Throughout the Bible, there are many stories of strong and heroic women. In this series, we explore a story of a faithful, biblical woman each month. With their strong faith, the women of the Bible continue to teach us how to live authentic, faith-filled lives. No matter what our circumstances are, we can find ourselves in their stories.
Mary Magdalene is one of the many Marys mentioned throughout the Bible. This has caused much confusion and speculation about who Mary Magdalene really was. Her last name was derived from her hometown of Magdala, which was a small fishing village close to Nazareth and Cana, a region that was regularly visited by Jesus.
Mary met Jesus when He cured her of a severe illness. Although historians often characterize her as being a prostitute as well as mentally ill, she is described in Scripture as a devoted follower and companion of Jesus. All four Gospels in the New Testament tell of her faithful discipleship. She became the leader of a group of women who traveled with Jesus and supported Him financially.
Mary Magdalene’s person demonstrates that women were significant in the discipleship of Jesus and the spread of the gospel. The early church, which came to be dominated by men, tended to downplay the role of women. Mary Magdalene was with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and unlike many of the other male disciples, she did not flee when Jesus was arrested. She stood by Jesus during his trial, and she stood near the cross, despite the danger of being present at His crucifixion.
It was after the crucifixion that one of the most significant events unfolded before Mary Magdalene. After Jesus’ death, Mary did not have the necessary burial spices to prepare His body for burial, and she was required to wait until the Sabbath was over to purchase the spices.
She gathered the supplies and went to His tomb, but she found it empty. She was weeping when the risen Jesus appeared before her and told her to go forth and spread the word that He was raised from the dead. With these words, Mary was commissioned as an apostle of Jesus. The fact she was the first witness to his resurrection is significant because, at the time, women generally were not considered reliable as witnesses.
Mary Magdalene is often referred to as the ‘apostle to the apostles’ by the Eastern Catholic churches and has been one of the most revered figures in Christian history. Mary is a role model for women in the church to serve Christ faithfully, regardless of social status. Jesus blesses those who are faithful to Him.