By Karen Verderber
She was born in a notorious city, similar to Sodom and Gomorrah on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. She was a great model of love and repentance. Jesus recognized her as being on equal footing with the Apostles—thus the title of “Isapostolos”. She followed Jesus to the foot of the cross, brought spices to anoint His body, and was the first to witness and announce His resurrection. She died in Ephesus and her relics were delivered to Constantinople. God’s amazing love transformed this woman’s life and set her as an example of His love and forgiveness. Truly an extreme makeover! Yes, this is the holy myrrh-bearer Mary Magdalene who had the privilege of hearing the teachings of our Lord and walked alongside Him on His journey to the cross. Can you even imagine being so favored by God that you would be chosen to keep company with the One who voluntarily died to save the World?!
Mary Magdalene has gotten a lot of bad press as of late including the way she was portrayed in “The Da Vinci Code.” She’s been maligned, accused and misrepresented. And since she hailed from Magdala, it’s been assumed that she was a woman of ill-repute. In the ninth century, various legends arose about Mary. These legends taught that she and Jesus Christ were married and had children. However, nowhere does the New Testament corroborate such findings. A second part of the legend expounds the view that Jesus intended that the Church be built on Mary Magdalene and that power hungry, politically connected men stole it from her and built the Church on Peter instead. This is all mythology. We should look to the Word of God for the truth.
We are first introduced to Mary Magdalene in the New Testament, specifically in the eighth chapter of the Evangelist Luke (Luke 8:2). Luke describes her as one of the “women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—out of whom had come seven demons.” But nowhere do the writers of the New Testaments give any evidence that suggest that Mary was a prostitute. Although she is portrayed as a woman who was greatly tormented, when she met Jesus she was healed. In this man Jesus, she found a man who she could trust, who’s opinion of her mattered and who thought she was worthy of deliverance and ministry. Jesus shatters the taboos of his culture by allowing women to travel with Him, to service and encourage Him, while the rabbis at that time found women to be unworthy of this type of ministry. And a year later, we find that apart from John, only the women remained at the foot of the cross. Mary Magdalene remained faithful to Christ to the end. Last at the cross, first at the tomb (John 20:11-18).
Mary Magdalene truly brings glory to all women of faith. God enabled an ordinary woman to live an extraordinary life by turning Mary’s weaknesses into strengths, despair into hope and darkness into light. What made Mary Magdalene and many others, i.e. Rehab, Esther, Jochebed, Ruth and Naomi, etc. so remarkable? First of all, they loved the Lord passionately, trusted Him in life’s daily challenges and opened their hearts to His transforming grace. Mary Magdalene’s extreme makeover serves as an example for us of how we can enjoy God’s miraculous work in our lives today by following in the footsteps of faith, hope and love.
Jesus Christ found an opportunity through Mary Magdalene to bring help, healing, forgiveness, reconciliation and dignity. What woman would have passed us the privilege of walking with our Savior during His brief time on earth? No one that knows Him would.