Dr. Kluane Spake
Mary Magdalene is referred to in early Christian writings as the “apostle to all apostles” AND “the favorite apostle.”
Most of us think that MARY MAGDALENE had a notorious reputation. Many speculate that she was a prostitute – but the New Testament never said she was.
And now, in recent years, we have a lot of stories about Mary being Jesus’ girlfriend and even wife – which of course we also have no record.
Photo is “Christ’s Appearance to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection.” a painting by Alexander Ivanov from 1835.
But, Mary Magdalene was a very important disciple! All four Gospels mention that she was a witness to both the Crucifixion and Resurrection. We know that she remained at the Cross as Jesus died and that she discovered the empty tomb and encountered Jesus right after the Resurrection. She was the first person to testify the Good News!
There are several Mary’s in the Gospels. Mary the mother of Jesus. But there is Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus. There is Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and Mary the wife of Clopas. Many have confused these women — and particularly important to this study is the woman who wiped Jesus’ feet with ointment – this was NOT Mary Magdalene.
Tradition tells us that Mary of Magdala was young and pretty. She was from a town called Mandala, which is within walking distance of Capernaum, where Jesus started his ministry. Mary Magdalene was there with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry until the very end.
Mary followed Jesus around with the apostles into the towns and villages of Judea and Galilee. She was not alone – other women also were there – Joanna (the wife of Choza who was the steward of Herod), and Susanna.
It seems that these women were wealthy and also “served Him from their own possessions” (Luke 8:1-3). These women undoubtedly were part of the evangelic team.
Luke tells us that these loyal weeping women followed after Jesus as He went on the Procession to Golgotha. And He consoled them.
Mary Magdalene was there at the moment of the Lord’s Crucifixion. Even though the Apostles ran away, she remained there at the Cross together with His mother, Salome, Mary Cleopas, other women, and the Apostle John. Mary Magdalene is mentioned first – which invariably indicates that she stood out.
Mary Magdalene is the only woman besides Jesus’ mother Mary who is mentioned by name in all four Gospels, and her name, in all but one instance (Jn. 19:25), is the first listed when others are present at the event.
She is mentioned first undoubtedly probably because of her importance in the resurrection.
Matthew says she was there when Jesus was buried. She saw Joseph and Nicodemus come to the tomb with His body. She watched as they moved the stone to cover the entrance to the cave.
On the Sabbath (which happened to be on the Feast of Passover), she took spices to His grave to anoint His body, as was the custom.
Matthew says they went there at dawn. Mark said it was extremely early before the rising of the sun. John said Mary came early — while it was still dark.
Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, arrived with spices and ointments for His body. Matthew 28 tells how they discovered that an angel had rolled back the tombstone and sat on top of it! This angel was so bright and radiant that the guards around the tomb fell down like dead. But the angel assured the women, “He is risen from the dead!”
Those angels weren’t perched up there to let Jesus out of the tomb, but to open the door and let the women see that He was already gone. The stone rolled away for their benefit.
Now, once again, the angels come to move away the stones that hinder us from comprehending our resurrection life. Here and now, the stones of misunderstanding roll away to reveal God’s gift for this lifetime, and the one to come.
Mary Magdalene (Mk. 16:9) returned to the tomb and Jesus appeared specifically to her. When she did finally recognize Him, Jesus said (Jn. 20:16-18), “Mary, don’t touch me, do not cling to me.”
Essentially, this meant “Don’t hang on me and try to know Me in the natural realm, like before. Don’t pull at me, clinging to the veil of flesh that has been rent. Don’t keep Me for purposes of your own memories. Now I have a new relationship with you. Know Me in the Spirit and in resurrection life.”
Jesus no longer comes to be our carnal friend – to be clung onto with the old ways, in old worn out songs, or the old expectations. He desires to display His Resurrection power to us, and to rent the veil of our flesh. Don’t stop at the cross, don’t cry at an empty tomb, laying again the same foundations. Come on up to the resurrection of the dead (Heb.6).
To us, Mary Magdalene probably seems like one of the most unlikely candidates to hear directly from God. We have been told that perhaps she had a dark past, only now to discover that wasn’t true.
Jesus told her, “I must go to My Father and your Father and My God and your God.” Look at that! HER FATHER! JESUS GAVE THE AUTHORITY TO BECOME THE SONS OF GOD TO EVERYONE.
Furthermore, Jesus Himself commissioned Mary to PREACH THE GOSPEL, “Go and tell my brethren…”
Mary Magdalene received the first apostolic commission from the risen Savior.
Mary told the disciples that SHE had SEEN the Lord and that HE had spoken these things TO HER.
Jesus also met other women on their way from the tomb. He said, “Rejoice!” Then, to all these women, He said, “go and tell the brethren” that they would see Him in Galilee. Imagine these ladies’ excitement as they preached the Resurrection for the first time!
>>They had the greatest message of all time.
>>And the women taught the men.
Notice how Jesus came to where the women were, but the apostles had to walk sixty miles away to Galilee to see Him.
Don’t forget the disciple’s reaction to the women’s news, “And their (the women’s) words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not” (Lk. 24:11).
>> Later, when Jesus appeared to the men, He rebuked them for not believing these women who were assigned the specific task of conveying the news to them (men disciples), especially Peter (Luke 24:6).
These women weren’t limited, restricted, or silenced. They didn’t bring a male person along to spiritually cover them! Why, they even remembered His words “and recited it all to the eleven men. “