One of the genuine pleasures that come from studying the Bible is to look upon the various characters around whom various stories revolve. One could spend a lifetime doing nothing but studying the characters of the Bible and one would be strengthened spiritually for having done so. There are two kinds of people who are generally mentioned in the Bible. One is those who are very righteous and fully desirous of following God and living a life of faith. The other is those whose lives are very wicked and from whom we learn how not to live as we attempt to serve Christ upon this earth.
One of the characters who has always caught my attention and about whom I have had the joy of studying, intermittently through the years, is a lady by the name of Mary Magdalene. Several things can be learned about her from the New Testament and we will take the opportunity of noticing only a very few today.
The first thing we wish to notice about this devoted follower of Jesus Christ is that Jesus had at some time in her life cast seven demons out of her (Mark 16:9). What these demons were and how they affected her we are not told, but the evidence supports the view that her heart was filled with gratitude for what Jesus had done for her, and she, along with some other women, became disciples of our Lord. Mary is often accused of being a prostitute, but to the best of my knowledge, such a charge is never made against her by the Sacred Volume. Men assume that she was a lady of ill repute because the Bible says that she had seven demons. How that connection is made, we are not sure, so I repudiate the idea that she was that kind of woman.
She certainly was a faithful follower of our Lord, and along with the other women who followed him, she attended to the needs of our Lord and his disciples from the time that she first began to follow Jesus in Luke 8:2 until the time of the resurrection and ascension of our Lord. As a matter of fact, she, and some of the other women, stayed with the Lord during his arrest and crucifixion when some of the men who had followed Jesus ran away to hide from the Lord's enemies.
When Jesus was taken down from the cross, wrapped in a clean linen cloth and laid in the new tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary who was the mother of James and Joses were the ones who sat opposite the tomb watching the burial. Furthermore, when the Sabbath was over, it was Mary Magdalene who, along with the other Mary, came to the tomb of Jesus to find it empty very early in the morning upon the first day of the week.
After the resurrection of Jesus, it was Mary Magdalene, along with the other Mary who was told to take the message of the Lord's resurrection back to his disciples. After his resurrection from the grave, Jesus appeared to Mary who was weeping so profoundly because his body was absent from the grave, and she had come to believe that someone had stolen it and had hidden it somewhere else in the cemetery. Jesus, you will recall, approached this woman from behind, and when she turned to see him he asked her why she was weeping, and she, thinking that he was the caretaker of the cemetery, turned to him and said, "Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take him away" (John 20:15). Jesus then spoke her name in such a manner as she was able to recognize his voice, and she obviously threw her arms around him thinking that he was alive in the same sense that he had been before and was going to stay on the earth with his disciples. But Jesus said, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father, but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'" Mary was obedient to her Lord and she went immediately to his male disciples and told them that she had seen the Lord and that he had spoken to her!
Think of the joy that must have been in the heart of this good woman for whom Jesus had done such great things. Mary went from deep grief to rejoicing in a matter of seconds when she learned that Jesus was not really dead and gone. The apostle John is the only one of the biographers of Jesus who mentioned this matter, and were it not for him, we might never have known the depth of devotion that this woman had for Jesus our Savior. No recounting of the story of the resurrection of our Lord would be complete without recounting the part that was played by Mary Magdalene in bringing the news of the resurrection of the Lord to his male disciples. After this the Lord would begin making his appearances to various people at various times and this would go on for a period of some forty days.
Mary went from a woman possessed with demons to being cured by the Lord, and then followed him all the way to the tomb, and sat weeping in the cemetery because she thought his body had been removed and placed elsewhere. How fortunate we are that God saw fit to reveal to us what he did about Mary the wonderful woman of Magdala!