Here are the powerful lessons that we can learn from the life of Mary Magdalene. Discover how Jesus transformed her life, from a demon-possessed woman to one of the most zealous followers of God!
There are a lot of people whose name is Mary in the Bible. In fact, the name Mary was mentioned over 50 times in the Bible. On the other hand, the Hebrew form of Mary, which is Miriam, is mentioned in the Old Testament about 15 times.
Thus, it is not difficult to see that a distinction should be made to identify the subject of our discussion today. In this blog, I would like us to focus our mind on an interesting Bible character popularly known as Mary Magdalene. Let us take a look at her life and learn the vital lessons we must apply in our daily lives.
Who is Mary Magdalene?
Mary Magdalene, or properly known as Mary of Magdala or Migadan, is among the many women who served Yahshua/Jesus Christ during His Ministry. She is from Magdala (thus the name), which is a town on the western shore of the Lake of Tiberias.
In the Bible, Magdala is only mentioned once. Matthew 15:39 states:
“And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.”
However, in other Bible translations, Magdala here is translated as Migadan. Magdala means “tower.” Today, people can still see the remains of this town after an excavation was made in the early 1970s.
Jesus Christ casts seven demons from Mary Magdalene. Because of her great gratitude, she became a follower of Jesus Christ.
Mary Magdalene has been mentioned in the New Testament multiple times. For this reason, it is only fitting for us to search the scripture and learn the lessons from the life of Mary Magdalene.
Lesson no. 1: never dabble in the evil spirit world
In our modern time and age, many so-called experts, psychologists, and doctors would dismiss the notion that people can get possessed by demons. They thought that it is just a primitive way to explain mental illness.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are a lot of people today who flirt with the spirit world to gain “enlightenment” and special powers.
We read in the Bible that Mary Magdalene has been possessed by at least seven demons. Some commentaries would suppose that it could have been more since the term “seven” can be an expression to describe many.
“Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils” (Mark 16:9, compare with Luke 3:2).
Whatever the case is, the Bible reveals that demons are very real. They are not a figment of creative imagination and we must stand guard against these minions of Satan.
Thankfully, the Bible tells us that demons are powerless as long as we are close to God.
James 4:7 tells us:
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. RESIST THE DEVIL, and he will flee from you.”
However, if ever you choose to play with the evil spirit world, you are stepping into a dangerous territory. It can put you not just in a spiritual danger, but also physical vulnerability.
Demons don’t have the power to influence us unless we let them by provocation. We may invite them to take over our mind and body by getting involved in the occult, witchcraft, astrology, and sorcery, to name a few. Anything that gives the demons a foothold in our lives will surely bring us closer to their influence and far from God.
Mary Magdalene was possessed by demons and she would not have been healed if she didn’t meet our Savior. In the same manner, we can only be delivered from demons when we grow closer in our relationship with God and Christ.
To combat our enemy, the demons and Satan, it is only fitting for us to learn more about them. The more we know, the more informed we are to deal with their evil devices. In lieu of this, you may want to check my blog entitled, Top 20 Surprising Biblical Facts about Satan.
Lesson no. 2: We must follow Christ even unto death
Following Jesus when things are going according to your way is easy, but to follow Christ even unto death is way more difficult.
Majority of self-proclaimed Christians wouldn’t want to go down this road. Most would only like the feel-good and fuzzy feeling they get from being religious.
When Jesus was crucified, all of His disciples except for one, deserted Him. When Christ needed them the most, that’s the same time when they left and saved their own skin.
However, this is not the case with Mary Magdalene and other women. We read:
There were many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee and helped him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the wife of Zebedee (Matthew 27:55-56).
“Standing close to Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene” (John 19:25).
It takes courage to follow Christ.
These women exactly knew they are risking their lives in staying close to Jesus. When the men lost their courage, these women showed their pious affection to Christ even if it would mean putting their lives in danger.
Of course, following Christ isn’t always a matter of life and death. But as Christians, we must be willing to show our willingness to follow Christ even in the small things. Because if we can’t handle those, how can God trust us with the big things?
Lesson no. 3: The more we desire Christ, the more we will see Him
Mary Magdalene is among the brave followers of Christ who stuck with Him through thick and thin. There’s no doubt; Mary Magdalene displayed a great desire to be always with Christ, both in life and death.
When we have the desire to be with Christ, it will lead us to Him. The stronger our desire, the more we get closer to Him. Just like Mary Magdalene, because of her strong and unstoppable desire to be with Christ, she was given the great privilege to FIRST see the risen Christ.
After Jesus rose from death early on Sunday, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had driven out seven demons (Mark 16:9).
Mary Magdalene even clung to Jesus. Her great desire to be with her Savior isn’t just a mental state of mind. Her actions showed what it really means to desire Christ’s presence.
So, how much do you desire to be with God? Is that desire strong enough for you to forsake sin? Is that desire going to bring you closer to God? Most importantly, what are the things that you are willing to give in order to fulfill the desire of being with Christ?
These are tough questions that we must honestly answer. If we want to be with Christ, we must be like Mary Magdalene who has devoted the rest of her life to serving God and His people.
Lesson no. 4: We are called to do a work
After the death of Christ, His followers thought that it’s all over – that all hopes are gone and there’s nothing to look forward to. In fact, most followers of Christ went back to their old lives.
However, Christ has a bigger plan for everyone including us, Christians today. When Christ first appeared to Mary Magdalene, He gave her an immediate mission to fulfill.
Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned toward him and said in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (This means “Teacher.”). “Do not hold on to me,” Jesus told her, “because I have not yet gone back up to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them that I am returning to him who is my Father and their Father, my God and their God.”
So Mary Magdalene went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and related to them what he had told her (John 20:16-18).
Christ gave Mary a mission to proclaim the incredible news of His resurrection to others. The resurrection of Christ is the infallible proof of His divine nature and Messiahship.
In the same manner, we can have the full assurance that Christ did really resurrect and we can confidently tell others about this very fact. If you need more help in proving Christ’s resurrection, here’s a blog that easily proves it.
Lesson no. 5: God does not play favoritism
In a society where women are held in low regard, it is worth noting that Christ didn’t show himself first to men, kings, rulers, and even the great people by the world’s standard.
Christ showed Himself first to Mary Magdalene, a woman.
This proves that God and Jesus do not show favoritism. They do not hold men to be greater than women nor women greater than men.
They are equal in God’s eyes.
They both play unique God-given roles and they are indispensable in fulfilling God’s purpose.
By showing Himself to Mary Magdalene first, it shows that your gender isn’t an issue as long as you wholeheartedly seek God. It doesn’t whether you’re rich or poor, young or old, God looks at your heart.
Lesson no. 6: We must know the voice of God and Jesus
Jesus warned that there will be religious deception and many will be taken away by it. If we are to fight deception, we must be familiar with the voice of our God or Jesus Christ.
Mary Magdalene spent a lot of time with Jesus Christ. Thus, she knew Him very well. The morning they discovered the empty tomb, Mary wept because she thought someone stole the body of Christ.
“Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).” (John 20:14-16).
At first, Mary didn’t recognize Christ. But when Christ finally revealed Himself to Mary, she immediately knew that it was her Master, Yahshua/Jesus.
We need to realize that it is God who first reach out to us. Unless He calls us, we will always be lost. And when He finally calls us into His fold, we must be familiar with His voice. As John 10:27-28 mentioned:
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”
Lesson no. 7: Keep the Sabbath Day
It is worth noting that Mary Magdalene, just like Christ and His followers, kept the Sabbath. We read:
“And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment” (Luke 23:55-56).
No matter how busy they were, they still kept the Sabbath day. Though they had the perfect excuse to go to the sepulcher and anoint Christ’s dead body, they still respected the Sabbath and rested on that day.
Did they keep the Sabbath because they are Jews? Of course not! They kept the Sabbath because it is the COMMANDMENT of God. Later, we see not just Jews but also Gentiles keeping the Sabbath (Acts 13:42-44)!
The Sabbath isn’t a day to keep us from doing the things we want to do, but it is a blessing that allows us to rest without the guilty feeling that we are being lazy or unproductive. In fact, the opposite is true. The Sabbath helps us focus on God and spend time with our loved ones.
If you’re interested in knowing more about the benefits of keeping the Sabbath, please read this article.
Lesson no. 8: Never stop serving God
I believe that Mary Magdalene is among the best examples of how we should serve our God.
After Christ casting the demons out of Mary, she decided to follow Him. In her walk with Jesus, she served in different ways she knew how. She did not only serve Christ, but also His followers.
She isn’t afraid to take on the menial tasks. She is just happy doing her part in advancing the word of God.
Mary Magdalene was CONSISTENT in having a serving attitude. She served Christ during His ministry here on earth. She was present when the people persecuted Christ. She was there when Christ was nailed to the cross. She was there when the body of Christ was put in the tomb.
She was busy preparing the spice to anoint Christ’s body. As a result, she has seen the glorified and resurrected Christ.
Now, it does not stop there. After witnessing Christ’s irrefutable proof of His divine nature, she continued serving Him as well as the brethren, doing everything in her power to serve.
In the same manner, we must always be on our feet, ready to serve. We must be willing to grab every opportunity of doing the will of God.
Lesson no. 9: Christ sees the value in everyone
If you are living during the time of Christ and you saw Mary Magdalene possessed of seven demons, what would you think of her?
In the eyes of many people, she is HOPELESS. One demon is enough to torment your life. But in the case of Mary Magdalene, she has SEVEN!
People could have hidden their face away from Mary. They might have looked at her with disgust or pity. But it is apparent that no one can help her until Christ came.
For many people, Mary Magdalene is a lost cause. There’s nothing that can heal her. However, Christ has something different in mind. He did not let what other people think about Mary Magdalene prevent Him from healing her.
What people see as hopeless, Christ sees as a daughter of God. Christ transformed her life, from a demoniac to a woman whose contribution to his ministry is immeasurable.
In the life of Mary Magdalene, we have seen God’s power to use even the most hopeless situation for His glory and to take advantage of that for the fulfillment of His will on this earth.
Lesson no. 10: Seek God’s healing
The death of Jesus did not just make salvation available to the rest of the world, but it also made possible a very important part of our Christian lives: God’s divine healing.
We read in the prophetic message of Isaiah how the suffering and death of Christ allow us to get healed.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).
One of the reasons why we get sick and weak is the inability to discern the Lord’s body. We forget that Christ’s sacrifice made it possible for us to come boldly to God and ask for healing. This is exactly what happened to the Corinthian church:
For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep (II Corinthians 29:30).
Mary Magdalene experienced the healing power of God through Jesus Christ. It portrays the type of healing we can also enjoy when Christ will finally be crucified and resurrected.
Thus, when we get sick, we must seek God’s healing. He is the source of good health. He is more than willing to heal us from our infirmities as long as it is part of His will.
Make sure you also read 10 Remarkable Reasons Why Jesus Have to Die.
Lesson no. 11: God can cleanse us of our sins
No matter what sin you may have committed before, you can always go to God and ask for forgiveness.
There’s no sin big enough that God can’t forgive. As long as we sincerely repent of them, we can surely obtain mercy before God’s throne of grace.
Mary Magdalene could have committed a lot of sin before, both big and small. Living a life apart from God made her susceptible to the terrible influence of demons.
However, once she met Christ, her life dramatically changed for the better. After receiving God’s healing, she has two choices: to go back to her old life or live a new life dedicated to God.
It is comforting to know that the sacrifice of Christ made it possible for our sins to be forgiven. He poured down his blood to wash us from our sins. We read:
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin… If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:7-9).
Lesson no. 12: God turns our grief to joy
Life can be so lonely sometimes. Life can throw an avalanche of problems that can quickly get us down on our knees.
However, when life knocks you off, where do you turn to? Do you turn to worldly entertainment? Do you turn to excessive drinking? Do you lock up yourself in the room all day?
Or do you turn to God, the source of comfort and joy?
Mary Magdalene is among the most passionate follower of Jesus. She loves Christ so much that she’s not afraid of dying just to stay close to Him.
However, seeing Jesus gruesomely suffer in such a close distance can destroy anyone’s heart. The sight of Christ bathing in His own blood, filled with so many wounds and injuries, is enough for Mary to be filled with sorrow and grief.
When Mary Magdalene discovered that the tomb was empty and someone could have stolen the corpse of Christ, her anguish and sadness immediately made even worse.
For Mary, it is unimaginable to think that someone could have even thought of stealing Christ’s body. Isn’t it enough for them to sadistically kill Christ that they have to even desecrate His dead body?
We read Mary’s reaction when she knew that the body of Christ is missing:
“But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb” (John 20:11).
If you look into the Greek word of weeping from this verse, it means to WAIL ALOUD!
So, we see the outward manifestation of the great grief and sadness of Mary Magdalene. You can just imagine the wave of emotional outpour of despondency and unhappiness of this follower of Christ. When the disciples left, she still remained near the tomb to lament the missing body of Christ.
What a great dedication Mary Magdalene has for Christ.
It is also worth noting that our sadness can also lead us to faithlessness or doubt. Mary, who spent close companionship of Christ, should have known that Jesus predicted that He will rise on the third day. Mary should have remembered those words, but his heart is filled with tremendous sadness that she lost sight of Jesus’ promise of resurrection.
Thankfully, Jesus appeared to her. The indescribable sorrow of Mary Magdalene suddenly turned into a joyous outburst of relief, excitement, and elation.
When Jesus called out Mary’s name, she knew that it was her Master. There’s no need for introduction. Mary immediately recognized the voice she accustomed to hearing.
As you can see, there’s no greater joy than to be in the presence of God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Thus, if ever you are sad, lonely, and depressed. Remember that you are never alone.
Instead of running away from God, you need to run towards Him. From there, you will find your inner comfort, joy, and peace.
These are the best lessons that we learn from the life of Mary Magdalene. Her story shows us that even if our lives are filled with mistakes, we can still turn our lives around.
It’s never too late. There’s always hope and that hope can only be found in God.
In life, we are given a choice, whether we live this life according to our will or God’s will.
Mary Magdalene made the right choice. She lived a life in service of the Messiah and fulfilled her God-given mission.
May we all have the courage and faith to carry on until the end. Even if all hopes are gone, we still carry on until we achieve God’s purpose in our lives.