Mary Magdalene came from a now-vanished town called Magdala, on the western side of the Sea of Galilee. Mary Magdalene is usually thought of as the second-most important woman in the New Testament after Mary, the mother of Jesus. Her last name distinguishes her from the other Marys referred to throughout the New Testament. Mary means ‘wise woman/lady.’ It is a Greek form of the Hebrew Miriam or Mariamme, and was the most popular woman’s name at the time.
Mary Magdalene is mentioned a total of 12 times in the New Testament. All 12 occurrences appear in the gospel accounts, wherein we learn the following:
- Jesus cast seven demons out of her (Luke 8:2; Mark 16:9).
- Mary Magdalene was a disciple of Jesus (Luke 8:1-3).
- Mary Magdalene was one of many who provided for Jesus out of her own means (Luke 8:1-3).
- Mary Magdalene was at the crucifixion (Mark 15:40-41, Luke 23:49, Matthew 27:55-56, John 19:25). She was present in each of the four accounts of the crucifixion and death of Jesus. All four gospels mention her, faithful to the end.
- Mary Magdalene prepared Jesus’ body for burial (Luke 23:55-56, Matthew 27:61). She watched as Jesus’ body was sealed inside the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. She could confirm that he was really dead. She and the other women prepared the spices needed for proper burial of a body.
- Mary Magdalene witnessed the resurrection (Mark 16:1-11, Luke 24:1-11, Matthew 28:1-10, John 20:1-18). On the Resurrection morning, Mary found that Jesus’ body was no longer in the tomb. She was the first person to witness the resurrection, a world-changing event. She is called ‘Apostle to the Apostles’, since the risen Jesus told her to ‘go and tell.’ And after Jesus’ ascension, Mary was most likely in the upper room when the Holy Spirit came upon them.
In His service,