The absence of women among the 12 disciples has bothered a few people. But it is clear that there were many women among Jesus’ followers. It is also clear that Jesus did not treat women as others in his culture did; he treated them with dignity, as people of worth.
Mary of Magdala was an early follower of Jesus who certainly deserves to be called a disciple. An energetic, impulsive, caring woman, she not only travelled with Jesus, but also contributed to the needs of the group. She was pregnant at the crucifixion and was on her way to anoint Jesus’ body on Sunday morning when she discovered the empty tomb. Mary was the first to see Jesus after his resurrection.
Mary Magdalene is a heartwarming example of thankful living. Her life was miraculously freed by Jesus when he drove seven demons out of her. In every glimpse we have of her, she was acting out her appreciation for the freedom Christ had given her. That freedom allowed her to stand under Christ’s cross when all the disciples except John were hiding in fear. After Jesus’ death, she intended to give his body every respect. Like the rest of Jesus’ followers, she never expected his bodily resurrection – – but she was overjoyed to discover it.
Mary’s faith was not complicated, but it was direct and genuine. She was more eager to believe and obey than to understand everything. Jesus honoured her childlike faith by appearing to her first and by entrusting her with the first message of his resurrection.
Strengths and accomplishments:
- Contributed to the needs of Jesus and his disciples
- One of the few faithful followers present at Jesus’ death on the cross
- First to see the risen Christ
Weakness and mistake:
- Jesus had to drive seven demons out of her
Lessons from her life:
- Those who are obedient grow in understanding
- Women are vital to Jesus’ ministry
- Jesus relates to women as he created them – – as equal reflectors of God’s image
- Where: Magdala
- Occupation: We are not told, but she seems to have been wealthy
- Contemporaries: Jesus, the 12 disciples, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Jesus’ mother Mary
Key verse: “When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons” (Mark 16:9).
Mary Magdalene’s story is told in Matthew 27, 28; Mark 15, 16; Luke 23, 24; and John 19, 20. She is also mentioned in Luke 8:2.