Mary Magdalene – Part 1

Linking up with I am Just One Girl today for her Chasing History series.  One woman, one life-time ago, a multitude of promises and lessons for today.  Won’t you join us? 

I have to admit.  In fact, I am somewhat ashamed to admit, that when I sat down to write about Mary Magdalene I was crafting a post based on pre-conceived notions.  Stringing thoughts and words together based on misconception and popular thought rather than doggedly searching for facts. 

When I sat down to write about Mary Magdalene I thought I was going to tell you about a “Certain immoral woman [who] heard he was there and brought a beautiful jar filled with expensive perfume.  Then she knelt behind him at his feet weeping.  Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair.  Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.” Luke 7: 37 &38 – NLT

When I sat down to write about Mary Magdalene I thought I was going to tell you about a “Woman they had caught in the act of adultery…” John 8:3 .  You know the rest of that story.  It would have ended very badly for her had Jesus not challenged the Pharisees. 

When I sat down to write about Mary Magdalene those were the stories that I thought I would tell you about. 

But guess what?  While those stories show the incredible compassion, grace and mercy of a loving Saviour, and they are stories worth telling, they are not Mary Magdalene’s story. 

There is no biblical evidence that Mary was a prostitute or woman of ill repute. 

 Here are some highlights of Mary Magdalene’s life

She had been possessed by 7 demons (Luke 8:2)

She may have come from a town with a dubious reputation, but then so did Jesus       
 ” ‘Nazareth’ exclaimed Nathanael.’ Can anything good come from there?’ ” (John 1:46)

She was a woman of independent means, she was “contributing from [her] own resources to support Jesus and his disciples”  (Luke 8:2)

She is mentioned more times than any other woman in the gospels

She most likely held a position of leadership among her peers – her name precedes the name of other women when listed as a group in the gospels, including, Mary, the mother of Jesus (exception John 19:25), suggesting a place of prominence amongst his followers.

She was one of the few of Jesus’ followers – men and women – who witnessed the crucifixion AND stuck around for the burial.

The part of Mary Magdalene’s story however, that causes me to catch  my breath every time I read it is this –  her complete and unparalleled devotion to Jesus at the end of his life and the fact that she was the first person, the very FIRST person to witness him after the resurrection. 

According to the gospel of Mark (15:47), she was present at the foot of the cross and  she was there to  witness the burial.  The book of Matthew describes this moment as Mary sitting and watching the tomb (27:61).  I’d like to think that had the Sabbath not interrupted her watch she would have remained where she was all night.   

At the time of his crucifixion many of the other disciples of Jesus had “gotten the heck” out of Dodge.  It was a scary time, a tumultuous time and the threat of death was very, very real.  They weren’t sticking around.

Mary Magdalene was in it for the long haul.  She was not deterred by a bloody and horrific crucifixion scene. 

She watched as the crown of thorns dug deep into his forehead, the same forehead, where hours earlier, he had sweat drops of blood.  She watched as the soldiers pressed his skin-torn back on the rough and splintered beam of a cross.  She was there when the cruel sound of iron striking iron ripped through flesh and tendon.  She heard death’s thud as the cross settled into that hill.  She heard every gasp for air as Jesus slowly suffocated.  Her heart may very well have stopped for a brief moment when “… he said, ‘It is finished!’ “ John 19:30.  Mary Magdalene was there for it all.

“Mary Magdalene chose to be there.  However painful, however agonizing it was to watch him die, faithful Mary Magdalene wanted not only to see him, but also to be seen by him, offering her silent support”
-Liz Curtiz Higgs (Unveiling Mary Magdalene)

Mary Magdalene, mis-represented, mis-understood, seeming mis-fit provides us with perhaps, one of the most beautiful and tangible lessons about being in  deep and lasting relationship with Jesus.  Her very life and her actions prove that Jesus not only longs for our companionship, he looks for it, seeks us out.  He wants nothing more than to be able to look at us and know that we want nothing more than Him.  For us to know that He is our everything.

I can’t wait to tell you more about Mary Magdalene’s story.  How she was the first person to encounter Jesus after his resurrection and how He called her by name.  Won’t you join me next week as we continue to explore this AMAZING woman of God.

I would like to take a moment to point  you all in the direction of an incredible book that helped me to see past what I thought to be true and challenged my misconceptions.  Liz Curtis Higgs’ book Unveiling Mary Magdalene is a masterfully woven allegorical tale and study that pulls together impeccably researched facts from the Bible, the Talmud and other ancient texts to paint a more accurate picture of one of the most mis-represented women of the Bible.


  1. Love it, Tonya! What a great look at her devotion to Christ. I’m curious to see what you touch on next week, because I recently took a look at how her faith was shaken after His death… 🙂 Happy Monday, friend!

    • Thank you Vanessa… Mary M. was so misunderstood and I can’t wait to uncover some of what she experienced during Jesus’ final days.

  2. I’ve often thought that Mary Magdalene was misinterpreted. Looking forward to reading Part 2!

  3. I am really enjoying reading these ~ You ladies are doing a great job! Praise God. Keep it up. Thanks for sharing, God bless!

  4. Already looking forward to next week’s post. Not gonna lie, I’ve never really understood her and her Story, so this was very helpful. Loved this part the most:

    Her very life and her actions prove that Jesus not only longs for our companionship, he looks for it, seeks us out. He wants nothing more than to be able to look at us and know that we want nothing more than Him. For us to know that He is our everything.

    • She is so often mis-understood – and mis-represented… so grateful that God pointed me in the right direction… and what a lesson to glean from her life… He looks for our companionship.

  5. Ever since playing her in local production of Jesus’ life many, many years ago, this Mary has been one of my favorite women in the Bible. There is such an intimate connection here – a passion for a relationship with Christ that I want to strive for: this seeing Jesus and being seen by Him. Love this so much – thank you for writing her story!

    • Rebekah, Me too – I think I connect with her because of some of the brokeness she experienced and to which I can relate… I too long to have that relationship with Christ and it is what I strive for daily.

  6. Bless you for sharing my title as a resource, Tonya! “Unveiling Mary Magdalene” is a real book of my heart. During the writing process I learned so much about Mary and the Lord she loved. What a woman! Even more, what a Savior!

    • Friend – It was a blessing to read it. I am so grateful for your wisdom and the way that God uses you to speak truth into countless lives. You bless friend. Truly.

  7. Tonya…you’ve done it again. Tears on my lunch break. Thank you, also, for the book recommendation.

  8. I love this, my friend! She is one of my favorites and I have touched often on her time at the tomb… I can’t wait to read your take on it – for I know it will stir my heart in all the same ways!

    On another note – those 2 hours today went by oh so quickly! We’ll plan another Skype/Coffee date soon!

    Love you!

    • Love you bunches Karrilee… my biggest cheerleader and soul sister… and 2 hours talking with you? Sort of like 2 seconds… {hugs}

  9. Mary is strong! I honestly don’t know if I would be able to stick around and witness every stage of Christ’s death. She was there through it all! She was strong and faithful! Can’t wait for part 2!

    • She was strong wasn’t she? Strong and devoted and had a longing for something more in her relationship with Him… thank you so much for stopping by here friend.

Leave a Reply