A Real Wonder Woman
Mary of Magdala Blazes the Trail to Easter
Mary Magdalene was one of the named women in the group who traveled with Jesus from Galilee. Many modern scholars believe her ministry during Jesus’ life on earth was as significant as Peter’s, albeit in different ways.
Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher.
Excluding Mother Mary, the leading disciple, Mary Magdalene appears to have been closest to Jesus during his ministry and at the cross. The fact that she was free to follow Jesus consistently indicates she was of comfortable means and a single woman with few home duties.
Many scholars believe that, like Joanna (see Luke 8:3; 24:10), Mary devoted herself to the service of Jesus and the ministry of his disciples. In her time, Magdala was a thriving and popular town, and a center for commercial sexual activity at the south of the plain of Gennesaret. Scholars emphasize that this Mary is not to be confused with Mary of Bethany, who anointed Jesus’ head in anticipation of his impending passion, death, and rushed burial. They are different people, each identified by the name of the town where she resided. Mary’s name occurs fourteen times in the Gospels—considerably more frequently than any other female disciple, even the Mother of Jesus. In eight of the passages, Mary Magdalene heads the list of women disciples, in one she is second only to Mother Mary, and in five she appears alone. This is ample evidence that she was the leader among the women and that she was totally and unconditionally committed to Jesus’ ministry and mission.
It is widely believed she was the woman Jesus healed from grave illness. We read in Mark’s Gospel:
When he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.
Mark 16:9 (Luke 8:2)