Mary Magdalene Biography

There is no record of Mary Magdalene’s parentage, marital status, or age.  The term Magdalene denotes her hometown, Magdala, a Galilean coast city.  The Bible reports that Christ delivered Mary from seven demons and thus won her lifelong love and devotion.  Contrary to what some surmise, though Magdala  may have been known for some prostitution, there is no biblical evidence that Mary ever practiced such herself.

Following her conversion Luke links Mary with other women who accompanied Jesus and the disciples in their travels, providing for the group’s financial needs out of their own resources.  This suggests that Mary may not have had home obligations and probably enjoyed some independent means of income.

Mary Magdalene meets the resurrected Jesus in the garden

Mary Magdalene meets the resurrected Jesus in the garden

It was when Jesus faced his ultimate humiliation and suffering that Mary’s fearless loyalty stands out in boldest relief.  When almost every other disciple had run away in terror, Mary stood with Christ’s mother and several other women at the Crucifixion.  As Jesus hovered near death that Friday afternoon, the women edged closer to the cross.  When He died, Mary followed those who carried him to his tomb and mentally memorized the tomb’s location.

Early on Sunday morning Mary and two other women brought additional burial spices to Christ’s tomb.  When they arrived, the tombstone was rolled to the side and a being proclaimed to them that Jesus had been raised from death and would meet the disciples in Galilee.  Still doubtful and confused, Mary stayed near the gravesite weeping while the other women returned home.  A man approached and asked Mary why she was crying.  Assuming he was the gardener, she asked the man where Jesus’ body had been taken.  When the man called her name Mary immediately realized that it was Christ.  Astounded with joy Mary rushed to the disciples’ hideout and exclaimed that she’d actually seen Jesus!

What an honor it was to be the first person to whom Christ appeared following His resurrection.  Mary, who had been delivered from much, loved supremely.  She who would willingly have died for Jesus was chosen to proclaim that the Christ who had died for her was now alive forever.

What can we learn from Mary Magdalene?

Though in grave danger from raging Jewish leaders and edgy Roman soldiers, Mary stayed with Jesus during his dying hours.  She was there at the tomb though Christ was no longer present to approve.  This woman who loved Jesus so devotedly both in His life and His death was still there to meet Him following his great triumph over death. Are we as supremely devoted to Christ as this lone woman from Magdala?

Bible Verses about Mary Magdalene

Matthew 27:56, 61; 28:1;  Mark 15:40, 47; 16:1-19; Luke 8:2; 24:10; John 19:25; 20:1-18

What questions does this help to answer?

  • Who was Mary Magdalene in the Bible?
  • Who went to Jesus’ tomb?
  • Who were Jesus’ female followers?

Author Info

Steve Fortosis served for six years as youth minister in several parishes.  Meanwhile he was also working toward his masters, then his doctorate in religious education.  Through the years he has enjoyed teaching on the college and seminary levels and writing professionally.  He has published a number of books including story and prayer compilations, missionary biography, Biblical character biography, devotional lit, children’s lit, and even stories of Bible translation. Presently he resides in Florida with his wife, Debra, where he teaches part-time and writes on a free-lance basis.

Steve Fortosis