Mary of Magdala Meets the Risen Christ, Mark 16:9-13
Mark 16:9, Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
Sabbath had ended some 12 hours prior to the women coming to the tomb so Jesus had risen very early in that time period.
Exactly how long the tomb was empty when the women arrived we do not know.
But Jesus gave to Mary Magdalene the privilege and honor of being the first to see the risen Christ.
Mary had dedicated herself and served her Lord since he had cast out of her seven devils.
She was the woman who had come to the tomb while it was yet dark.
John reports this first post resurrection meeting in John 20:15-17: where Mary is reported as weeping.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
So Mary was the first sent witness of the good news of the resurrected Christ.
There are several Marys mentioned in the scriptures but this Mary is distinguished from all others of the same name by having attached to her name her place of birth, Magdala.
Magdala means tower or castle and in the time of Christ was a thriving well populated town on the coast of the Sea of Galilee about three miles from Capernaum.
Its industry was in the dye and textile works.
There is nothing in the Bible speaking of her family connections, her marital status, or even her age.
But she was free enough of these things to follow Jesus for a major part of his ministry.
There is no evidence to the common understanding that Mary of Magdala had an unsavory reputation having been engaged in immoral activity.
This reputation was enhanced early in the church age by the establishment of Magdalen Houses for the rescue and maintenance of fallen women.
Great art works also present her in this fashion so it is very common to connect this reputation with this Mary.
But the Bible simply depicts Mary as a deeply afflicted woman before she met Jesus.
We are told she was rescued from seven devils or demons which many think indicates that she was afflicted by periods of insanity.
Seven of course indicates
completeness implying that when the evil spirits dominated Mary the suffering
was most severe.
When Jesus first found her she could have appeared to him as the female version of the demoniac of Gadara.
Her demonic possession did not guarantee an effect on her morals or character but could have only deranged her mental faculties.
If there was a weakness in Mary making it easy for demons to enter her, we are not told.
And therefore we are not given anything with which to judge her as a woman of immoral character.
This Mary is mentioned fourteen times in the Gospels and in eight of these mentions it is with other women and she always heads the listing of their names.
She no doubt occupied a prominent place of service to the Lord of the godly women who followed Jesus.
In the five times she is mentioned alone, it is connected with the death and resurrection of Christ.
She is presented in scripture as the women who was most utterly devoted to her Master.
And that utter devotion stems from what Christ had done for her for Mark connects to her name in our Mark passage that she was the one, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
Now if Mary had been at this time similar in torment as was the demoniac of Gadara she would have appeared to Jesus as a wild eyed cringing fearful women in Magdala.
But Jesus looked upon her with compassionate eyes and took those demons from her by his commanding words, casting them out forever.
No doubt her deranged and nerve racked mind became a mind of peace and calm for sanity returned to Mary and she was made whole.
Mary is not unique in that, for when Jesus comes into your life he will indeed make you whole.
So in making her complete she now had a mind to follow Jesus for that is what right minds do and she therefore became one, if not the most devoted follower of Jesus owing him her very existence.
Mary of Magdala was one of the sorrowing group of dedicated women who stood near to the cross of Christ comforting, by their presence, their Master as he approached his hour of death.
There is a painting in the Louvre of Paris, a painting of desolation, despair, and love, for the artist has depicted the night of the crucifixion.
It is described in this manner:
The world is wrapped in shadow; the stars are dead; and yet in the darkness is seen a kneeling form. It is Mary Magdalene with loving lips and hands pressing against the bleeding feet of Christ.
Yes she, faithful Mary of Magdala, was there when they crucified her Lord.
Another poet reminds us of that event this way:
Not she with traitorous kiss her Master stung,
Not she denied Him with unfaithful tongue;
She, when Apostles fled, could dangers brave,
Last at the Cross, and earliest at the grave.
So God honored this faithful Mary with the first meeting of the risen Christ.
And therefore she was the first witness to tell of the Resurrection.
She was honored to be the first but following her meeting with Christ we find no lack of witnesses to Jesus Christís appearance after his death who verify that he did indeed rise from the dead.
Ten different appearances of the risen Christ are recorded in the New Testament.
John and Mark report of his appearance to Mary Magdalene at the sepulcher.
Matthew reports that He appeared to certain women, the other Mary (mar-ee'-ah) Salome, Joanna (ee-o-an'-nah) and others as they returned from their early morning visit to the Sepulcher.
According to Luke and Paul in I Corinthians He appeared to Simon Peter alone on the day of the resurrection.
He then revealed himself to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus in the afternoon of the resurrection day which is recorded fully by Luke and referred to by Mark.
That evening of the resurrection day, John reports that He appeared to the ten disciples at Jerusalem, Thomas being absent from them which resulted in him forever being referred to as Doubting Thomas.
Eight days later Mark, Luke and John report His appearance to the disciples who were again assembled, this time Thomas being present and this time not doubting.
John is the only writer who records his visit to the disciples when they were fishing at the Sea of Galilee.
From Matthew and I Corinthians we learn that he appeared again to the eleven disciples and to over 500 brethren at once, at an appointed place in Galilee.
Paul, in I Corinthians reports his appearing to James without providing any details of that appearance.
And then before he ascended to the Father he appeared to all the apostles.
They accompanied him from Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives, and there they saw him ascend "till a cloud received him out of their sight"
There is abundant and overwhelming proof that he appeared bodily and was not a spirit for we are told that the disciples talked with him face to face, they touched him and they even ate bread with him.
The Apostle Paul adds to this proof by his report of meeting with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus.
The number of witnesses establish without doubt the veracity of Christís resurrection and could not be challenged in any court of law.
Two of those witnesses who would testify regarding the resurrection are mentioned here in Mark 16:12 and 13.
Mark 16:12,13, After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.
These are two men who left Jerusalem that day, chosen of God to become witnesses of the living Christ, the Christ who was dead but is now alive.
From the details given in Luke 24 I think we can conclude that their witness took place on the day, most likely in the afternoon, of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Reading Luke 24:13-24 will give us better understanding of this witness:
And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs (7.5 miles). 14And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. 17And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? 18And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? 19And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 20And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. 21But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. 22Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; 23And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. 24And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.