Mary Magdalene in the Bible: Character, Profile, and Lessons

by Crystal McDowell · Print Print · Email Email

Remember the childhood story of the Little Red Hen? No one wanted to help plant, harvest, ground, or bake the bread; yet everyone wanted to help her eat it!

So it is with those precious servants of Jesus Christ. They’re the first ones at the church and the last ones to leave, they help care for the crying babies to the elderly members, and they’re willing to pick up garbage within and outside of the church when no one else wants to be bothered. Mary Magdalene was one of the greatest servants of the Gospels to Jesus during His earthly ministry.

Mary’s Story

Mary Magdalene loved and served Jesus with a spirit of gratefulness. Before Jesus, she was possessed by seven demons. After her deliverance, Mary became one of Jesus’ most loyal followers throughout His ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension.

Mary cared for Jesus’ needs out of her own financial ability. She was with the group of women including Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary the mother of James. In spite of her past experiences (which we have no details), Mary was most likely accepted since the other women were also healed of sicknesses and delivered from evil spirits.

Mary never left Jesus through the ugliness and gore of the crucifixion. She stayed close as she could to the cross and afterwards waited to see exactly where they put His body. Mary was at the tomb right after dawn to anoint His body. Upon arriving at the tomb, the women were surprised to find Jesus’ body missing. As the other women went to the disciples, Mary stayed behind weeping. She mistook Jesus for a gardener and offered to carry His body by herself.

She recognized Jesus when He called her by name. Mary was so overjoyed that she didn’t want to let go of Him. Jesus told her to release Him and to immediately tell the disciples that He was alive. She obeyed even though they didn’t believe her report. After Jesus’ ascension, Mary was most likely in the upper room when the Holy Spirit came upon them.

What can we learn from Mary about a servant’s heart?

A servant still takes care of Jesus’ needs

“They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs” (Matthew 27:55).

Just as Mary took care of Jesus, we take care of Him when we minister to the body of Christ. Servants are willing to step up without having to be asked for their service. They anticipate other’s weaknesses and strive to show their love with action.

A servant stays around especially during the difficult days

“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene” (John 19:25).

Not everyone could stay around for the crucifixion. When there is tragedy, disappointment, sorrow, or injustice—the servant of the Lord is faithful to the body of believers throughout the storms of life. They know their presence speaks volumes even though they never say a word.

A servant can be easily dismissed

“But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense” (Luke 24:11).

Until Jesus showed up, women weren’t respected for their value to the kingdom of God. Servants are often overlooked because of the enormous size of their heart to help others as well as their lowly state in the eyes of society. Yet the servants of the Lord are exceptionally noticed and identified by the angels of heaven.

A servant receives great reward from heaven

“He appeared first to Mary Magdalene” (Mark 16:9).

Jesus could’ve appeared to any one of the disciples, yet He chose Mary. He honored her loyalty and faithfulness with His first appearance of the resurrection. Servants of God receive rewards both on this side of heaven and the next for it’s better to give than to receive in the kingdom of God.

A servant pays attention to the details

“Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid” (Mark 15:47).

“Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid” (Mark 15:47).

“Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid” (Mark 15:47).

Mary must’ve been spiritually, emotionally, and physically exhausted; however, she wasn’t going anywhere until she knew exactly where they laid Jesus’ body. The servants of God demonstrate this tenacity when it comes to their Lord. They’re perceptive and discerning about the church and its needs.

A servant has a willingness to serve beyond their capabilities

“They asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” (Matthew 16:3).

It was most unlikely that those few women had the physical strength to roll a large stone from the face of the tomb. Yet that impossibility didn’t deter them from their goal. Servants grow their faith in the Lord by not being afraid to trust Him through the impossibilities.

A servant knows the Lord’s voice

“Jesus said to her, ‘Mary’” (John 20:16).

Mary knew her Savior’s voice immediately. As servants of Christ Jesus, there’s immediate voice recognition because His sheep know His voice. The more they serve in the name of Christ, the clearer His calling on their lives.

Compelled by Gratefulness

Mary knew what it was like to be free from her bondage of demonic oppression. She responded with thankfulness in her actions for the Lord. Servants of Jesus Christ should do no less than this. And how do we serve? Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45). Let us go and do likewise.

Read about another lady in the Bible here:

Rahab in the Bible

Resource – New International Version Bible, The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblca, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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