Mary Magdalene

Pastor Tommy Wensil

Mk. 16:9; Jn. 20:11-18

The Bible records the stories of ungodly and godly, men and women, without favor and with divine accuracy. The lives of Bible characters give us insight into the history of divine grace and the power of the Savior. Only Jesus could take 11 misfits from the world and transform them into mighty messengers of the Gospel of Christ! Thus in every page of the divine library of biographies we learn of the grace and greatness of God in reaching and redeeming sinners for the glory of our great King. Women were very important to the ministry of Jesus Christ– they were the last at the Cross, the first at the tomb, and among those who were the most sacrificial and dedicated servants of the Savior.

I. Setting–

The setting and background of Mary’s life reveals that she is one of the most intriguing and captivating women in all of the Bible. (Note these passages in study Mt. 27:56,61; 28:1; Mk. 15:40,47; 16:1,9; Lk.8:2,3; 24:10; Jn.19:25; 20:1,18).

A. Personality–

No name is so common among women today as the honored name "Mary." Perhaps it is due to the divine choice of the virgin who bears the same name– chosen to bring forth the Christ child. The name Mary is mentioned at least 54 times in the New Testament and as such a number of different women bear this favored name.

Magdalene– identifies the place of her birth or the place of her home, much like "Jesus of Nazareth," identifies the Savior as a man from the town of Nazareth. Magdala was a populous, thriving coastal town of Galilee about 3 miles from Capernaum. It was noted for its dye works and cloth production. The association of her name with the town may also indicate she was a woman of means.

B. Prominence–

She is mentioned at least 12 times in the N.T. and in 8 of those instances she is mentioned with a company of godly women who were the most devoted followers of Jesus. Often in Bible list’s we find that those who are listed first are prominent as leaders, older in respect to the others, or more spiritually mature. Significantly, she is normally listed first in these lists which denotes prominence, maturity and responsibility. Mary, therefore, was a leader among the most dedicated female followers of Christ.

II. Salvation– Lk. 8:2,3; Mk. 16:9

When looking closer at the Gospels we learn how she became such a dedicated follower of Christ. We are not told the details of how she met the Lord but we are given some insight as to what she had been before she met the Lord of life.

A. Deliverance– Mk. 16:9 "seven devils" (Lk. 8:2b)

At some point in her life prior to knowing Christ her body was inhabited by seven demons. Only Christ can free the heart (Mt. 12:43-45) and fill the heart with His presence (Jn. 1:12). Since modern believers are not given the authority of "exorcism" only Christ can free a person from demons through the new birth. Although the details of the experience are not given there was a time when she met the liberator of souls and the Lord of life and was loosed from the very powers of Hell. Only Jesus can brake the bands of demons and free a soul to walk in the light. Thus Mary was delivered from the presence of demons through the power of Christ.

B. Discipleship–

After she met the Lord and was delivered from the power of Satan the Scripture makes plain that she followed the Lord in whole hearted devotion. She was a servant of the Lord and one of the most dedicated female disciples of Christ.

1. In Life– Lk. 8:2,3 "women...ministered unto him"

She became an asset to the work of the master and a servant of the Savior. Whatever skill she possessed, whatever gain she had was given over to the work of the Savior to the glory of her King. It is remarkable that we never find a mention of the Savior asking for money, yet it seems that those who had means consistently gave into His treasury so that He might do the Father’s will. How much their sacrifice must have meant to the Savior.

2. In Death– Jn. 19:25; Mk. 15:41

When the apostles had fled, Judas had betrayed the Master with his fatal kiss– a faithful band of women were holding fast, and following on to Cross where Jesus would die for the sins of the world.

She watched as they nailed him to the Cross, she stood in the distance as the Lord of her life bled out His life at the place of the skull (Lk 23:49). She watched and listened to every word from His dying lips. She stood in the darkness that veiled the earth while for 3 hours our Savior paid the price for sin. She watched as the soldier pierced his side with the sword.

As soon as burial had been completed the Scripture reveals the Mary Magdalen was one of the first at the tomb: Mat 27:61 "And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre. (Jn. 20:1) {It seems she waited for a while at the tomb before returning to prepare the spices}.Then Mark’s gospel reveals that Christ appeared first to Mary Magdalene. Mark 16:9 "Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils." There is not one negative thing said about Mary in all the Bible, instead of a blight upon the pages of Scripture she is a great blessing to all!

C. Discovery– Jn. 20:1; 11-18

The last portion that defines the life of Mary is found in John 20. It is the first Easter Sunday morning when she arrived at the tomb.

1. Went to the tomb– Jn. 20:1 (first to wait)

She was at the tomb "when it was yet dark"-- early to visit the place of her Lord. Being the first to arrive at the tomb it was a time of deep emotion for her. She wept at the entrance (Jn. 20:11) then discovered two heavenly ministers and messengers who questioned her sorrow (Jn. 20:11-13). In the process of her inquiry she spotted a man whom she believed to be the gardener– who asked "Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? (Jn. 20:15)

2. Wondered at His Word– Jn. 20:16 (first to wonder)

When turning to respond to whom she thought was the gardener– He spoke her name. Mary recognized His voice– It was this voice that had bade the demons to flee from her soul, this voice that had led her though Galilee and this voice spoke peace anew to her heart. When He called her by name her heart was filled and thrilled once again to be in His presence.

Her answer to the resurrected Lord is very significant. We are told that the Hebrew title "Rabboni" was actually given in 3 forms. The name "Rab" means master and refers to the lowest degree of honor. The name "Rabbi" means "my master" and is a title of higher dignity (Jn. 1:38). The name Rabboni came to mean "my great master." Christ was Mary’s great master and Lord and she was overwhelmed when He called her by name. Her gloom turned to gladness in the presence of the Lord (Jn. 16:22).

3. Witnessed of His Work– Jn. 20:18 (first to witness)

At first she witnessed to a weary disciple. She was given the commission by the angel to go tell the disciples "and Peter" the news of the resurrected Lord and of the Saviors desire to meet with Peter (the backslider) at Galilee (Mk. 16:7). She also told the other 10 of the Saviors resurrection and of His appearance at the tomb (Jn. 20:18). She became the first witness of the resurrected Savior to leave the tomb and tell of the good news. Her assurance of the living Savior brought victory for the future into her life.