calm woman among blooming flowers

Single Women of the Bible: Mary Magdalene

Continuing our look at the single ladies in the bible! Many women in the bible remain unnamed, but not Mary Magdalene. She’s brought onto the scene of God’s story in a dramatic manner. When we think of Mary Magdalene we may have preconceived ideas about her. Perhaps it’s the stories we have heard from the pulpit, our interpretation of the bible or the common belief in our circle. Sometimes it’s hard to keep it all clear – after all the name Mary in our time, as in Jesus’ time, is a common name.

Her story intrigues me because in some aspects I can relate to her, I feel drawn to her story and desire to examine her experience of freedom closer. Luke 8:1-2 (TPT) speaks of how she started with the Jesus movement. “Soon afterward, Jesus began a ministry tour throughout the country, visiting cities and villages to announce the wonderful news of God’s kingdom realm. His twelve disciples travelled with him and also a number of women who had been healed of many illnesses under his ministry and set free from demonic power. Jesus had cast out seven demons from one woman. Her name was Mary Magdalene, for she was from the village of Magdala…”

Can you imagine having seven demons cast out of you? How was life before this? Perhaps you can understand or empathize with her because of your own “demons”. They are not actual spirits but rather a sense of overwhelming struggle and floundering. Perhaps you struggle with finances, lack of employment or some other pressing issue. I struggle with anxiety, depression and PTSD and some days it’s hard to get out of bed, to have the motivation to perform the tasks on the “To Do” list. Everyone is struggling with something – so we can all relate to Mary’s story. 

The thoughts that torment a person who struggles with mental health is overwhelming at times. But Jesus doesn’t shy away from this! He welcomes her and wants to see her fully healed. Just like Jesus wanted to see Mary healed, I believe he wants us to be healed. Healing comes in varied ways: such as with counselling, medication, prayer and support, to name a few. I sit and ponder “how amazing it would be to be fully set free from my fears” like Mary Magdalene was from her issues!? To not have to worry or be afraid. To be able to live life fully and abundantly, as Jesus desires. John 10: 10 “A thief has only one thing in mind—he wants to steal, slaughter,[a] and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance, [b] more than you expect[c]—life in its fullness until you overflow!”

One thing Mary had going for her was : money. Mary was able to help Jesus financially because she was wealthy and single. Her money didn’t have to be spent on taking care of her family. Jokingly parents comment “If it wasn’t for these kids I would be a millionaire”. It’s true, the cost of raising children is high! Mary can support Jesus’ ministry because she doesn’t have familial obligations that sap her finances. She chooses to support the cause! Source: This makes her an asset in the kingdom of God -she proceeds to give so the gospel can spread. Maybe you and I can’t give large sums of money – but anything helps! Perhaps you give of your talents in other ways – this is all important.

Her story isn’t all unicorns and rainbows, however. She has to endure the most gut-wrenching and heart-rending part of the story – she watches her teacher be hung on a tree like a criminal. She must be torn inside, broken by the choices of others. This man who healed her from such oppression and pain is now hanging on display to be mocked and insulted by the public. Her heart must be broken into a thousand little pieces, hopes and dreams of following him must be crushed. What will she do now? How will she go on? What purpose does she have now that everything has changed?

My favorite part of her story is finding the empty tomb! (Spoiler alert) John’s gospel tells us “Very early Sunday morning, before sunrise, Mary Magdalene made her way to the tomb. And when she arrived she discovered that the stone that sealed the entrance to the tomb was moved away!” .. (Note some of the gospels say three women had gone to the tomb – not just Mary – but regardless, she was there!) She thinks Jesus’ body has been stolen and runs to get the disciples. The story continues saying that Mary came back with the disciples and was distraught! She didn’t even go into the tomb with the disciples. As she stood outside she saw a man, who she thought was the gardener, and while sobbing asked him if he knew where did they took her Lord? “Dear woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for? “Jesus was standing in her midst and she didn’t realize it was Him! It wasn’t until he called her by name that she realized that it was Jesus. “Mary” and she looked at his face and saw her teacher “Rabboni”. I love it when Jesus says “Mary”! I get goosebumps! We can each put our own name in the text. I imagine she is just beside herself with fear and uneasiness until he speaks. It’s as if when he says her name, she is brought back to reality, to the truth. No longer unmanageable – she hears Him! He calms her fears! He is there!

It’s akin to when God speaks to us when are overwhelmed, distraught and spinning out of control. How will I feed my family now that I have lost my job? How will I be able to pay for this medication? How will this presidential election affect me? How will I know what my purpose in life is? Especially when those dreams look impossible amidst our circumstances. That’s when He stops us in our tracks! He calls our name! He calms our fears and gives us the hope to carry on. He admonishes us: stop focusing on your troubles, your fears, your anxieties and focus on me! Look into my face and see me. The one who can deliver you! The one who is your rear guard, who hems you in and protects you. You carry on! This is not the end! I have a great plan and purpose for you!

God’s Blessing to you and yours,

Emmy McKirgan

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“Consequently, faith comes from hearing
the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”
~ Romans 10:17

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