Some Things I Learned this Easter from Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene was one of the eyewitnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As I reflected on her story (Luke 8:1-2; Matthew 27:55-56, 60-61; 28:1; Mark 16:1-5; Luke 24:1-11; John 20:2, 11-18) this Easter, I gleaned some insights into my life. First, her story.  

Mary Magdalene was a woman from the city of Magdala who had seven demons in her. She must have endured much torture, anguish, and turmoil as she housed these demons. I can imagine how painful it was to be an outcast of society and live a miserable life. But then she met Jesus. Jesus miraculously cast out the demons and healed her. He brought wholeness to her soul; undoubtedly her whole life changed. Out of a grateful heart, Mary Magdalene was among a group of women that tended to the needs of Jesus. She enjoyed the company of a group of men and women who were seeking the truth. She had the privilege and honor to observe Jesus first hand as He carried out God’s plan and as He interacted with people. 

After Mary Magdalene witnessed Jesus’ death, she saw where Joseph and Nicodemus laid Jesus’ body in a tomb. Returning to the tomb, on what was to become Easter morning, she and the other women discovered Jesus was no longer there. They ran back to tell the disciples. Mary Magdalene spoke for all the women and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid him.” The disciples did not believe them and John and Peter ran to the tomb to find out for themselves. After John and Peter left the tomb, Mary again arrives at the tomb. She looked in and saw two angels in white sitting at the foot and head of where Jesus had lain. Amazement, confusion, and sorrow overwhelmed Mary. One of the angels said, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Mary answered him, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Then she turned around and saw another man standing. She did not recognize who he was. Perhaps it was because of the tears in her eyes or for some reason God prevented her from recognizing who he was. The man said, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She thought he was the gardener so she said, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

Then the man said her name, “Mary.” When she heard Him say her name, she knew it was Jesus! He was alive; He had risen! Jesus was not dead! She turned to Jesus and said, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Joy and peace must have filled her heart as she clung to Jesus. Then Jesus told her not to cling to Him because He had not ascended to the Father yet. “Go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.’” She obeyed and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!”

Now here is where Mary Magdalene’s life impacted mine:

Mary Magdalene’s life was changed dramatically after she met Jesus. While I was in college, as an unbeliever, I wrote a projected 10-year plan for my life. I am so glad none of it happened! A fresh gratefulness filled my heart as I pondered Mary Magdalene’s life and asked myself some questions. How has my life changed since I met Jesus? What kind of life would I be living if it were not for Jesus? What is the significance of what Jesus accomplished on Easter for my life?

Mary Magdalene responded to Jesus’ healing by serving Him. In the past, I sometimes have found myself serving Jesus just because there was a need. I now am more intentional on asking Jesus how He wants me to be serving Him. How am I serving Jesus today? What is my motive for serving Him?

Mary Magdalene did not recognize Jesus at first. In the midst of life, I tend to get focused on the circumstances which leads to wrong thinking and wrong actions. A new hope arose in my heart as I reflected on Mary Magdalene’s unrecognition of Jesus and I pondered some questions. In what situation in my life do I need to recognize Jesus and turn to Him? What difference would looking to Jesus make in this situation and in my life? 

As you reflect on Easter this year, maybe Mary Magdalene’s life will give you a fresh perspective as it did me. 

PJ Beets is passionate about encouraging women and children through the Scriptures and life to see the compassionate God who redeems the rejected by acceptance, the silenced by expression, the labored by grace, and the lonely by love in order to set them free to serve in His ordained place and way for them individually and corporately. She has served the Lord through Bible Study Fellowship and her home church in various capacities with women and children. Upon turning fifty, she sought the Lord on how He would have her finish well which began her journey at Dallas Theological Seminary. She has a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies as well as a Doctor of Educational Ministry in Spiritual Formation, both from from DTS. PJ is married to Tom, has three children, and six grandchildren.