic possession only occurs in people that don’t have the Holy Spirit and have somehow opened the door to welcome or invite that evil spirit in. Whatever the case, she was freed from 7 evil spirits by Jesus.
During the time that she would’ve been possessed, one can only imagine how she looked in appearance. Also, she would’ve been an outcast of society because no one would know how to deal with her erratic, illogical behavior during that time. Demons would’ve been tormenting her and we don’t know how long it occurred, but let’s assume it was years of torment. Years of isolation from other people. Imagine not being able to ask for help and if she could ask, no one was able to give her the help she needed, which was freedom from her personal prison!
At some point, she might have encountered Jesus or vice versa. Jesus had compassion on her and removed those evil spirits, banishing them from her body. It would be at that encounter, that Mary (for the very first time in a long time) felt freedom, true peace and absolute healing! So it’s no wonder that she had such a passionate affection and love for Jesus! Let’s not forget, this was a time and still is to this day, where women were second class citizens. Men were allowed (in that culture) to divorce a wife if they even felt she put too much salt in his food. I am being serious and it can be verified, historically. Women had no rights and were only to be obedient.
So imagine, this amazing man named Jesus of Nazareth comes and heals Mary. For one – a man had compassion on a demon possessed woman! For two – He shows kindness to her and is loving and accepting and ever so welcoming to her. I envision Jesus looking at her with eyes full of mercy and grace. In Luke 8:1-3 we read, “Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.” It was not just Mary that tagged along to follow Jesus, but other women that had evil spirits and perhaps physical infirmities. It makes so much sense! In a culture where they would’ve been the “forgotten”, they were friends of Jesus and would’ve followed Him everywhere because they would’ve had no home to return to.
Mary Magdalen might very well have been following Jesus for a large part of His three year ministry. During that time, she would’ve seen for herself that He was more than just a man. She would’ve seen miracle after miracle and known that He was supernatural, if she didn’t already believe that He was the Son of God, which I believe she did. Since she was with Him everyday, she eventually would be around when Jesus got arrested. The Bible tells us that when all the other disciples (except for John) ran to hide in fear of the Roman soldiers, she was right there at His feet when He was crucified. In Mark 15:40 it reads, “There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.” Although they might have been scared of the Romans too, Mary Magdalen and the other ladies stayed at an eye’s view in distance. Their hearts would’ve been crushed. In this culture, people witnessed crucifixion all the time because the Romans were notorious for placing men, women and children on crosses in full display. It was usually on busy roads, the idea was to bring fear and submission to Roman imperialism.
So here is Mary, distraught, but she and the other women held to their burial custom, which was to anoint the dead body with spices. This process was to prevent the body from smelling and the spices used included frankincense and myrrh. Two of the gifts presented to Mary (Mother of Jesus) by the Magi or Wise men. These spices were for embalming dead bodies, so thinking back, imagine what Mary and Joseph thought when they received them as “gifts” for the Messiah!
Now in Matthew 28:1-10 we read, “Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
I’ve always liked John’s version. In John 20:11-18 we read, “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?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” The reason I love this version is because it shows Mary’s personality. Here she was in mourning, not able to believe that His body was missing and these strangers are already in His tomb! Here, Mary supposes that the other man talking to her is the Gardener, but I love what she says to Him. She basically is very brave, not caring what this man could do to her. She stands up and demands the body and tells Him that she’ll carry His body back herself! I have to giggle at this because any average woman would not be able to carry the weight of a dead body without help! But it’s because of her love for Jesus! He was her only friend, her God, her Lord and Master.
So, in John 20:16 we read, “Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” I love it!!!!! Here she is being stubborn and hot-headed (which is something Jesus probably found amusing in her) and He says her name. She immediately recognized His voice and looked up, saying, “Teacher!” Then in John 20:17 it says, “Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” I picture myself in her shoes and imagine I would’ve been clinging to Him too!! I wouldn’t want to let go, knowing He was alive!! So, Mary goes in John 20:18 we read, “Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.”
In Mark 16:10 it says, “She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.” In Luke 24:11 it says, “But their words seemed like nonsense to them, and they did not believe the women.” Here, it’s logical that they didn’t believe the women. No one in history had ever risen from the dead! The disciples probably thought they were tired and hallucinating, in their mourning. Plus, it was cultural that men were not to believe a “woman’s” testimony. In that culture, a woman’s testimony (if she was a “witness” to a crime) held no weight in a court of law. So, I can only imagine the frustration and disrespect Mary and the other women might have felt!
The amazing thing is that Jesus didn’t have to appear to Mary, but He did. He was aware that she was at His crucifixion and that she wept at His feet, when they would’ve pulled down His dead body to anoint it with the herbs and spices. She had much love for Him and He honored her by appearing to her. She was the first one whose broken heart, He restored. I find that so beautiful and I hope you do too. Are you broken, isolated, an outcast and broken? Well, there’s awesome news!! The Savior of the world can be you Best Friend, Lord and Master too! When you follow Jesus like Mary did, Jesus shows up in amazing ways! So that is the story of Jesus, the Best Friend that Mary ever had and so much more, He was her Lord and Savior too,