Who Is Mary Magdalene?

“Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. ‘Dear woman, why are you crying?’ the angels asked her. ‘Because they have taken away my Lord,’ she replied, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.'” John 20:11-13, NLT

Profile from the Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition

The Absence of women among the 12 disciples has bothered a few people. But Jesus’ close followers clearly included many women. Also clear is the fact that Jesus did not treat women as others in his culture did; he treated them with dignity, as people with worth.

Mary of Magdala was an early follower of Jesus who certainly deserves to be called a disciple. An energetic, impulsive, and caring woman, she not only traveled with Jesus but also contributed to meeting the needs of his group. She was present at the Crucifixion and was on her way to anoint Jesus’ body on Sunday morning when she discovered the empty tomb. Mary was the first to see Jesus after his resurrection.

Mary Magdalene is a heartwarming example of thankful living. She was miraculously freed by Jesus when he drove seven demons out of her. In every glimpse we have of Mary, she was acting out her appreciation for the freedom Jesus had given her. That freedom allowed her to stand under Jesus’ cross when all the disciples except John were hiding in fear. After Jesus’ death, she intended to show his body every respect. Like the rest of Jesus’ followers, she never expected his bodily resurrection—but she was overjoyed to discover it.

Mary’s faith was not complicated; it was direct and genuine. She was more eager to believe and obey than to understand everything. Jesus honored her childlike faith by appearing to her first and by entrusting her as the first messenger of the Good News of his resurrection.

Strengths and accomplishments:

  • Contributed to the needs of Jesus and his disciples
  • One of the few faithful followers present at Jesus’ death on the cross

Notable facts:

  • Had to have seven demons driven out of her by Jesus
  • First to see Jesus after his resurrection

Lessons from her life:

  • Those who are obedient grow in understanding.
  • Women are vital to Jesus’ ministry.
  • Jesus relates to women as he created them—as equal to men and as bearers of God’s image.

Vital statistics:

  • Where: Magdala, Jerusalem
  • Occupation: We are not told, but she seems to have been wealthy
  • Contemporaries: Jesus, Jesus’ disciples, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Mary (Jesus’ mother)

Key verse: “After Jesus rose from the dead early on Sunday morning, the first person who saw himwas Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons.” (Mark 16:9)

Mary Magdalene’s story is told in Matthew 27–28; Mark 15–16; Luke 23–24; John 19–20. She is also mentioned in Luke 8:2.

Take a look inside the Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition

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