Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there,but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her,“Woman, why are you crying?Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her,“Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic,“Rabboni!”(which means “Teacher”).
One of the most mentioned women in the New Testament. She is also the most misunderstood, rumored, and gossiped about woman from the Bible. She has been called a prostitute. She has even been called the mistress or wife of Jesus. Art, books, movies, and plays have only served to perpetuate these erroneous attributes.
So, who is this Mary Magdalene actually?
Mary was one of the most common names in her day, so to distinguish her from the other New Testament women, she is always referred to by the town she grew up: Magdala (“Tower”) Tarichaea (“Salted Fish”). Located on the coast of Galilee, it was once a thriving seafaring and textile town; now it is nonexistent. According to Jewish text, this place did have a seedy reputation, which is possibly one of the aspects that has added to the rumors. This is also one of the reasons scholars believe she was not married as she would have been referred to differently.
Mary was possessed by seven demons. Her torment was probably beyond what we can even imagine, with evil forces battling inside her. She was most likely in great disarray and anguish when she encountered Jesus: hair disheveled, movements beyond control, eyes glaring or afflicted... But this sought-after teacher and Messiah, Jesus, had compassion on her and healed her of this terrible infliction. (Luke 8:1-3; Mark 16:9)
This marked her. It changed her. She had an encounter with Jesus, and she was forever changed. She was grateful, and she showed it with her actions.This is what scholars agree marks Mary the most: Mary was devoted to Jesus.
Mary left her life in Magdala behind and traveled with other women who also had been healed and helped to care for the needs of Jesus and his disciples as they traveled from town to town. Mary was with Jesus at the beginning of his ministry, and she helped support his ministry financially. (Mark 15:40-41; Luke 8:1-3)
Three years later, when Jesus’ ministry ended on this earth, being wrongly accused, sentenced and crucified, she was still there. While many other followers fled, she was there, faithful, near the excruciatingly-painful death on a cross of her beloved mentor. (Mark 15:40-41; John 19:25; Luke 23:49)
Mary was there after he died, at the tomb, to take care of his body. (Mark 15:47; Luke 23:55-56; Matthew 27:61)
And she was there on the most monumental day in history: his resurrection. (Mark 16:1-11; John 20:1-18; Luke 24:1-11; Matthew 28:1-10)
Jesus honored Mary with the first appearance of his resurrected body and the first words from his lips. The gamut of emotions that must have run through Mary that day: inconsolable grief at the tomb, shock and fear at the rolled-away stone and the appearance of angels, to unrelenting relief and exuberant joy at the sight of her beloved.
And Jesus did even more. He honored Mary with the start of a new movement. The biggest in history. One that would rock the entire world. A woman?! Unheard of in Jesus day! But that’s how much Jesus valued and elevated women. We see it throughout Scripture. And this is how much he loved and trusted Mary. Jesus told her to tell his disciples about what she had seen. Thus she was the first one commissioned to spread the good news.
And just as we see how Jesus valued and loved Mary Magdalene, he loves you too. He loves you like no earthly man can. His love is pure and comes with no strings attached. He delights in you. He is for you. Mary Magdalene met Jesus and was forever changed. When we truly meet Jesus and understand who he is and what he has done for us, we are changed as well. Once we fully grasp this amazing love as Mary Magdalene did, our lives will be an expression of love and gratitude.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. —Psalm 34:8a
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! —Philippians 2:1-2, 5-8
Note: Fashioned to Reign by Kris Vallotton is a great analysis of Scripture showing women’s importance and role in ministry.