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Mary Magdalene

Updated: Mar 3





The SimplyRevised Podcast





We are embarking on a new journey through a lesson series, Bearing Witness, as we explore the significance of women in the New Testament. In the tapestry of the New Testament are woven the lives of women with remarkable stories of faith, courage, leadership, and strength, who bore witness to the transformative power of Jesus and whose stories can often be overlooked. Women who helped shape early Christian communities and who had a profound impact on the Kingdom of God. I hope to see their stories, learn, and draw insights from their lives for our lives today. Let's explore the significance of women in the New Testament together.


As we begin our series, I would like for us to consider a woman who, among other women, supported the ministry of Jesus. She was a faithful and devoted follower of Jesus and supported Jesus of her own means. We know her best as the woman Jesus healed of seven evil spirits, Mary Magdalene. 


Luke 8:1–3 (NIV)

"After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means."


Meeting Jesus


Imagine walking where Mary Magdalene walked. Haunted by evil spirits, she encountered Jesus. I am sure, at times, she felt lost and experienced moments of brokenness or even hopelessness. However, when she met Jesus, she encountered redemption and transformation. 


Perhaps you've felt trapped by your past mistakes or overwhelmed by the weight of your struggles. Maybe you've experienced moments of doubt, wondering if anyone could truly understand or accept you. Mary Magdalene's story resonates with us because we see ourselves reflected in her journey. We know the longing for forgiveness, the desire for a new beginning, and the hope for redemption.


Misportrayed


Mary Magdalene has often been misunderstood. In some ways, she has been misrepresented. Nijay Gupta comments in Tell Her Story:  


"There is a popular myth still circulated today that Mary Magdalene was a harlot saved by Jesus. No New Testament text indicated that. What did happen is that some medieval texts tried to link Mary Magdalene to the "sinful woman" of Luke 7:36-50. But Mary is named in chapter eight (the very next chapter), so this association is unlikely, because Luke would have made that clear."

Mary of Magdalene is someone we can relate to. She is someone often misunderstood. However, we see the story of redemption and encountering Jesus in her life.


Key Moments 


Through the pages of the New Testament, Mary is displayed at key and significant moments in the story of God's redemption through Jesus. As we have already noticed, Mary traveled extensively with Jesus. Not only does she travel and learn from the Master teacher, Jesus, but she, with others, supports his work and ministry financially (ref. Lk. 8:2-3).


Matthew and Mark place Mary at the crucifixion and later at his burial (Matt. 27:56, 61; Mk. 15:40, 47). The gospel author John also recognizes Mary of Magdalene at the cross and Jesus' crucifixion (Jn. 19:25). In an extensive account, John recalls the story of Jesus appearing to Mary as she encounters the risen Lord.   


On the first day of the week, the first Easter morning, Mary goes to the tomb of Jesus early in the morning while it is still dark (Jn. 20:1). She finds the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. She runs back to tell the other disciples, and they all rush to the tomb together. As Mary has reported, the body of Jesus is not there. 


John 20:10–18 (NIV)

"Then the disciples went back to where they were staying. 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"). Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.”


Sometimes, the story can be one we've read so often that we miss the significance. Did you hear the good news? Mary Magdalene, a woman whose story is found in the tapestry of the New Testament Scriptures, who experienced the redemption of Jesus, was the first to announce the good news of the resurrected Lord. "I have seen the Lord!" Jesus chose Mary to be the first to carry the message of his resurrection. 


Met in Brokenness 


Mary encountered Jesus, and her life was transformed. I am sure she carried wounds from her past or scars that stuck. However, she experienced a new beginning when she met Jesus. Her identity was in Christ, and her past did not define her. She became a devoted and faithful follower of her Redeemer through his grace. 


Jesus meets us in our brokenness. Our mistakes do not disqualify us from his love. Our life in him is not a repeat of our past. In Christ, we are made new. In Christ, we find hope in knowing our past does not determine our future. In him, we are redeemed where we find his forgiveness and reconciliation. In Christ, brokenness is met with compassion as we experience his love. 


Tell His Story


Looking back at Mary of Magdalene through the pages of the New Testament, we find a story of redemption, love, and devotion. We see a life transformed and a person who lived her life to tell his story. 


Today, we need to learn from the story of Mary that Jesus and the good news is redemption. His redemption is for today, just as it was for the life of Mary. In receiving his redemption, like Mary of Magdalene, we should become devoted followers who live to tell his story. 


Will you tell his story of redemption? A story of good news.



notes:

Scripture references and quotations are from the: Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


1.  Gupta, Nijay K. Tell Her Story: How Women Led, Taught, and Ministered in the Early Church. IVP Academic, 2023. p. 62.

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