Summary: Mary Magdalene (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

Reading: Luke chapter 8 verses 1-3.

• Mary Magdalene;

• Has the unique distinction of being the first person to see Christ after His resurrection.

• Not only that, she received a special commission from Jesus;

• Making her the first human to spread the Good News of the resurrection!

• Jesus sent her back to the disciples with this news (John 20:11–18).

• Now remember at this point in Jewish culture and history;

• Women could not be witnesses in legal proceedings;

• So the choice of Mary by Jesus as a witness is interesting and worth noting!

(1). Her name.

Mary Magdalene's name identifies her as "of Mandela":

• Ill: Just as Jesus was called “The Nazarene” because of his association with Nazareth;

• Ill: So Mary was named Magdalene because of his association with Mandela;

• Mandela, means ‘tower’ or ‘castle’;

• It was a thriving town about three miles from Capernaum,

• This name distinguishes her from the other Marys referred to throughout the N.T.

• And this distinction is important.


• In the 6th Century, Pope Gregory the Great preached a sermon;

• In that sermon he made an assumption, which became an official hypothesis.

• That Mary of Bethany, Lazarus’ and Martha’s sister,

• And the sinful woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with ointment;

• And wiped his feet with her hair.

• Pope Gregory the Great obviously wasn’t a Bible student or was badly advised;

• Because he said, these three characters were actually the same person.

• This has led onto another wrong misunderstanding;

• That is that Mary Magdalene had been a prostitute or an adulterous.

• Before she met Jesus!

• For some Mary is probably most well-known for false details & unproven facts in her life

This misunderstanding regarding her character has been seen in a variety of ways:


• Many of the great artistic portraits of Mary picture her as a loose woman;

• Often her hair is down (culturally unacceptable) and she is scantily dressed.


• For a 150 years in Ireland different orders of the Roman Catholic Church;

• Ran ‘Magdalene Asylums’, these were institutions for so-called "fallen" women.

• Women who fell pregnant outside of marriage.

• Had their children removed and they were placed in these asylums.

• It has been estimated that 30,000 women were admitted during their 150-year history.

• In fact the last ‘Magdalene Asylum’ in Ireland closed on as recent as 1996!

Question: Why such a bad reputation?


• As well as Pope Gregory the Great theologically wrong sermon

• Ill: The town of Mandela had an unsavoury reputation for prostitution;

• May be the idea of Mary being linked to prostitution comes from this.

• Ill: Reputation can go before a person e.g. Jesus ‘Can anything good come from Nazareth?’

• Note: Mary Magdalene is mentioned in each of the 4 gospels & also the book of Acts,

• Not once does it even hint or mention that she was a prostitute or an adulterous.

In fact the very opposite - the Gospel’s shows us that Mary Magdalene:

• Was a woman of great devotion to Jesus;

• And she expressed that devotion in very practical ways.

• She was one of the women who, when Jesus was in Galilee,

• Followed Him & ministered to Him & supported him in his ministry.

• She accompanied Him & His disciples when He went to Jerusalem just prior to His death.

• She was present at the Crucifixion.

• She came to the tomb to anoint Jesus,

• And as I mentioned earlier she was the one who reported the fact that the tomb was empty.

• Many believe that Jesus’ personal appearance to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection;

• Was a special reward for the unfailing loyalty that she devoted to Him.

(2). Her family.

• We have no record of her parentage;

• We have no record of marital status.

• We might say she was single, unattached, the old fashioned word is ‘spinster’.

• Ill: Ivor Powell: ‘Unclaimed treasure’

• We have no record of any other family members,

• We also have no record of her age.

• Without any home or family ties she was free to follow Jesus;

• And this she did.

(3). Her bondage and liberation.

• To be able to support Jesus financially;

• Mary must have been a woman of high standing and comfortable circumstances.

• She might have had money but she did not have peace of mind;

• Luke tells us here that Jesus had cast seven demons out of her.

• We can only imagine the horror of a human mind and body;

• Being tormented by the presence of seven foul spirits.

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