Few women in Scripture have been the subject of as much speculation and scrutiny as Mary Magdalene. And yet despite all this attention, popular culture still confuses her with the penitent “sinful woman” in Luke chapter 7. But rather than being remembered for repentance, contrition, and sinfulness, Mary should stand out in our minds as a model of fidelity.
Mary had good reason to be faithful to Jesus. He had driven seven demons out of her. This was most likely the beginning of her journey with him, and it set her on a path of discipleship, a path that led her to become one of the foremost women who followed him. As one of a group of women who supported Jesus financially, Mary was no mere camp follower. She believed enough in him that she was willing to back it up with her money and to leave behind a comfortable life in order to walk with him.
Imagine the miracles Mary must have witnessed and the excitement she must have felt on this journey. But it wasn’t all signs and wonders. It was a difficult path as well, a path that led her to the foot of the Cross, where she watched Jesus die in agony. Mourning and confused, Mary must have felt like a ship adrift in a storm. “What now?” she must have asked.
Here is where we see Mary’s fidelity and love most clearly. Rejecting the urge to run away and to distance herself from the other disciples, she was one of just a few people to stay with him as he was buried. She was one of the three women who risked arrest just to anoint his body. And in the end, her loyalty was rewarded: she was the first person in history to see the risen Lord.
Quite rightly does Mary Magdalene deserve the title “Apostle to the Apostles.” One of the greatest women mentioned in Scripture, her story is an example of how God rewards a grateful and faithful heart that pursues him no matter what the cost.