~ by Randy Bushey
When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons (Mark 16:9).
Mary Magdalene, named 15 times in the Gospels, is another of those enigmatic figures about whose background we know very little.
Rather than being named as the wife or mother of a known male, (Mary, the wife of Clopas – John 19:25; Mary the mother of James and Joses – Matthew 27:56) she is always named by her town: Mary of Magdala.
In the record of the Gospels, Jesus was there once. After He fed the 4000, Matthew concludes: And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala (Matthew 15:39) located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, about 10 km south-west of Capernaum which served as Jesus home-base during His public ministry.
Magdala (sometimes referred to as Migdal or Magadan) was a larger Galilean city of 40,000 and has been heavily excavated by archaeologists.
The 1st century historian Josephus refers to Magdala and its importance in the fishing industry: harvesting, processing and marketing.
The city was primarily Gentile, and considered by pious Jews as a place to be avoided: depraved and corrupt.
But for most Bible students, the town is relevant chiefly for its most well-known citizen, the Mary who has forever borne the city’s name.
What was her background? Her family? Was she distant from her father?
Are the hints at her previously immoral lifestyle an accurate portrayal of her character?
What does it mean to have been delivered of seven demons? In what context had she immersed herself to be so overwhelmingly stricken?
And what of the momentous occasion where Jesus delivered her of this demonic oppression?
We are left to speculate.
However, several points are indisputable, making Mary Magdalene an enduring symbol of redemption – a trophy of the love and grace of Christ.
She was among the women near the cross who watched in overwhelming grief, the graphic and agonizing form of the Lord Jesus forever burned into their minds. Many women were there (Matthew 27:55), but of the male disciples, only John appears.
In the sovereign plan of Almighty God, Mary Magdalene was one of 4 women at the tomb on Resurrection Sunday morning – arriving before dark – and again long before her male counterparts responded.
She was one of only 2 to first hear of the Resurrection from the heavenly messenger.
But, why was Mary Magdalene the first one – alone – to witness the Risen Christ.
Why of all of those loyal early Christ-followers, did God choose Mary Magdalene – the former demoniac – to be the first to witness this most significant event, what Bible teacher John MacArthur refers to as “the dawning not only of a new day but of a new era in redemptive history” – the resurrection of the Messiah.
Takeaway: Maybe in some ways, Mary Magdalene is like us?
Her faith was weak.
She lacked trust in Christ’s teaching that He would rise again; that’s why she arrived at the tomb with spices to further anoint the body of the Saviour.
However, Mary of Magdala boldly exhibits for every generation of Christ-followers the characteristics that every true believer seeks to possess: undying love and unending devotion.
~ graphic of Mary Magdalene character from The Chosen video series.