Dear workers for Christ,
July 22 is set aside on the Christian calendar as
St. Mary Magdalene day. We know little about her or her place of origin. The Bible mentions that she was from Magdala, a town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee and just south of Bethsaida.
The first mention made of Mary Magdalene in the Bible is in Luke 8:2. Here St. Luke mentions that Mary had been healed from seven demons which possessed her and that she was a follower of Jesus. It is logical to assume that Jesus Himself drove the demons from her, although the Bible does not record that event specifically. Her life while under the influence of those demons certainly was not a good one. (Note: It has long been tradition that Mary was a former prostitute, but the Bible itself gives no indication of that being the case and most Bible scholars today discount the story.)
Anyway, after the demons were cast from her, Mary became a devout follower of Jesus. In fact, according to Luke 8:3, Mary was one of several women who basically bank-rolled Jesus’ ministry. These women supported and financed Jesus and the Twelve out of their own possessions over a long period of time. What a marvelous example of the proper use of possessions, including money, these faithful women provide.
Of course, it was Mary Magdalen’s involvement in Jesus’ death and resurrection that provide the most lasting tribute to her. According to Matthew 27, Mary Magdalene was among the women who witnessed the crucifixion of our Lord (Mt. 27:55-56). She was also a witness to where Jesus was buried (Mt. 27:61). And, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene was among the women who went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body (Mt. 28:1).
But Jesus reserved a special honor for Mary on that glorious day. According to John 20:11-18, Mary was the first one to see the risen Christ. You know the story of how she was at the tomb crying, and how she initially thought Jesus to be the gardener. She was the first to see, hear, touch, and speak to Jesus after His resurrection.
After the events of Easter morning, the Bible does not speak of Mary Magdalene again. One tradition has her fleeing to France with Mary, Jesus’ mother, Lazarus, and others. Another tradition has her leaving Jerusalem with just Mary, Jesus’ mother, to live out their days in Ephesus (modern-day Turkey). But both of these are unsupported by Scripture.
Why Mary played such a key role in the days of the apostles is perhaps best explained by Arthur Just in his commentary on the book of Luke: “The women’s service is of great import, particularly in the context of the attitude prevailing in Judaism of Jesus’ day regarding the inclusion—or exclusion—of women in religious matters. Non- conformist that He was, Jesus refused to permit tradition to make second-class citizens of women, whom He considered His sisters. In the kingdom He brings, the Spirit is poured out on male and female servants alike and whoever does the will of God, which is to believe in Him, is His brother and sisters and mother (Mark 3:35).” (Luke, CPH, page 335). Thank the Lord for the faithful service of women back then and still to this day.
In His service and yours,