Mary Magdalene

Jesus had tried to prepare his disciples for what was going to happen. They had a hard time grasping what he was saying. He talked about death, leaving them, coming back, and it just didn’t make sense. It didn’t fit their idea of what the Messiah was going to be like.

Who was Mary Magdalene?

  •  Luke 8: 2-3 Mary was a steadfast disciple of Jesus, grateful because of what Jesus had done for her. She had been freed from the terrible torment of demons and Satanic bondage. Her service to Jesus was motivated by pure gratitude. She probably was not young and sexy like the movies portray her-she hung out with older women so she was probably one of their peers. By the way-no where in scripture is she portrayed as a prostitute.
  • Luke states that the financial support for the travels of Jesus and his twelve disciples came from a group of women who had been healed of infirmities:  Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward, Susanna, and Mary Magdalene, who had seven demons.
  • Matthew 27: 55-56 She was a witness of the crucifixion. Another Mary, Jesus Mother, and John stood close to the cross.
  • Mark 15:47 She was present at the burial
  •  Mark 16:1 She was among the first to come to the tomb early on Sunday morning to help complete the burial process.
  • Mark 16:6 She was the first to hear the angelic announcement.
  • John 20: 11-18 She was the first to talk to Jesus after the resurrection.

New Life in the Risen Lord

At the time the twelve were chosen by Jesus, there was a sense of joy and impeding victory in the air. Enthusiastic crowds grew daily, seeking Jesus out, listening to his teachings and longing for the touch of healing on their lives. One such woman was Mary Magdalene.

Mary Magdalene was cured of seven demons by the mercy of Jesus. Demon possession was a terrible curse. She battled insane behavior, relentless injury and the ridicule of neighbors, family and friends. The community ostracized her. She was possessed by evil that she could not control; brutal, destructive, hurtful, wild, and unpredictable.

One day when Jesus visited her hometown, Capernaum, He singled her out. She had been sleeking on the sidelines, curious, longing and drawn to this man. Was He the Messiah? Her sinfulness felt too great to bear. She must have fallen at his feet in a desperate desire for the healing she had witnessed of so many others. Jesus looked at her with piercing eyes. He cut through to the heart of her sin and longing. And then Jesus spoke. The demons convulsed within in, wretched her as she writhed on the ground, spewing vile curses as a fierce battle raged within her for control. But the authority of Jesus had power over demons. The demons shook her violently as they fled one by one. She must have lain exhausted, dirty and disheveled at his feet. Peace overwhelmed her. Now she knew; He was the Messiah! The firm, loving hand of Jesus must have reached out and raised her to new life. Forgiven, free, whole and well.


Her heart, it must have pounded within her. Jesus. Jesus. New Life. Love replaced hatred. Confidence erased pity. Freedom won over violent torment. Her heart was light and pure and free. I can almost see her running home, tears streaming down her face. I can see her flinging off her filthy, torn clothes, scrubbing her bruised and battered body, stripping off the chains of demonism and washing her tangled, crusty hair. As she cried and stripped and scrubbed a new Mary Magdalene emerged; simple, pure and clean.

Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James and Joses, and Salome, followed Jesus throughout Galilee and on to that fateful night when he was brutally crucified.  For a teacher of the time to have women followers was unheard of and it shows the distinctive character of Jesus ministry and the pure love, genuine concern and gratitude of this loyal group of women.  Mary Magdalene must have been in that joyous crowd as they exalted Him as their King as he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. She must have thought His time had finally come! The Messiah was finally going to liberate them from Rome.

Exhilarating, joyous, HOSANNA, palms, happiness, crowds, shouts of victory.

But then in the space of a few hours her world was torn upside down. She must have cringed at the hurling insults, vicious lies, ridicule, deceit, suffering, and agony. Her heart must have broke as she followed in the crowd as Jesus stumbled towards Golgotha. And she was there when the nails were pounded in his hands; tears, grief, numbness, hopelessness, anger, fear, noise, confusion. And Jesus precious mother, she was there also. They must have clenched each other’s hands and shook with sobs. There was no need for words. Words failed to comfort. Pain, grief, despair. Then it was over, He died. Relief that it as over so quickly. Deep loneliness. There was no way to take it all in or begin to understand. She watched from a distance as Joseph and Nicodemus lovingly removed his mutilated body from the cross and quickly wrapped it in a cloth for burial. These were quiet men. She didn’t know they cared so much about Jesus. She couldn’t even move to help.

Jesus needed a decent burial. The Sabbath hours were approaching and rigid rules legislated what they could and could not do. No one dared the wrath of disobeying them. They hadn’t come prepared for death and burial. This was way beyond their foresight and comprehension. Where could they go? This town wasn’t their home. They were exhausted, broken and numb. Grateful for the invitation they struggled to the house of another sympathetic woman.

I doubt Mary or any of the other women slept that night. The raw grief of Jesus mother; they thought they couldn’t bear it. They probably all huddled together in a dimly lit and locked room; grief, whispered conversation, exhausted, restlessness, fretful, nightmarish sleep. Darkness blacker than night, unrelenting quietness, a night that would never end. Nothing, nothing had prepared them for the tumult of this sudden change of events. They had not expected Him to die. He was the longed-for Messiah, the Son of God, their Messiah and King.

Saturday; long, dreary, confusion. News of Judas’ suicide: betrayal, questions, anger, no-understanding. Memories: His smile, miracles, healings, crowds, noise, teaching, stories and words; words that brought life, freedom and victory. Oh, He did talk of death sometimes. But did he mean this? Why didn’t his disciples protect him?

God! Where was God?

The unholiness of a holy Sabbath; repugnant, nauseating, and farce. For the first-time questions…Who really was this man? Why? Had they misunderstood?  How had this happened so quickly? Why didn’t God intervene? In huddled conversation the women knew what they wanted to do. They could at least give him a proper burial. They would anoint his body with spices.

I can visualize them quietly slipping out to neighboring houses, gathering the spices. No markets were open. It was the Sabbath! Finally, they were ready. It was still very early in the morning. Dark, damp, cool, and quiet. They had to go before the angry crowds surged again in the street. Pulling their veils snugly over their heads they talked in hushed whispers as they walked. Would they be seen? What would the guards at the tomb do? They suddenly remembered that a huge stone was put in front of the tomb. What would they do? They were women. They could not move that huge rock.


And then, they were at the tomb. The stone was gone. They stopped in stunned fear. No! NO! The unthinkable had happened. Someone had vandalized the tomb over night. Sacred ground was violated. A hurried glance revealed the tomb was empty. Earthquake!!! The ground shook and trembled. She fell on the ground shaking uncontrollably.

Paralyzing fear.

Peter. She had to tell Peter. Struggling to her feet she fled. Gasping and sobbing she told a stunned Peter and John, “They have taken away our Lord and we do not know where they have laid him.” Instantly Peter and John raced towards the tomb. Mary stumbled back to the tomb. She didn’t know what else to do.

John out-ran Peter and got to the tomb first. Stunned he gazed at the sight. He paused at the door. Stooping down, he peered inside. He could see the linen cloths lying on the stone shelf. At that moment Peter arrived and barged into the tomb. John followed. There they were, two piles; the linen cloths and the handkerchief that had been around his head, both neatly folded. They looked at each other. Sudden recollection. It is true. YES, IT IS TRUE! Quickly they turned and ran, forgetting that Mary was lingering in the shadows.

Sobs shook her body. Finally she stooped down and looked in. A sob caught in her throat. Angels, two of them. The significance of who they were barely registered. They asked her why she was weeping. Didn’t they understand? Maybe they knew where Jesus was taken. As she turned from the tomb she almost bumped into a man. She thought he was the gardener. “Oh, sir, if you have carried Him away, please tell me where you have laid him.”

“Mary!” Her heart almost exploded within her. She flung herself at his feet, Clutching them tightly. Tears continued flowing but now they were tears of joy. She lifted her eyes and looked straight into his piercing eyes “Rabboni-Teacher”.

Relief, joy, peace, worship.

Mary Magdalene encountered the risen Jesus. She believed.
Peter and John saw evidence of the risen Christ and they believed.


Her love for Jesus was pure, sincere and from a grateful heart. Jesus came to her and even though she didn’t recognize him at first, He ministered to her tenderly in the midst of her deep grief, fear, unbelief, hurt and anguish. He called her name-she recognized the voice of Jesus.

Today we encounter Jesus through the power of the written word, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the testimony of other believers and the miracle of changed lives. Do we believe? Do we recognize his voice?

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