The Disciples: Mary Magdalene

You might be wondering why I have included Mary Magdalene in this series on The Disciples. If you view the Bible with a patriarchal lens you would naturally do so, despite her name being mentioned 12 times in the Gospels – more than most of the men. God’s Word, all 4 gospels, declare her and other female disciples, such as Martha, a couple of other Marys, Joanna & Susanna and others to be a part of Jesus’ intimate, inner circle of disciples. From the beginning, Jewish women had accompanied Jesus during his ministry and supported him out of their private means. Mary Magdalene was born in Magdala- a booming fish town on the shores of the sea of Galilee.

Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their own resources. – Luke 8:1-3 (also Mark 16:9)

The encounter she had where Jesus delivered her is not actually recorded in the gospels. To be indwelt by seven evil spirits, she would have been emotionally, mentally and maybe even physically, battered and bruised. She was living a life under that dark cloud that was not really worth living. The number 7 is the biblical number meaning ‘completeness’. So, by having 7 demons in her, we know she was completely controlled by those demons and she was completely miserable – that is, until Jesus set her free! Wow! Can you just imagine the wonderful freedom she felt when that burden was lifted? She had been living a life of absolute misery and then she was free! No wonder she then chose to dedicate herself to following Jesus! It has been frequently taught that Mary Magdalene was a woman of abandoned character. Most scholars today it is wrong to identify her with the disreputable woman caught in adultery in Luke 7. What is true is to believe that she was a woman who had a very deep spiritual need.

Mary Magdalene had gone from being a sinful woman with multiple demons in her to meeting Jesus, to being saved. From that point on, her devotion to Jesus never failed or wavered. She helped and supported Him as He spread the Good News. She was with Him as He ministered and healed people. She was with Him most likely at the last supper, when he was arrested. All four gospels attest that she witnessed Jesus crucifixion, death and burial, she hung around. She helped anoint His body for burial and watched to see where it was buried, otherwise, the disciples might not have known where. She was more devoted, courageous and steadfast to the mission than any of her male counterparts. Then she went with two other women early in the morning a couple of days later to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. Finding the tomb empty, Mary ran to the disciples.

The following shows her Resurrection Encounter with Jesus:

  • JOHN 20:12-14, tells of a man standing beside her. She did not recognize Him, but that man was Jesus Christ, the risen Savior and Son of God Almighty! The angels asked why she was crying, and through her tears and catching her breath between sobs, she said, “They have taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where they have taken him”
  • MATTHEW 28:6 says that man lovingly said to her: “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” As these words were being spoken, life on earth changed. What had been a hope, now became a proof. A proof of eternal life that each one of us can also have, but only through a solid belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of the living God.
  • JOHN 20:15 tells us she though he was the gardener then v.16 tells us what he said next. “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary’. She turned, and said to him, ‘Rabboni’ which means, Teacher. To take away her blindness all He had to do was mention her name and she instantly recognised Him. She fell to his feet and clung to Him but He told her what He had already told his disciples. (John 16:7)
  • JOHN 20:17, Jesus told her “Don’t cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go find my brothers and tell them.” When Jesus told Mary to go and tell the others, He made her the first preacher of the new Gospel.
  • JOHN 20:18 She returned to the disciples and told them she had ‘seen the Lord’. Her message was short, but it held all the wonder of God; JESUS IS ALIVE! She became an Apostle to the Apostles. She was the first to witness Jesus alive and the first to preach it.


How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns.”  – Is. 52:7

After Jesus Ascension, some historical sources say she accompanied John to the city of Ephesus, near modern Selcuk, Turkey, where she died and was buried. Other traditions describe her as evangelizing as far north as southern France.

When Jesus called her name, she recognised Him as the Risen Lord. She clung to Him and God saw her unwavering commitment to serve Him gave her blessings beyond measure. Jesus took the time to say her name and in doing so He assured her of His everlasting love for her. God knows your name too. How do you feel when God calls your name? What is your response?

PRAYER: Lord thanks you for the life of Mary Magda. Thank you for the reassurance it gives of equality in your Kingdom, to your call and to your Mission. Lord when I hear you call my name, I pray I can respond as she did with an unwavering, courageous devotion to you and your call to preach the good news of how I came to know you. Please, even, bring someone along today with whom I can share this. In Jesus Name, Amen.

(Written by Ange van der Leeuw)

SONG: Jesus, All For Jesus by Robin Mark