Mary Magdalene: From Seven Devils to the First Witness

Note: This is part of an ongoing series of posts about women in scripture.

One of the women who traveled with, and supported the Savior in his ministry was “Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils” (Luke 8:2).

I’m not exactly sure what it means to have seven devils inside you, but it can’t be good. While some have speculated that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, the scriptures do not tell us anything about her background. I have no idea how having seven devils affected Mary, and am certainly not insinuating that she had seven devils because she had done something wrong. In any case, it was a huge trial. Today, we could perhaps liken “Seven devils” to something like struggling with deep discouragement, serious sin, or other severe challenges.

This mosaic is in a chapel in Magdala that is dedicated to women. Note the seven devils coming out of Mary.

But Jesus Christ healed her, and she became an important part of his ministry. Mary Magdalene is mentioned more than most of the apostles; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all describe her presence at the crucifixion, and both Mark and John mention her more than they do Mary, the mother of Jesus. She is clearly a very important person in the New Testament.

Mary Magdalene “ministered to [Christ] of [her] substance” (Luke 8:3), meaning she offered him significant financial support. “Mary Magdalene…came up with him unto Jerusalem” from Galilee (Mark 15:40-41). She was likely present for many or all of the events of the last week of the Savior’s life. She certainly was at his crucifixion; John records, “There stood by the cross of Jesus…Mary Magdalene” (John 19:25).  

After the Savior died, “Mary Magdalene…was sitting over against the sepulcher” watching his burial (Matthew 27:61). Once the Sabbath was over, “as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene” came to the tomb (Matthew 28:1). “Mary Magdalene” and other women who were with her “found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.” She saw the angels who said, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:2-6).

It was “Mary Magdalene” who ran and came to Peter and John “and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him” (John 20:2-3).

After Peter and John saw the empty tomb, they left – but Mary remained. She alone “stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain” (John 20:11-12).

After speaking with the angels, Mary “saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus…Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master” (John 20:14, 16). 

“Mary Magdalene” was the one who “told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her” (John 20:18). Do we emphasize enough that Mary Magdalene was the first person to testify to the apostles of the risen Lord?

Think of it! Mary went from being possessed by seven devils to becoming the first witness of the resurrection! If she can experience such a dramatic difference, there is hope for us. I love Mary Magdalene. She went through incredibly dark times but didn’t give up. We can follow her powerful example.

Image result for mary mother of jesus and mary magdalene son of god movie
Mary Magdalene, portrayed in the movie, “The Son of God”