As Jesus burst victoriously from the grave, He might have revealed Himself first to a powerful world-leader like Caesar… or to a renown religious leader, maybe even the High Priest… or to His faithful and trusted disciples, Peter, James, and John. He didn’t. After three days in the belly of the earth, Jesus broke the bondage of death, and immediately revealed Himself to Mary Magdalene.
Who was Mary of Magdala?
Magdala, Mary’s hometown, was barely on the map. The little fishing village on the western shore of Galilee, also known as Magadan, is only mentioned once in Scripture (Matthew 15:39). Nothing important occurred there. Nobody famous hailed from there. Mary was a nobody from nowhere.
So, who was she? Before Jesus graciously and miraculously transformed Mary’s life, she was a wreck! Like the Gadarene demoniac, Mary had been demon-possessed, with seven supernatural, devilish spirits taking up residence within her! (Mark 16:9, Luke 8:2).
It’s quite possible that the demon-possessed woman was a prostitute, carelessly selling her body to lust-filled men. Most likely, Mary was scorned by all upstanding citizens in her village, hated, despised, rejected. It’s possible that she was homeless, dirty, hungry, alone.
Some commentators and theologians have speculated that Mary may have been the once “sinful woman” who disrupted the Pharisee’s dinner party to anoint the feet of Jesus with the “alabaster jar of perfume” (Luke 7:36-39). There’s no evidence to substantiate this idea, but it seems to fit with the rest of Scripture.
When Mary met Jesus, she was renewed and remade! The demon-possessed became possessed by the Spirit of the Living God!
Mary was among a group of ladies who “ministered to Jesus” (Mark 15:41, ESV). She served her Savior, her Lord and Master! She was present as a key witness to Jesus’ death (Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40), burial (Matthew 27:61; Mark 15:47), and the empty tomb (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1–10).
On the first Easter morning, “Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark. She saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb” (John 20:1). Immediately, Mary turned and ran to inform the disciples. A few minutes later, after returning to Jesus’ borrowed tomb, “Mary stood outside the tomb, crying. As she was crying, she stooped to look into the tomb. She saw two angels in white sitting where Jesus’s body had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’ ‘Because they’ve taken away my Lord,’ she told them, ‘and I don’t know where they’ve put him’ ”(John 20:11-13).
Hearing a voice, Mary turned, pleading with the gardener, “Sir, if you’ve carried him away, tell me where you’ve put him, and I will take him away” (John 20:15). He replied, “Mary” (John 20:16). Immediately, Mary recognized the Master’s voice. That wasn’t the gardener! It was Jesus! Worshipfully, she fell at His feet, clutching and clinging to her Lord!
Why did Jesus reveal himself to a once-demon-possessed, sinful woman? Let me answer that question with another question… Why would Jesus die on Calvary’s cross to save a wretch like me? The answer… grace!