Luke (ch. 10:39, 42) and John (chs. 11:1, 2, 19, 20, 28, 31, 32, 45; 12:3) both mention and identify a Mary of Bethany. Mary was known as Mary Magdalene (probably “of Magdala,” a city on the western coastline of the Lake of Galilee (Matt. 15:39).
It is possible that Mary of Bethany left home because of her sinful lifestyle and found a home in Magdala. Most of the recorded incidents of Jesus’ Galilean ministry took place in the area of the Plain of Gennesaret, where Magdala was located. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that upon the time in Jesus’ early visits to Magdala, He freed Mary from demon possession just prior to the Second Galilean Tour (Luke 8:2; Mark 16:9).
Mary is listed among the women who accompanied Jesus on the Second Galilean Tour (Luke 8:1–3). Then after going with Jesus on the Second Galilean Tour, she could have returned to Bethany as new transformed person, and again made her home there. Later on, Mary is mentioned by all four Gospels in connection with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (Matt. 27:56, 61; 28:1; Mark 15:40, 47; 16:1, 9; Luke 24:10; John 19:25; 20:1, 11, 16, 18).
This possibility does not, of course, prove that Mary of Bethany and Mary of Magdala are to be identified as the same person, but it does give a reasonable scenario for what could have happened. This explanation fits well with all the other information that is given in the gospel account in relation to the story of Mary.
In His service,
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