Women of the Bible - Mary Magdalene

    A Woman Who Was an Adoring Disciple
    by Kathryn Capoccia

     Young Adults Sunday School Class
     All Scripture references are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW
     INTERNATIONAL VERSION (C) 1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by
     permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

 Copyright Kathy Capoccia 2000.  This file may be freely copied, printed out,
and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact,
and that it is not sold.
 I. Introduction

II. Character Profile: Mary Magdalene, a Woman Who Was an Adoring Disciple

     A. WHO WAS SHE? (see MAT 27:56,61: 28:1; MRK 15:40,47; 16:1-19; LUK
        8:2; 24:10; JOH 19:25; 20:1-18).

        *Some people identify Mary Magdalene with the "sinner" who anointed
        Jesus' feet at the banquet of Simon, the Pharisee (LUK 7:36-50) but
        there is no evidence for this.

        1. WHAT WAS HER NAME? Mary, "myrrh", a bitter and pungent herb, but
           valuable for medicinal purposes and in perfumes.

        2. WHERE DID SHE LIVE? Prior to her salvation she was from Magdala,
           a prosperous town on the coast of Galilee around three mi. from
           Capernaum; a dye works and textile factories added to its
           affluence. She was designated by her origin, "Mary of Magdala"
           (Magdala means "tower or castle"); possibly this designation
           means that she was one of the prominent people from the town.

        3. WHO WERE HER PEOPLE? Scripture is silent about her genealogy and
           marital status, but it appears that she was free to follow Jesus
           and financially able to care for both herself and Jesus' needs
           and ministry (MRK 15:41, 16:1; LUK 8:3).


        1. She was saved.

           a) Physically- she was freed from demon possession

              1) she was demon possessed

                 *We don't know how she came to be inhabited by demons,
                 those unclean spirits (MAT 10:1; MRK 1:27, 3:11, 5:13, 6:7;
                 LUK 4:36, 6:18, 7:21, 8:2, 11:26; ACT 5:16, 8:7, 19:12,13;
                 REV 16:13,14) but LUK 8:2 and MAR 16:9 say that she had
                 been possessed by seven demons.

                 a] demoniacs sometimes exhibit physical signs of possession

                    i] they seem to have illnesses

                        -- "epileptic" seizures (MAT 17:15-19).

                        -- being "dumb" (MAT 9:32,33).

                        -- being "blind" (MAT 12:22).

                   ii] they try to destroy themselves by:

                        -- cutting themselves with stones (MRK 5:5)

                        -- throwing themselves in fire or water (MAT 17:15;
                          MRK 9:22)

                  iii] they attack others:

                        -- in MAT 8:28, MRK 5:4 two demoniacs violently
                          attack passersby

                        -- in ACT 19:16 a demon possessed man jumped on and
                          beat the seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief

                 b] demoniacs may speak nonsensically

                    i] in JOH 8:49-53 the Jews could not comprehend what
                       Jesus was saying so they accused Him of having a

                   ii] in JOH 10:20,21 the crowd dismissed Jesus' teachings
                       as those from a "man possessed by a demon" and
                       someone "raving mad".

                 c] demoniacs may exhibit no outward signs

                    Several demoniacs in Scripture appear to have mixed
                    unnoticed among society until they came in contact with
                    Jesus (MRK 1:23; LUK 4:33).

                    *There is no way of telling what Mary acted like before
                    her salvation, whether she was wild or outwardly normal;
                    but she desperately needed divine intervention to free

              2) she was delivered

                 JOH 8:31,32  "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said,
                 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
                 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you

                 *We do not have a record of her deliverance, only the fact
                 that she was.

                 a] MAR 16:9 says that seven demons had been driven out of
                    her by Jesus.

                 b] LUK 8:2 says that she had had seven demons which had
                    come out of her.

                    i] Jesus commanded demons to come out of people (MRK
                       5:8; LUK 4:35, 9:29).

                   ii] Jesus could forbid demons to reenter a person
                       (MAR 9:25).

           b) Spiritually

              JOH 8:12  "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I
              am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk
              in darkness, but will have the light of life.'"

              *Again we do not have an account of her salvation experience,
              only evidence that she was saved.

              1) like the demoniacs in the Gerasenes she was loosed from the
                 dominion of Satan and was saved (MAR 5:12-20).

              2) at sometime she had called upon the name of the LORD-

                 ACT 4:12  "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is
                 no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be

        2. She was committed.

           MAR 8:34,35 "Then he called the crowd to him along with his
           disciples and said: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny
           himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to
           save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and
           for the gospel will save it."

           a) she had followed Him from Galilee, her home (Mat 27:55; MAR
              15:41; LUK 23:49).

              LUK 23:49  "But all those who knew him, including the women
              who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance,
              watching these things."

              MAT 27:55,56  "Many women were there, watching from a
              distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee.... Among them
              were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and
              the mother of Zebedee's sons."

           b) she cared for Jesus' needs (MAT 27:55; MAR 15:41).

              MAT 27:55  "Many women were there, watching from a distance.
              They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs.
              Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and
              Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons."

              MAR 15:41  "In Galilee these women had followed him and cared
              for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to
              Jerusalem were also there."

              *she gave whatever she could to further God's cause-

              THEIR NEEDS.

           c) she continued with Jesus

              LUK 9:62  "Jesus replied, 'No one who puts his hand to the
              plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of

              *Mary Magdalene apparently never looked back- for she had died
              to her old way of life, and her life was hidden with Christ in
              God.  COL 3:3.

              1) she apparently followed from the time she met Him until His

              2) she did not fall away from difficult teachings (JOH

        3. She was faithful

           a) she was steadfast

              1) she was there at the cross (MAT 27:55; MRK 15:40; LUK
                 23:49; JOH 19:25).

                 *she was probably also part of the crowd that followed
                 Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem to Golgotha, though
                 Scripture does not specifically mention her (LUK 23:27)

                 LUK 23:27  "A large number of people followed him,
                 including women who mourned and wailed for him."

                 a] crucifixion

                    i] definition: n. the act of nailing or fastening a
                       person to a cross, for the purpose of putting him to
                       death: Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary,
                       Collins/ World, 1975, pg 438.

                   ii] origin: according to "The Zondervan Pictorial
                       Encyclopedia of the Bible", pg. 1041, the Medes and
                       the Persians originated this brutal form of torture.

                  iii] Roman practice: this form of execution was reserved
                       for slaves and non-Romans (or degraded persons).

                        -- the victim may have been scourged prior to
                          crucifixion, which entailed being bound to a
                          pillar and being beaten 13 strokes on the chest
                          and 13 strokes on each shoulder with a plaited
                          whip weighted with metal pieces or bone fragments.
                          Roman citizens could not lawfully be scourged.

                        -- the victim usually carried a crossbeam to a
                          perpendicular stake (usually little more than the
                          height of a man) at the execution site outside a
                          city's walls.

                        -- the victim was stripped and nailed (through the
                          hands and heels) or lashed to the crossbeam, which
                          was fitted onto the post.

                        -- the victim sometimes was permitted to sit astride
                          a peg, which helped support his weight, or to have
                          a foot rest with which to raise up (to bring blood
                          pressure back to the upper body).

                        -- death could take as long as 2-3 days with the
                          rests; without them or if the victims legs were
                          broken death would be rapid by orthostatic
                          collapse (through insufficient blood circulating
                          to the brain and heart).

                        -- the victim's crime was published at the time of
                          his death either by a crier who proceeded him or
                          by a written tablet (called a titulus).

                          *this information came from "The Zondervan
                          Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible", vol.1, pgs.
                          1040,1041, vol.5, pg. 298, and "Everyday life in
                          Bible Times", National Geographic Society, pg. 362

                   iv] Jesus' crucifixion

                        -- trials- the first took place at Anna's home after
                          His arrest (the former high priest) where Jesus
                          was questioned and struck in the face (JOH

                                 - next it took place at Caiaphas' home in
                          the middle of the night where Jesus was spit upon,
                          blindfolded, punched and slapped, and mocked and
                          beaten by the guards (MAT 26:57-75; MRK 14:53-65;
                          LUK 22:54-71; JOH 18:24-27).

                                 - next it took place before the Sanhedrin
                          at daybreak and they spit in His face and beat Him
                          with their fists, and slapped Him when He was
                          blindfolded (MAT 26:57-68; MRK 15:1; LUK 22:66).

                                 - next it came to Pilate early in the
                          morning who questioned Him and found out that He
                          was a Galilean (MAT 27:2; MRK 15:1; LUK 23:1; JOH

                                 - next it came to Herod, who questioned
                          Him, ridiculed and mocked Him and dressed Him in a
                          scarlet robe  (LUK 23:6-12).

                                 - lastly it came back to Pilate who flogged
                          Him and turned Him over to be crucified  (LUK

                        -- scourging- this took place at Pontius Pilate's
                          palace (MAT 27:26; MRK 15:15; JOH 18:28).

                        -- crucifixion-

                          I. the soldiers at the Praetorium mocked Jesus
                             before His crucifixion with mock worship, a
                             crown of thorns, a purple robe, a staff (which
                             they used to beat His head with): they spat
                             upon Him; then they led Him out to crucify Him
                             (MAT 27:27; JOH 19:1-16.

                         II. Jesus was led out carrying His own cross (JOH

                        III. Simon of Cyrene was impressed to carry the
                             cross for Jesus as the company left the palace
                             (MAT 27:32; MRK 15:21; LUK 23:26).

                         IV. at Golgotha Jesus was crucified with two
                             criminals (as an insurrectionist MAT 27:33-50;
                             MRK 15:22-37; LUK 23:32-46; JOH 18:17-30).

                             *Jesus' feelings were expressed by the

                             PSA 22:14-18  "I am poured out like water, and
                             all my bones are out of joint. My heart has
                             turned to wax; it has melted away within me.
                             My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my
                             tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay
                             me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded
                             me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they
                             have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count
                             all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.
                             They divide my garments among them and cast
                             lots for my clothing."

                             *this was fulfilled in:

                             MAT 27:35  "When they had crucified him, they
                             divided up his clothes by casting lots."

                             MAR 15:24  "And they crucified him. Dividing up
                             his clothes, they cast lots to see what each
                             would get."

                             LUK 23:34  "Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them,
                             for they do not know what they are doing.' And
                             they divided up his clothes by casting lots."

                             JOH 19:23,24  "When the soldiers crucified
                             Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them
                             into four shares, one for each of them, with
                             the undergarment remaining. This garment was
                             seamless, woven in one piece from top to
                             bottom. 'Let's not tear it,' they said to one
                             another. 'Let's decide by lot who will get it.'
                             This happened that the scripture might be
                             fulfilled which said, 'They divided my garments
                             among them and cast lots for my clothing.' So
                             this is what the soldiers did."
                          V. Jesus died accompanied by signs (MAT 27:45-54;
                             MRK 15:33-38; LUK 23:44-47; JOH 19:30).

                         VI. Mary was a witness of His death (MAT 27:55,56;
                             MRK15:40; LUK 23:48,49; JOH 19:25).

              2) she was there at the entombment (MAT 27:61;MRK 15:47; LUK

                 a] Jewish tombs:

                    Jews followed the custom of burial in natural and
                    artificial caves. Generally only the rich used tombs,
                    with the poor using pits, cisterns, caves, and earthen
                    graves outside their cities.

                    Tombs were located in gardens attached to homes, within
                    city walls, on elevated sites, on hillsides, and in
                    caves (natural and hand hewn).

                    *this information is from "The Zondervan Pictorial
                    Encyclopedia of the Bible", vol. 5, pg.772.

                    Prophets and kings were buried within the city limits;
                    everyone else was buried outside the city limits.
                    Wealthy tombs were often cut into rock, some containing
                    several chambers. The entrance was closed by rolling a
                    round rolling-stone down an inclined plane in front of
                    the mouth of the sepulcher.

                    *this information is from "Manners and Customs of Bible
                    Lands", by Fred H. Wright, Moody Press, co. 1953, pgs.

                 b] Joseph's tomb

                    i] it was a new tomb near Golgotha, in a garden (JOH

                   ii] it was cut in the rock and one in which no one had
                       been laid (LUK 23:53).

                  iii] it was his own tomb and after Jesus was laid in it a
                       big stone was rolled across the entrance (MAT
                       27:59,60; MRK 15:46).

                 c] Jewish burial customs:

                    The Jews buried their dead as soon as possible, usually
                    on the day of death. Embalming spices (if they could be
                    afforded) were added to linen strips which were wound
                    around the hands and feet of the corpse, a napkin
                    usually covered the face. *this information is found in
                    "Manners and Customs of Bible Lands", by Fred H. Wight,
                    Moody Press, co. 1953, pg.144.

                    JOH 11:44  The dead man came out, his hands and feet
                    wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his
                    face. Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes
                    and let him go."

                    JOH 19:40  Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped
                    it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in
                    accordance with Jewish burial customs.

                    *Jesus remained in the grave a part of three days as the
                    Scriptures foretold:

                    MAT 12:40  "For as Jonah was three days and three nights
                    in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be
                    three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

              3) she was there at the resurrection (MAT 28:1-10; MAR
                 16:1-10; LUK 24:1-10; JOH 20:1-18).

              4) she was probably there in the upper room to see Jesus
                 appear to the disciples (LUK 24:36-49; JOH 20:19-25).

           b) she adored Jesus

              1) she wanted to anoint Him to finish His burial (MAR 16:1)

                 *even though Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had wrapped
                 the body of Jesus in 75-100 lbs. of dry spices (myrrh and
                 aloes) and wrapped Him in strips of linen (JOH 19:39,40), a
                 final anointing of liquid spices was sometimes applied on
                 the body as a special honor to a departed loved one, and
                 this anointing was what Mary and the others desired to do.

                 a] she purchased spices ("aroma") after the Sabbath ended
                    (MAR 16:1)- in the short time between sunset and full

                    *the Sabbath began and ended at sunset, so in the time
                    of dusk Mary and Mary, the mother of James and Salome,
                    purchased spices (which were costly) from the merchants
                    in Jerusalem- since darkness would preclude completing
                    their anointing task they had to wait for the dawn to go
                    to the tomb.

                 b] she went to the tomb as early as possible the next day,
                    "the first day after the Sabbath", so that:

                    - she could still find the body in a manageable
                    condition to anoint.

                    -she could fulfill the desire of her heart to lavish the
                    one she loved with the best she had to give as quickly
                    as possible.

              2) she wanted to mourn Him?

                 *when Mary and Martha were mourning their brother Lazarus
                 and Mary quickly left the house to meet Jesus, some assumed
                 that she was going to the tomb to mourn there,
                 so it may be assumed that this was a custom of the time
                 (JOH 11:31). Certainly Mary had not been able to freely
                 express her feelings of loss at the burial of Jesus since
                 it had been a hasty one.

              3) she had a deep personal commitment to Him which made her
                 sense of loss the greater (JOH 20:10-14).

                 JOH 20:13  "They asked her, 'Woman, why are you crying?'
                 'They have taken my Lord away,' she said, 'and I don't know
                 where they have put him.'"

                 a] she calls Him "my"-

                    He belonged to her and He was a part of her, and she was

                 b] she calls Him "Lord", which means "authority, master,

                    She belonged to Him, and she was yielded to His rule
                    over her.

           c) she was a witness

              1) to an empty grave (JOH 20:1,2)

                 JOH 20:1,2  "Early on the first day of the week, while it
                 was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw
                 that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she
                 came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one
                 Jesus loved, and said, 'They have taken the Lord out of the
                 tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!'"

              2) to His bodily resurrection

                 a] she was an eyewitness to the resurrection

                    i] angelic announcements

                       LUK 24:5,6  "In their fright the women bowed down
                       with their faces to the ground, but the men said to
                       them, 'Why do you look for the living among the dead?
                       He is not here; he has risen!'"

                       MAT 28:5,6  "The angel said to the women, 'Do not be
                       afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus,
                       who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just
                       as he said. Come and see the place where he lay."

                        -- of the resurrection

                          -LUK 24:5,6  "In their fright the women bowed down
                          with their faces to the ground, but the men said
                          to them, 'Why do you look for the living among the
                          dead? He is not here; he has risen!'"

                          -MAT 28:5,6  "The angel said to the women, 'Do not
                          be afraid, for I know that you are looking for
                          Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has
                          risen, just as he said. Come and see the place
                          where he lay.'"

                          -MAR 16:6  "'Don't be alarmed,' he said. 'You are
                          looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified.
                          He has risen! He is not here. See the place where
                          they laid him.'"

                        -- of His next appearance in Galilee (MAT 28:6; MAR

                        -- of the fulfillment of Scripture (LUK 24:6,7).

                          LUK 24:6,7  "'Remember how he told you, while he
                          was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man
                          must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be
                          crucified and on the third day be raised again.'"

                   ii] bodily appearances

                        -- Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other
                          Mary (MAT 28:9)

                          MAT 28:9,10  "Suddenly Jesus met them.
                          'Greetings,' he said. They came to him, clasped
                          his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to
                          them, 'Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers
                          to go to Galilee; there they will see me.'"

                        -- Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene (JOH 20:14-18)

                        -- Jesus appeared to the disciples in the upper room
                          (LUK 24:36-49; JOH 20:19-29).

                        -- Jesus appeared in Galilee (MAT 28:16).

                        -- Jesus appeared at the Mt. of Olives (ACT 1:1-12).

                 b] sequence of events of the resurrection

                    *this is subject to interpretation- it is difficult to
                    piece together the full picture of what occurred that
                    morning because, while each Gospel account has details
                    of the events, each is told from its particular
                    perspective and the only the events pertinent to that
                    perspective were included in each.

                    i] Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, and Joanna went
                       just at dawn to the tomb with spices (MAT 28:1; MAR
                       16:1;  LUK 24:10).

                   ii] an earthquake occurred, an angel rolled away the
                       stone covering the mouth of the tomb and sat upon it,
                       and the guards fainted from fear (MAT 28:2-4).

                  iii] the two women entered the tomb and saw two angels,
                       one of whom spoke words of reassurance and announced
                       that Jesus had risen (MAT 28:5-8; MAR 16:4-7; LUK

                   iv] Mary Magdalene left the tomb and ran to tell Peter
                       and John that Jesus' body was gone (JOH 20:2).

                    v] the other women remained and heard the announcements
                       and left (MAR 16:8).

                   vi] Peter, John and Mary returned to the tomb where the
                       disciples saw nothing but graveclothes, and they
                       returned home (JOH 20:2-10)

                  vii] Mary stood outside the tomb weeping; she then looked
                       inside, saw two angels, turned around and saw Jesus
                       (whom she mistook for a gardener).

                 viii] Jesus revealed Himself to her (JOH 20:15,16).

                   ix] Jesus revealed Himself to women (who may have
                       returned after Peter and John came), who then
                       returned to the disciples with joy (MAT 28:8,9).

                    x] Mary reported everything to the disciples (JOH 20:18;
                       MAR 16:10,11).

                   xi] Peter returned to the tomb again and looked in (MAR
                       16:11; LUK 24:11,12).

                 c] the importance of the resurrection

                    i] the Gospel message (1CO 1:23,24)

                       1CO 1:23,24  "but we preach Christ crucified: a
                       stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
                       but to those whom God has called, both Jews and
                       Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of

                   ii] the crux of Christianity (1CO 15:12-17).

                       1CO 15:12-17  "But if it is preached that Christ has
                       been raised from the dead, how can some of you say
                       that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there
                       is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ
                       has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised,
                       our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More
                       than that, we are then found to be false witnesses
                       about God, for we have testified about God that he
                       raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him
                       if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead
                       are not raised, then Christ has not been raised
                       either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith
                       is futile; you are still in your sins."

                       *If there was no resurrection then Jesus would still
                       be dead, as many other famous religious leaders are,
                       and He would have been proven to have been just
                       another ordinary man; however, since the grave was
                       empty and Christ was seen to be alive, it's proof
                       that He is exactly what He claimed to be- God in
                       flesh and the propitiation of the world. The fact
                       that He rose from death also shows the Father's
                       acceptance of Jesus' death on our behalf (that means
                       that if anyone is in Christ he is completely cleansed
                       of sin).

              3) she witnessed to others

                 a] to the disciples (JOH 20:18)

                    JOH 20:18  Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the
                    news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he
                    had said these things to her.

                 b] to the 11 and the disciples (LUK 24:9,10).

                    LUK 24:9,10  "When they came back from the tomb, they
                    told all these things to the Eleven and to all the
                    others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother
                    of James, and the others with them who told this to the


        1. God commands us to "love the Lord your God with all your heart
           and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your
           strength" (MAR 12:30); Mary Magdalene is a good example of
           someone who did exactly that.

        2. God rewards devotion: God made sure that the name of Mary
           Magdalene was recorded in each Gospel and what she did was
           preserved forever as a memorial to her devotion; and Jesus
           appeared to her personally after His resurrection as a tribute
           to her great love for Him.

        3. She was a faithful witness of what God had done in her life- we
           need to follow her example and faithfully tell what God has done
           for us.

        4. She supported God's work with her money and her own work- we
           should do the same.

 III. What Fruits Of The Spirit Can We See In Her?
  IV. Memory Verse: 2CO 8:5  And they did not do as we expected, but they
     gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's

Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Kathy Capoccia's Sunday School Lessons for Young Adults" by:

Tony Capoccia
Bible Bulletin Board
Box 119
Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022
Websites: www.biblebb.com and www.gospelgems.com
Email: tony@biblebb.com
Online since 1986