Who Was Mary Magdalene?

Mary Magdalene is a well known biblical figure. Most people would say she was a friend of Jesus. Yet, she is only mentioned in the scriptures fourteen times and her reputation is often unwarranted.

Mary Magdalene is mentioned in the New Testament. Technically, she is Mary of Magdala; Magdala being her hometown. Magdala was a village on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. She was a key figure in those who were influenced and followed Jesus. She was known to stay beside Jesus throughout his crucifixion and she was one of the women who attended his tomb, only to find it empty. Perhaps the climax in the story of Mary Magdalene was when Jesus appeared to her at the tomb. She was the first person to see Jesus after his resurrection and the first to share the news of his resurrection.

Mary was often associated with an unnamed woman in the bible who was described as ‘a sinner’. Modern scholarship now believes that Mary is not this woman. Many believe that Mary was a ‘repentant prostitute’ but there is no evidence to support such a reputation. The bible actually depicts Mary as a pure, though afflicted woman. She is mentioned in the gospels fourteen times. These references depict Mary as a leader of women. She is often named in connection with other women, but always heads the list. She is described as being utterly devoted to Jesus.

Mary was healed by Jesus. He demanded her demons leave her and a miracle occurred. After the miracle, Mary was once again whole. Mary’s behaviour showed her deep gratitude towards Jesus for saving her. Following on from this, Mary became a disciple. She travelled with Jesus and aided him in his mission.

When Jesus died at Golgotha, Mary is identified as one of the woman who refused to leave him. As she followed him, she continued to minister to him. She was present in Pilate’s hall when Jesus’ death sentence was pronounced. She witnessed the ill treatment of Jesus and wept as she did so. She saw him being lead to Calvary. She stood and wept at the bottom of the crucifix. She was with him when he took his last breath.

Mary is named in all four gospels as one of the women present at the tomb. The Gospel of John names her as the first witness to Jesus’ resurrection. Unlike the apostles, who fled and scattered, who lost faith, Mary stayed.

We can all learn from Mary Magdalene. We can learn that Jesus can heal us all, as he did for her. And we can learn what is means to be Jesus’ faithful servant, as Mary so clearly was.

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