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Mary Magdalene: a Character Study (a Disciple of Jesus)

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    In this lesson, the participant will learn some very basic information about Mary Magdalene, Students will also learn that the thoughts of one person can effectively change the reputation of an individual. Welcome my friends and thank you for joining me as we take a short journey into the life of Mary Magdalene!! Who is Mary Magdalene? Her name conjures many pictures in our minds and immediately we form an opinion about who she was and believe that since we who she is no discussion is needed.

    I have learned that not everything we learned as children is correct. I attended Catholic school from First through Twelfth grade and I remember hearing about Mary Magdalene. I was told that she was a big sinner and that all of us girls needed to be careful if we didn’t want to grow to be like her. We were told that she was a prostitute and that she slept around with men. I’m sure that is what most o you have to hear about her. I can assure you that doing this study has taught me many things about Mary Magdalene and you will be surprised.

    So, who was Mary Magdalene? Well, one of the first things that I learned is that she is only mentioned in fourteen verses in the New Testament. She came from a small prosperous town on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, which in the canonical gospels is called by its Aramaic name, Magdala. In Greek, it is known as Tarichaeae.

    In ancient times, the town had a reputation for exporting quality salt fish and fish oil. It is possible Mary herself and/or her family was engaged in some business related to the fishing industry. This occupation is well proven for women in early Roman Palestine, and the rulers in the Herodian court at nearby Tiberias regularly purchased goods from female suppliers. When Mary is introduced in Luke 8:2, she is in the company of Joanna, the wife of a Herodian official, suggesting Mary had contact with the court. What is in your mind so far? This is quite different than anything you learned before I’m sure. Mary’s parents were wealthy it seems which means that so was she. This would enable her to do almost whatever she wanted.

    Keep that in mind as we continue our discussion today and let’s now turn our attention to some of the bible verses that feature Mary Magdalene. Matthew 27:56 – Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. Matthew 28:1 – After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. Mark 15:40 – Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. Mark 15:47 – Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.

    Mark 16:1-19 – When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb? ”But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee.

    There you will see him, just as he told you.  Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone because they were afraid. When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it. Afterward, Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country.  These returned and reported it to the rest, but they did not believe them either. Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

     He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name, they will drive out demons;they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well. After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.  Luke 8:2 –  and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out. Luke 24:10 – 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.

    John 20:1-18 20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.  So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him! ” So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head.

    The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally, the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying. Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? ” They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him. ”

    At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for? ” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him. ” Jesus said to her, “Mary. ” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni! ” (which means “Teacher”).  Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.

    Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. ” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord! ” And she told them that he had said these things to her. What is the first thing you notice after hearing/having read these verses? What came to mind as you heard these men of God-talk of Mary Magdalene? Did you notice that Mary Magdalene was the first name in most of these verses? Did you notice that her name came even before the name of the mother of our Lord?

    What does this say about Mary Magdalene? Does this fit in with your idea of who she is and what you’ve been taught?

    Reading & Group Discussion

    • The discussion will focus on what comes to mind when the name Mary Magdalene is mentioned and comes to mind and what the scriptures say she is.
    • Do you notice that whenever the Galilean women disciples are mentioned, Mary Magdalene is mentioned first?

    OK, so tonight we’ve learned that Mary Magdalene and her family came from a wealthy community who sold salted fish and fish oil to the Herodian court[6] and she was well known by the court. 7] Only those that were financially well off would have been able to mingle casually with them. Mary Magdalene, however, also had a problem. She had been troubled by evil spirits most of her life[8]. She heard of Jesus and decided that she needed to see him so she could ask Him if He could deliver her from this evil. [9]   So here in Luke 8:2, we read again: “… and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene)(A) from whom seven demons had come out”, we know that this is exactly what Jesus did.

    So ladies, get ready, for when we meet again we will continue our slide show presentation and discussion on Mary Magdalene. There is so much more for us to learn about her that will be new to all of you. Have a safe trip home and blessings to all of you.


    In this lesson, students will learn the historical and secular views of Mary Magdalene and the erroneous manner in which these actions occurred. We will also read, study, and discuss the Bible passages that discusses how Jesus healed Mary Magdalene. Hello sisters, I am so glad to see all of you and I am happy that you have allowed me to take over our prayer group once again. Believe me, you will be glad that you did, as Mary Magdalene became very important in the life of Jesus and to the spread of Christianity. Last time we learned that Mary Magdalene came from a small-time near Galilee[10], that she and her parents were well to do, and that she was plagued by demons.  History tells us that Jesus traveled from town to town telling us the good news of God’s kingdom. When Mary Magdalene heard of Jesus, she came to him and he healed her(Luke 8:1-2; Mark 16; 9).

    Can you think of how the Jewish people may have treated Mary Magdalene? Just like the bleeding woman who touched the cloak of Jesus,( Matthew 9:20), she was probably ostracized in her community, treated like an outcast in her culture due to the possessions, probably feared and reviled, certainly considered unclean. She wanted people to stop giving her those weird looks as she walked by. Can you imagine how she felt during those moments when her mind was clear? How did she want to be normal, to be treated normally by everyone but most of by her family?

    Her family had tried everything and taken her to physicians who said they could heal her, yet her she was still the same. Everyone had given up on her She heard of Jesus, and knew that he was willing to break social restrictions. Can you imagine what she was feeling and thinking as she walked toward Jesus? Can you feel her heart pounding in her chest as she approached Him? I must imagine that it must have taken her some of the following qualities to reach out to Jesus:

    • It took faith to reach out to Jesus
    • It took faith to be healed
    • Her faith in Jesus transformed her life
    • Her faith allowed her to receive God’s love.

    Now demons, have different qualities and it is possible that the ones that inhabited Mary Magdalene had some or all of these qualities:

    • demoniacs sometimes exhibit physical signs of possession – they seem to have illnesses
    • epileptic seizures (MAT 17:15-19).
    • being “dumb” (MAT 9:32,33).
    • being “blind” (MAT 12:22).

    they try to destroy themselves by:

    • cutting themselves with stones (MRK 5:5)
    • throwing themselves in fire or water (MAT 17:15; MRK 9:22)

    they attack others: MAT 8:28, two demoniacs violently attack passersby(MRK 5:4 )

    • a demon-possessed man jumped on and beat the seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest. (ACT 19:16 )

    Once healed Mary Magdalene became a disciple of Jesus and she traveled with Him and the other 12 disciples. [13] Now, there is another story about Mary Magdalene, the one we have all heard about and learned of growing up, and the one that you have been sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear of( anticipate laughter)… the story of Mary Magdalene the prostitute. Luke 7:37-38 says, ” … 7 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears.

    Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured perfume on them” Although this woman has no name, Mary Magdalene was associated with her because she is introduced in Luke 8:1. If that’s not bad enough, the Talmud, reports that the town she came from, Magdala, had a reputation for prostitution. [14] Wait, I have one more for you, Pope Gregory, who became pope in 590 A.D., clinched Mary’s mistaken reputation as a sinner when he delivered a powerful homily in which he combined Luke’s anonymous sinful woman (Lk 7:36-50) with Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene. He said, “She whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John calls Mary, we believe to be the Mary from whom seven devils were ejected according to Mark. And what did these seven devils signify, if not all the vices? ”So naturally, Mary Magdalene came from Magdala, and she was possessed by seven demons, so of course she had to be a prostitute and therefore a sinner[15].

    Thank God we have Him on our side and that He sent His only Son to die on the cross for our sins for we as humans get very busy being judge and jury!! Ok sisters, what did we learn today? That Mary Magdalene was a tormented and tortured young woman who was lost and alone despite the fact that her parents were well off. She was possessed by seven demons and her parents probably tried everything and went to many medical professionals seeking help for their daughter with no help. Then she heard of Jesus. She heard of all he was doing and saying in the neighboring cities and towns and during her clear moments had faith that he could heal her.

    Poor Mary Magdalene, she never had a chance prior to meeting Jesus. Well, ladies, it’s been a good evening, we learned a lot. Get home safe and prepare for more excitement next week.


    In this last and final lesson, the student will read and discuss the bible verses directly related to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. We will also learn the importance of Mary Magdalene’s relationship with Jesus and her leadership after the death of Jesus. Hello my friends, I want to thank you once again for allowing me to spend these last few weeks discussing, reading, and getting to Mary Magdalene a little better.

    I believe that ” All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,”[16] and humankind has tried yet again to be judge and jury and assigned to a woman the worst sin of all ” prostitution”. As I said two weeks ago, thank God we had Him and the fact that He sent His only Son to die for us. Leader Mark 15:40 – Some women were watching from a distance. (A) Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph,[a] and Salome. Mark 15:47 – Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.

    Mark 16:1 – When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Matthew 27:56 – Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. Mary Magdalene “was an important disciple of Jesus who followed him in Galilee and to Jerusalem. She is always listed first in groups of named female disciples”. She is mentioned in all four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion. Mary was one of the women Luke named in chapter 8, not only following Jesus but serving him from her own means.

    Early non-canonical Christian writings show faith communities growing up around Mary’s ministry, where she is portrayed as understanding Jesus’ message better than did Peter and the male disciples. [18] Scholars tell us that these writings are not about the historical person’s Mary and Peter but instead reflect tensions over women’s roles in the early church. Prominent leaders such as Mary and Peter were evoked to justify opposing points of view. What is not disputed is the recognition of Mary of Magdala as an important woman leader in the earliest Christianity.

    Mary Magdalene was faithful to Jesus not only after Hid’s death but during Hid’s most painful time… the time when He was on the cross when all His other disciples with the exception of John had run away. Matthew writes that “she was present at the burial of the Lord. ” Before her eyes, Joseph and Nikodemos went out to the tomb with His lifeless body; before her eyes, they covered over the entrance to the cave with a large stone, behind which went the Sun of Life.


    1. Bauer, Walter. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Rev. and ed. Frederick William Danker. 3rd ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P. 608.
    2. Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for ‘”MARY” AND “MAGDALENE”‘ in the NLT”. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. Available at <>, accessed on 18 Sep 2012.
    3. Capoccia, Tony. Mary Magdalene. “Bible Bulletin Board; C. H. Spurgeon Collection”. Internet. Available from, accessed 30 September 2012.
    4. Constable, Thomas Dr. Notes On John: Introduction. Available at , accessed on 16 Sept. 2012.
    5. Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s. v. “Saint Mary Magdalene,” accessed 16 September 2012, http://www.britannica. com/EBchecked/topic/367559/Saint-Mary-Magdalene.
    6. Encyclopedia of Religion. Treacy-Cole, Diane. “Mary Magdalene. Ed. Lindsay Jones. 2nd ed. Vol. 9. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005. 5756-5758. Gale Virtual Reference Library.
    7. Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion. Ed. David A. Leeming, Kathryn Madden, and Stanton Marlan. New York: Springer, 2010. 547-551. Word Count: 3705.
    8. Green, Joel, and Scot McKnight and I Howard Marshall. The Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Downers Grove: InterVasrsity Press. 1992
    9. Hartenstein, Judith. Mary Magdalene the Apostle: A Re-interpretation of LiteraryTraditions? Lectio Difficilior. Available at, accessed 16 Sep 2012.
    10. Hill, Brennan R. Jesus the Christ: Contemporary Perspectives. Twenty-Third Publications, Mystic, Connecticut,2004.
    11. Huddleston, G. Pope St. Gregory I (“the Great”). In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Internet. Available at accessed on 14 September 2012.
    12. King, Karen L. The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle Polebridge Press, Santa Rosa, California, 2003.
    13. MAGDALA: The unedited full-text of the Jewish Encyclopedia. Internet. Available from, accessed 16 September 2012.
    14. Smith, William “Mary Magdalene”, Smith’s Bible Dictionary. Blue Letter Bible. 1884. 30 Dec 2010 to 7 Oct 2012.

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