It’s been over two thousand years and still the rumours fly. There are so many falsehoods out there about Mary Magdalene that it’s hard to know what’s the truth unless you take the time to learn about her. Read the scriptures and a few commentaries. I’ve been doing some research on her over the last couple of months. She is a complex character who has been made to be larger than life. I think if she was alive today, she’s be surprised and embarrassed. She had a servant’s heart and the fact that people practically worship her instead of Jesus, would grieve her. So let’s clear up a few of those rumours.
Here are a few things Mary Magdalene was not:
Romantically involved with Jesus or any of the disciples. It’s a lie no matter how true Hollywood would like to make it. There is no scriptural evidence of this.at.all.
A prostitute. Again no scriptural evidence. She was not the woman who poured expensive oil over Jesus’ feet or the woman about to be stoned.
A figurehead for women’s movement. Many women like to hold up Mary Magdalene as an example of women’s liberation. As good as any man, maybe better. In all honesty, I’ve probably done it myself. It’s just the way we like to twist the truth to suit our own agendas. I believe she was a strong woman. An integral part of God’s plan. But it was to suit God’s will and purpose not anyone else’s.
Here are a few things Mary Magdalene was:
A woman who was possessed by seven demons. Demonic possession meant that Mary Magdalene was a social pariah. She wasn’t allowed to be with people. She was unclean. Jesus cast those demons out and healed her. Luke 8:1-3
She became a follower of Jesus and lived out a life of gratitude by serving Him and his disciples. She probably helped out monetarily as well. Luke 8:1-3
She witnessed the crucifixion. Unlike some of the disciples, she watched her Saviour die. She was incredibly brave. Mark 15:40-41
She was the first to see and talk with Jesus upon His resurrection. Mark 16:9
She was the one who was given the joyful mission of telling the disciples that Jesus was alive. Mark 16:10
These are incredible and wonderful things but what stands out for me is Mary Magdalene was included in the story of the Resurrection. She didn’t have to be. Why didn’t God let John or Peter be the first to see Jesus? To tell of His victory over death? Instead God choose to use Mary, an uneducated woman who had once been possessed by demons. Was it because she was superior in any way? No. If you’ve read any of the bible at all, you realize that God isn’t into superiority when it comes to people. Nor is He concerned with promoting anyone’s agenda. God doesn’t tell us why He chose Mary but here are a couple of my own thoughts.
God says it himself. He’s concerned with our hearts not our outward appearances. (I Samuel 16:7) I think Mary Magdalene had a pure heart. A grateful heart. She lived her life out serving the one who had rescued her. She recognized the extreme gift of grace she had been given and never forgot it. She lived out her love for her Master by serving Him and those who served alongside him. She wasn’t in it for her glory. She just wanted to be near Jesus. To help out as He walked grace out for the rest of the people. If we’ve ever been truly grateful for something, then nothing can stop us from showing it. Mary’s life exemplified this.
She was a woman. In 1 Cor 1:27, it says: “Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.” (NLT) All the pharisees and religious leaders of the day thought they deserved honour and glory. They thought they had earned it. They did all the right things but their hearts were black. Jesus called them “vipers.” God isn’t interested in the religious elite or anyone who thinks they deserve to be. “There is no room for pride in God’s kingdom,” a very wise woman once told me. Mary was humble in heart and deed. It’s one of those upside down kingdom moments, when Jesus turns all our preconceived assumptions on their heads and shows us the truth of who He is and what He stands for.
Finally, Mary Magdalene was good enough to be used by God. The ancient world probably wouldn’t have agreed. She had a past that contained a few skeletons in her closet. Yet God didn’t see that at all. He didn’t need a perfect candidate to go tell the greatest news ever to the people who cared the most that day. He just needed somebody who loved His Son deeply. Who was present and willing. She was there early in the morning in that garden because she cared what happened to Jesus, even in death. She didn’t have to earn her way there. She was good enough, as she was.
So many times, we avoid Jesus or Easter or the cross because we think we aren’t good enough in some way. It’s a lie. Just like Mary, we have to be willing, present and have open hearts. It really doesn’t matter what litters our paths. The cross has a way of evening things out. Because in the end, there was only One who was good enough and He died, crushing death completely. So we didn’t have to be good enough to approach His Father. We could come. Just as we are.