No, I'm not talking about music - this is about the most misunderstood woman in the Bible.

Mary Magdalene

This woman is so cool - she was a faithful follower of Christ during his days of teaching and she was the first person to see Christ after he had been resurrected!  And I've got news for you: this gal has been accused of something she did NOT do. I've researched every reference to her in the Scriptures and come to a conclusion that she is NOT the known prostitute woman who anoints Jesus's feet & wipes them with her hair at the home of the Pharisee!   Writer Phillip Yancey said it well: "The gospels mention only one fact of Mary Magdalene's past: that Jesus had driven 7 demons from her.  Nevertheless, a tradition grew that Mary must have been the same woman as the prostitute who washed Jesus' feet with her hair." 

 

Okay, here's the mention of the prostitute: in the book of Luke, chapter 7 verse 36, Jesus is at the home of a Pharisee for dinner.  It says 'a certain immoral woman heard he was there and brought a beautiful jar of 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... (vs.39) When the Pharisee who was the host saw what was happening and who the woman was, he said to himself, 'This proves that Jesus is no prophet! If God had really sent him he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She is a sinner." 

 

Now at this point Jesus tells the parable of the man who loaned money but canceled the debts, and how the person who owed the most feels the most blessed when his debt is canceled. Then Jesus goes on to say to the woman 'Your sins are forgiven' AND 'your faith has saved you; go in peace.' Needless to say, his statement about forgiving this woman shocked those guys at the table... but that's another discussion.  Who was this guy who can forgive sins, they wondered...


Okay, now look at the very next chapter:Luke 8. Verse 1-2 says "Jesus began a tour of the nearby cities and villages to announce the 'Good News' concerning the Kingdom of God. He took his 12 disciples with him along with some women he had healed and from whom he had cast out evil spirits. Among them were Mary Magdalene from whom he had cast out 7 demons, Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's business manager; Susanna, and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples."

Mary Magdalene is mentioned by name for the very first time here as someone 'from whom he had cast out seven demons.' (v.2)

 

It doesn't say she was a prostitute, it does not say she was the same gal who had been at Simon's house either!

The name 'Mary' was very common in those days, and notice as you read the other apostles books how they always indicate which Mary they're talking about: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of the two dudes, Mary and Martha (Lazarus' sisters), Mary the mother of Jesus... 

In Luke 23 the account begins of Jesus' trial and execution.  He is taken before a high council made up of leaders of the people, important priests & teachers of religious law.  Verse 32 relates the crucifixion, as does the 15th chapter of the book of Mark....

Mark 15:37 "Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last.... (v.40) Some women were there watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger & Joseph, and Salome. (v.41) They had been followers of Jesus and cared  for him while he was in Galilee. They and many other women had come with him to Jerusalem. (v.47) Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where Jesus' body was laid."
Mark 16:1 "The next evening when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene and Salome & Mary the mother of Joseph went out and purchased burial spices... (v.2) Very early Sunday morning just at sunrise, they came to the tomb... (v.4-7) The stone had already been rolled aside. So they entered the tomb... an angel said 'Do not be so surprised! You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene who was crucified. He isn't here - he has been raised from the dead!... Go and give this message to the disciples..."

*Verse 9 states once again "The first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons..."

See how it still doesn't identify her as a prostitute, or that she had even been at the Pharisees dinner.  If the writer was conscientious enough to say "Mary the mother of ...' so many times, if our Mary had been the one at that dinner or a known tramp, they would have said so.*

Oh, look at this passage in the book of Matthew & see how he writes about the women who were watching the crucifixion;  Matthew 27:56 "Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and Zebedee's wife the mother of James and John. (v. 61) Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting nearby watching" What they were watching was dear Joseph of Arimathea as he took Jesus' body to a tomb he owned; the ladies also watched the stone rolled in front of the doorway - Luke writes about this in chapter 23 vs.55 too which says: "As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where they placed his body. (v56) Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to embalm him. But by the time they were finished it was the Sabbath so they rested all that day as required by law."

*Can't you just imagine how sad these ladies were, and how heavy their hearts were as they headed to the tomb one more time... but when they go on Sunday morning to the tomb, much to their surprise they find the stone rolled away, Jesus NOT inside, and angels are waiting to give them some good news!*

I love the way this scene is presented in John 20 verses 11-13: "Mary was standing outside the tomb crying and as she wept she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels sitting at the head and foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 'Why are you crying?' the angels asked her. 'Because they have taken away my Lord,' she replied, 'and I don't know where they have put him.' (v14-18) "She glanced over her shoulder and saw someone standing beside here. It was Jesus but she didn't recognize him. 'Why are you crying?' Jesus asked her, 'Who are you looking for?' She thought he was the gardener.  'Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him and I will go get him.'  'Mary!' Jesus said. Mary turned towards him and exclaimed  Teacher!!' 'Don't cling to me,' Jesus said, 'because I haven't yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them that I am ascending to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.'  Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, 'I have seen the Lord!' Then she gave them his message..."

That is just the coolest thing... dear Mary can't even recognize Jesus probably because she's been crying so much... think of how sad and scared she must have been, then elated and thrilled to see her beloved teacher & healer & friend alive once again. Don't forget: she had watched him die - she was an eyewitness, which my retired lawyer daddy says is the most reliable witness.  To someone who had witnessed his brutal death, to see him standing there once again in the morning sun was the thrill beyond words.  None of his followers or disciples had really understood what Jesus had been talking about those times he'd predicted his death and resurrection; but now Mary knew the whole story and went on her joyous way to give them the news that would make all the difference to both them and us today!*

So that's the story on wonderful brave Mary Magdalene.  I know I'm not the first to realize what the truth about her really is but way too many people think she was a bad girl when in fact she was not!  I just had to speak up about it... if you want to look all of the scriptures up yourself that mention her and her relationship to Christ, here they are:

Here are the Scripture references that tell Mary Magdalene's story:

Matthew 27 & 28

Mark 15 & 16

Luke 23 & 24  (Luke 8:2 too)

 John 19 & 20