Summary: Mary Magdalene (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: email@example.com)
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.