Summary: This sermon addresses the question regarding the role and position of women in the early church. This sermon also addresses Dan Brown’s claim that Jesus was married to Marry Magdalene.
Was Jesus Really Married?
Permit me to begin with another quote from Dan Brown’s book, The Da Vinci Code:
“The social decorum during that time virtually forbid a Jewish man to be unmarried. According to Jewish custom, celibacy was condemned, and the obligation for a Jewish father was to find a suitable wife for his son. If Jesus were not married, at least one of the Bible’s gospels would have mentioned it and offered some explanation for His unnatural state of bachelorhood.”
The accusation that Jesus was married is nothing new, how many of you remember the movie, The Last Temptation of Christ? I don’t know why it is that some people want to see Jesus shacked up with some woman that everyone seems to think was a former prostitute. Is it because some people feel bad for Jesus that He was single; it is funny that those who are most passionate about Jesus being married or promiscuous are from a culture that frowns on singleness and distorts sex (which by the way happens to be the West).
What I would like to do this morning is divide this message into three questions and then close with a few applicational thoughts. The first question we should ask is…
Who Was Mary Magdalene?
Actually we do not know a whole lot about this woman except for a few scattered references to her and some extra biblical material.
(3) Mary, the mother of James (Matt. 27:56); (4) Mary, the wife of Clopas (John 19:25);
(5) Mary, the mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12); (6) an unidentified Mary (Rom. 16:6); and
(7) Mary Magdalene [the name Magdalene distinguishes Mary being from Magdala] (Luke 8:2). So there are quite a few Mary’s in the New Testament; the status of family was commonly tied to the name of a person. Mary Magdalene is tied to a geographical place because she was single—she had no husband and she had no children—otherwise her name would not have been tied to her geographic location.
So now we know where Mary Magdalene is from, what do we know about her as a person? We know that she was once possessed by seven demons and met Jesus when He cast those demons out of her. There is no indication that Mary was the immoral woman who anointed Jesus’ feet (Luke 7), nor was she the woman who was caught in the act of an adulterous affair (John 8).
Mary Magdalene was simply a woman who was as good as dead until Jesus showed up. We know that she was very loyal to Jesus and His ministry and was a part of the entourage of women who supported and traveled with Jesus and His disciples.
We also know that when everyone else fled for their lives, Mary was one of the ones stood at the cross along with some of the other woman who ministered and served Jesus and the twelve disciples (Matt. 27:55-56; Mark 15:40-41; John 19:25). She was one of the women who came back to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus after He was buried, and finally we know that Mary Magdalene was an eye witness of the resurrection of Christ and the first person told to share the good news of Jesus’ resurrection with the rest of the disciples.
An early church father who lived around the third century even called Mary Magdalene an apostle to the apostles. The second question is…
Who was Mary in relation to Jesus?
There is a passage in the Gospel of John that some people use to suggest that Jesus and Mary had a “special” relationship; turn to John 20:11-18 (read).
So, some critics of the Bible look at this passage and conclude several things: (1) Jesus was a Rabbi and being that He was a Rabbi and Rabbi’s were usually married men—Jesus must have been married, and (2) for a woman to cling to Jesus like Mary did was highly unusual behavior unless they were married, therefore since Jesus was a Rabbi and the clinging that Mary did would have been highly unlikely if she were not married to him then Jesus must have been married to Mary Magdalene.
So what do we say to these things? Let me begin by offering six reasons Josh McDowell why Jesus was not married:
1. The Apostle Paul was single (1 Corinthians 7:8) and was an educated Pharisee who was regarded highly by the Jewish community (Philippians 3:4-6). In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul even encouraged others to stay single if they could do so without sinning.