From His Birth to His Resurrection: Mary Magdalene

Finally, here is the last installment of the Women of the Way series on Biblical women from Christ’s birth to His resurrection. We discussed Mary here and Mary and Martha here. Of course, we can’t finish a discussion of these awesome women without including Mary Magdalene.

There’s probably no other woman in the bible who’s been more controversial or misrepresented than Mary Magdalene. Throughout history she has been presented in art as a prostitute. I remember growing up thinking much of the same. Even in recent literature and pop culture, Mary has been supposedly “married” or “in love” with Jesus (which I find personally upsetting). Back at our first Women of the Way Bible study in 2012, one of our presenters, Jessi Higganbotham presented an interesting perspective that caused me to look at our Mary in a different light.

Take a look at all the verses in the Gospels in which you find Mary, and you’ll see she was very present in His ministry, at the cross, and at His resurrection.

In Luke 8:1-3, she was listed with other women who was delivered from demons and consequently contributed financially to His ministry. One of the things I learned from Jessi was this verse indicated in order for her to contribute financially to His ministry she had to be a women of means. A prostitute was the lowest of the low, and “working” was the only way women could earn a living if they didn’t have a family or husbands to take care of them. I don’t claim to be an expert on this idea but it really does makes sense. Research it out and see what you find!

If you keep looking for Mary Mag in other verses, you’ll find her standing at the foot of the cross (John 19:25), and she saw where He was laid in a tomb (Mark 15:47). Throughout His ministry and even at His death, she remained faithful to Him. When others were falling away trying to save their own hides, she (along with some other women) never left Him.

Upon further examination of the Scriptures,  Mark 16:1 tells us that Mary Magdalene with other women went to buy spices to anoint Jesus’ body in the tomb. They had to go on Saturday evening after the Sabbath had ended to make the purchase. I found this verse fascinating and had never thought about it before. Those women had likely been awake for a couple of days, had witnessed the brutal and heart-wrenching death of Jesus, and in the misted of their grief….they went out and bought spices! I mean, where were the disciples? They were hiding out in the upper room trying to keep from being seen by any Roman soldiers and hoping they wouldn’t be crucified for their association with Jesus! But the women took care of the details, like women usually do….. And, Mary remained right there with them!

Finally, in Mark 16:2 she was at the tomb early on Sunday morning and in Mark 16:9 was the first to see Jesus alive. But in John 20:11-18 we read Mary’s most well known interaction with Jesus. She saw Jesus and in her despair mistook Him for the gardener. She leaped at His feet, not even fully comprehending what was happening before her, and He said not to touch Him just yet. Jesus sent her on to tell the others….and Peter.

Appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene after re...
Appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene after resurrection, Alexander Ivanov, 1835 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No matter how tough the circumstances, no matter how hard things got, Mary Magdalene never left Jesus. Mary remained faithful even when the world around her seemed the most hopeless.

Can you imagine it? She followed His ministry, supported Him, endured seeing Him on the cross, and even in His death wanted to continue to serve Him. But then Sunday morning arriving to find that tomb empty and the body was nowhere to be found!!! What would you have done? I probably would have given up in utter despair.

“Well, that’s it. It’s over. The Romans won!”

But at that moment, she heard her name….Mary….Mary………and there He was!!!!!!!

Through it all, Mary Magdalene remained faithful and as a result, became the first person to announce the Good News….The Lord is risen!!!!

What about you? Have you been serving Jesus and doing everything you know to live for Him, yet you find yourself in a place where it feels like He has left you? Do you ever feel like “where have they taken my Lord”?

If you ever feel like grief and despair may overtake you, think of Mary Magdalene who remained faithful even in the darkest of times. And expect Jesus to lovingly call your name as you forever cling to Him!

~Amy

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