My dear Proverbs 31 women in progress, greetings!
I am sorry that I couldn’t write a new post last weekend… but it was Easter and I spent time with my family, especially with my 11-month-old nephew that I love so much!
Well, today, I hesitated about the subject of today’s post. I had the choice between another woman from the Old Testament and a female character from the New Testament. And Mary Magdalene prevailed!
So today, I will examine in details Mary Magdalene’s life. She is a controversial figure in the Christian Church and some of you might even question her presence in my Worthy Women Series. After all, she was a repentant prostitute, wasn’t she?
However, through the shining light of the Scripture, and after many centuries of speculations and false reputation, this post will hopefully reveal who was Mary Magdalene.
Now, will the real Mary Magdalene please come forward?!
Name: Mary Magdalene
Meaning: Mary means “bitterness”. Magdalene suggests that she came from a small town of Galilee named Magdala. However, some interpretations suggest that Magdalene is derived from the Hebrew word “Migdal”, which means “tower”
Lived during the Biblical Times (during Jesus’ Ministry and probably beyond)
Family: her true family is unknown; but it can be safely said that Jesus and the apostles were her family
Her qualities: loving and tender to Jesus, faithful to Jesus until His death, even when many of His friends (i.e. many of his disciples) abandoned Him
Her sadness: being tortured by seven demons at some point of her life
Nothing is known about Mary Magdalene’s early life, or about her family background. The Gospels introduce her as a woman who followed Jesus and that Jesus casted seven demons out of her. Some Christian scholars say that she had a severe mental illness. Also, the Gospels precise that she supported Jesus’ Ministry with her property, suggesting that she was rather well-off.
Mary Magdalene was also present at the cross when Jesus was crucified and when He was buried. I can hardly imagine the pain she must have endured – her beloved Master that she followed during all this time, killed!
However, it is after Jesus’ death that her faithfulness was shown. In the Gospel of John, it is reported that she comes on the first day to visit the tomb of Jesus and anoint Him with spices – they couldn’t do that before as it was the Sabbath day – but she saw that the stone was rolled and panicked. She thought that the body of Jesus was taken away and told Peter. But let’s examine what happened afterwards:
But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.
John 20: 11-18
This passage is so emotional that I almost cried! You can feel all the tenderness and the powerful love that existed between Mary Magdalene and Jesus. At the beginning, Mary Magdalene is so focused on her grief that she doesn’t recognize Jesus at the beginning. But when He called her by Her name, she recognized Him and all the tenderness she has for Him shows off! Can you see the extent of the power of Christ?
After Jesus ascended to Heaven, Mary Magdalene was probably among the women who prayed for the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Pentecost Day. However, her name is not mentioned in the Scripture anymore, so we don’t know what she did afterwards and when she died.
Although… a fiercely persisting French legend tells that Mary Magdalene came in the South of France to evangelize this part of the world and that she died there. There is no evidence of her presence in the South of France; but I am French and I just thought that it was a nice way to end her story 😉
- As we have seen earlier, Mary Magdalene is not described as a prostitute in the Gospels. This conception of Mary Magdalene as a repentant prostitute came out in the 6th century AD when Pope Gregory I identified Mary Magdalene with the sinner who anoints Jesus’feet and with Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus. This vision of Mary Magdalene persisted afterwards and was even adopted by some of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, such as Martin Luther
- Mary Magdalene’s name is the most quoted names of Jesus’ female followers in the Gospel
- Mary Magdalene’s testimony about the resurrection of Jesus might be the starting point of the Christian religion! Can you believe that?!
- There is an aprocryphal Gospel named the Gospel of Mary, which supposedly described the relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus as so special that it irritates the Apostles, and especially Peter. However, I haven’t read it so I cannot tell you more about it. Moreover, it is a gnostic text and probably contains heretic material, which is why the Church did not include it among the canonical Gospels
- There is also a belief that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married – it was especially a theory developed in the novel named The Da Vinci Code. Let me tell you something: if Jesus were married, the Gospels would have probably mentioned his wife. Do you know why? Because the Gospels hide nothing about his birth, his parents, his brothers and sisters… So why wouldn’t the Gospels mention his wife? Just because Jesus wasn’t married! And about the conspiracy theories saying that the Early Church decided to hide that Jesus was married because nobody would accept a married God – please give me a break…
What we can learn about Mary Magdalene
I must say that Mary Magdalene’s story is deeply moving because it shows how Jesus can heal us and love us beyond human proportions. When Jesus healed Mary Magdalene, she became litteraly born again – she was a new creature and was willing to follow Him and to surrender all her being to Him. I think that Mary Magdalene is very close to us because her story shows that once we are willing to follow Christ and to abide in Him, nothing can separate us from His love.
Also, Mary Magdalene experienced a relationship with Christ which makes her whole. She didn’t need anything else because once she came out from the darkness and tasted how the Lord was good, she felt that the love of the Lord was beyond compare. I don’t think that there is a similar relationship between two human beings in the Bible (maybe David and Jonathan, and I wouldn’t dare to compare it to any relationship with Christ).
Wow, this post was quite interesting… and quite long! What do you think about Mary Magdalene’s life lessons? Please share your point of view and don’t hesitate to comment!
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