When Mary Magdalene first met Jesus, she was a total mess. She was possessed by demons and haunted by an ugly past. People looked down on her. But none of this kept Jesus from showing her love. Jesus cast seven demons out of her. Mary loved Jesus for the hope He gave her.
Her support was vital to Jesus’ ministry. Mary proved her devotion to Jesus in life as well as death many times over. She was part of a group of women who traveled with Jesus, taking care of His needs.
While many of the other disciples fled and abandoned Jesus during His arrest and crucifixion, Mary Magdalene remained a true friend throughout. She was bravely present throughout His death and burial. She was a true biblical hero.
Mary was the sister of Martha and Lazarus. They lived in Bethany. Jesus and His disciples often rested at their house and Mary and Martha would look after them. The siblings were great supporters and friends of Jesus.
During Jesus’ first visit to their home, Martha complained to Jesus about Mary not helping her with the meal preparation. Mary had been sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening with great interest to all He had to say. Martha was anxious to provide for her guests’ comfort and in her anxiety, she forgot the courtesy due to this special guest.
Jesus answered her with mild, patient words: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Mary had learned to seek out what was most important: a relationship with Jesus.
On another occasion, Lazarus fell sick and died. Jesus resisted coming to Bethany until Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days. Jesus waited four days because of a Jewish superstition: it was believed that the soul of the dead remained near the grave for three days, hoping to return to the body. After four days there was definitely no hope of a body’s revival.
Firstly Martha, and later Mary, approached Jesus in tears berating Him for not coming sooner. They believed if Jesus had been there earlier, Lazarus would not have died. Jesus was moved by their grief and angered at death and all the misery it causes. Jesus wept. He went to Lazarus’ tomb and asked to have the stone removed. The stone was rolled away. Jesus then called Lazarus to come out and wouldn't you know it? Lazarus emerged, alive and still in his grave clothes!
During Jesus’ last visit to Bethany, Simon the Leper, Mary’s uncle who was a Pharisee, threw a big feast for Jesus who had healed him of leprosy. He was eager to show Jesus how grateful he was.
During the feast Jesus sat with Simon on one side and Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead, on the other. While Martha served at the table, Mary earnestly listened to every word of Jesus. In His mercy, Jesus had brought her brother back from the dead and Mary’s heart was full of gratitude. She also felt convicted to turn away from the sins of her past and live a life that was in harmony with Jesus’ teachings. She longed for a fresh start.
Mary had heard Jesus speak of His imminent death. This pained her and she wanted to show Jesus how much she loved and respected Him in a special way. Using a large sum of her money, Mary bought an alabaster box of "ointment of spikenard, very costly," with which to anoint Jesus.
Mary was overcome by emotion as she poured the very expensive perfume on Jesus' head and feet, all the while kneeling and crying. She then dried His feet with her hair. Mary had witnessed firsthand Jesus’ pure and righteous nature, and this was her way of showing how much she loved and respected Him.
Mary tried to be discrete, not wishing to be noticed by anyone, but the scent of the perfume filled the room and soon everyone realized what she had done.
The disciple Judas became angry, saying that the money spent on such expensive perfume could have been put to better use for the poor. What he probably meant was that he could have put the money to better use. Judas was treasurer for the disciples and embezzled their money.
Jesus saw Mary’s embarrassment and distress and told the guests to leave her alone. He knew that she was just expressing her love for Him and desire to live a better life. Jesus forgave Mary's sins and accepted her show of devotion.
Jesus also blessed and dignified her act of love by proclaiming that “wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Matthew 26:13).
It was no coincidence that Mary Magdalene was among the first group of people to find Jesus’ empty tomb after His death and resurrection. Early on Sunday morning Mary, together with some other women, hurried to Jesus’ tomb. They took spices and herbs to properly prepare His body for burial.
The women who came to Jesus’ tomb that Sunday morning had come from different directions. Mary Magdalene was the first to reach the place; she saw the stone had been rolled away and left to find Jesus' disciples.
Meanwhile, the other women arrived. They saw an angel who looked like lightning and whose clothes were white as snow. The angel told them not to be afraid and that Jesus had risen and was no longer in the tomb. The angel invited them to look inside the tomb and see for themselves. Then he told them to go and tell the other disciples that Jesus was alive and would meet them in Galilee. Though still afraid, they were full of joy and ran to tell the others.
Mary had not heard the good news but returned to the tomb still weeping because she didn't know where Jesus’ body was. She then saw the two angels but was so distraught and overcome with tears she didn’t recognize them for what they were. Just then Jesus approached her, but she thought the man was only the gardener.
Mary asked Him to tell her where Jesus’ body was, saying that if He had put it somewhere else, she would take it. Jesus had been buried in the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.
All Jesus had to do was say her name. Even if her eyes were unable to see Him through her tears, her ears recognized His voice. He told her to go and tell the others what had happened. Through this experience, Mary had the distinction of being the first person to see the risen Jesus. This alone qualifies her as a true Bible hero.