From Demoniac to Disciple.

The Lord’s right-hand woman


Have you ever come across the famous painting of the last supper by Italian artist, Leonardo Da Vinci? If you have, you may have noticed a feminine looking character sitting on the left hand of Jesus. You probably haven’t but that it’s alright because this post is going to talk about what you didn’t see in the painting, which is a feminine looking character which some people believe to be Mary Magdalene. My work is not to justify whether or not this assertion is true or otherwise. On the contrary, my work is to study the character of Mary Magdalene and her ministry during Jesus’s days on earth.

Mary Magdalene or Mary of Magdala was the most prominent female follower of Jesus Christ. Born in Magdala in Judea, she was a Jewish woman and had been recorded to have seen both the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Magdala means “tower” or “castle,” and in the time of Christ was a thriving, populous town on the coast of Galilee about three miles from Capernaum. Dye works and primitive textile factories added to the wealth of the community. It may be that “The Magdalene” was connected with the industry of the town for it would seem as if she was not without means, enabling her to “serve the Lord with her substance”.
Before we study Mary Magdalene’s life and character, I deem it necessary to dissociate and liberate our minds from those who connect her with prostitution or being a harlot. Although Mary was a woman of high standing and comfortable circumstances, she suffered from the malady of periodic insanity from the demons that possessed her very being and not harlotry. We are not privy to a lot of background information about Mary Magdalene, thus before she met Christ. Her life and story and ministry began after she met Christ up until the resurrection of Christ.

Luke 8:2-3 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,
And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.

Mary was the only woman who’s number of demons were mentioned. It stands to reason that amongst the women that Jesus healed of the evil spirits, Mary was the most troubled. However, the very the moment Jesus’ compassionate eyes locked the wild-eyed and cringing woman of Magdala, He saw in her what no other person saw; the minister who would be a blessing to His own ministry and to others.
There was therefore the need for this woman to be set loosed from her bondage. In His authoritative voice and with all power, He commanded the tormenting demons to come out and stay out of her. The demons couldn’t do much but to obey and succumb. Her deranged and nerve-racked mind became as tranquil as the troubled lake Jesus calmed. Sanity returned, the rosy tint was restored to her cheeks, and she was made whole. Now, “clothed and in her right mind, in dignity and strength”, she was ready to become one of the most devoted woman disciples of Him to whom she owed so much, her freedom, breakthrough, dignity, sanity and even her life! And this is how Mary of Magdala transitioned from being demon possessed to being a disciple of Christ.
Lessons or Nuggets from this Character.
1. Women matter in ministry:
If there’s only one lesson to pick from the character of Mary Magdalene, it will be that women play a pivotal role in ministry. Women cannot be sidestepped in the five fold ministry and many others. I say this for two main reasons.
First, following the story of this woman, we realise that she followed Jesus right from the moment of her sanity till his death and resurrection.

And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.

Mary became a disciple. Freed from demonic shackles, she became the right hand woman of the Lord, his personal person, his body body, his hommie! Her personal ministrations, along with those of other women who had been healed, greatly aided Jesus in His missionary activities as He travelled from place to place preaching and teaching His message. Grateful, these women became generous, ministering unto Him of their substance.
Mary left her home in Magdala to follow Jesus. Constantly on the move as Jesus and His disciples were, there were many details in connection with their personal comfort and well-being requiring attention to which these women could see. Quietly and effectively Mary would do what she knew needed to be done. Further, money was necessary for the Master’s campaign work. We never read of Him or His disciples asking for money, yet funds were necessary. Much of it came from Mary and other women like her who had been so richly blessed of the Lord.
Now it was time for Christ to be crucified. Mary went with her Lord into the shadows of death not forsaking Him at that darkest moment of His ministry, not thinking of what was going to be left of her after her Lord and Saviour was gone. She followed Jesus on His last sad journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, not as the preacher or teacher she knew him to be, but as one going to die a shameful death befitting of criminals and murderers. And as they followed, they still “ministered unto Him.” Mary was present with the other holy women at the mock trial of Jesus. Mary was present in Pilate’s Hall and saw and heard the religious leaders yearning for the blood of Him who was so precious and dear to her heart, the darling of Heaven. She listened as Pontius Pilate pronounced His death sentence of crucifixion although he had found no fault in Him. She witnessed and wept as Jesus left the hall to be spat upon and ill-treated by the crowd thirsting for His blood. Then she saw Him led out to Calvary’s fatal mount to be nailed to a tree.

Matthew 27:55-56 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:
Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.

Every time Mary Magdalene’s name was mentioned with the rest of the women, her name appeared first. This shows that her service and ministry couldn’t be overemphasised, and that she may have even been the leader of the rest of them that followed Jesus.
Secondly, after the crucifixion and all the drama that accompanied it, guess who was at the tomb early on the third day to go and anoint the body of Jesus.

John 20:1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

After Mary Magdalene got to the sepulchre and saw that Christ was no where to be found, she rushed and informed Simon Peter and John about what she had witnessed. They followed her to the grave and they also, seeing that Christ was nowhere to be found left. But Mary Magdalene stayed back, and sat at the entrance of the tomb, wailing!

John 20:11-18 But Mary 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.
And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.
And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
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.
Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

Did you get the point. In case you missed it, shall I help to make it out! Mary Magdalene was the first person, human being, born of man and woman, to behold Christ after He had resurrected. In other words, Christ revealed himself to a woman! Even before He ascended into the heavens. Now is there still a believer who thinks women have no importance and relevance in ministry? In my Jhs, there was this teacher of mine of a certain Christian denomination that had a very big problem with my mother being a Reverend minister and heading a church. Every time he would ask me, “why there aren’t any men in the church or what? And he would go on a rant about how it’s biblically wrong for a woman to be a minister in the house of God and lead men”.

“If the resurrected Savior used women to proclaim to the male disciples that He was alive, we should also make full room for women in the proclamation of the eternal gospel.” (Rodriguez, Angel – Biblical Research Institute)

2. God can rewrite your past, such that your present and your future, will not make sense to many.
Ever heard of the assertion by some one Christians that Mary Magdalene was the wife or Girlfriend of Jesus? In fact some so called Christians believe that Jesus married or was in some kind of amorous relationship with Mary of Magdala. Funny right? People couldn’t just believe that this woman, possessed with seven demons can be cleaned and even serve the Lord Himself. It was just unbelievable so that they had to cook up stories that made sense to their canal mind and human logic. But guess what my dear, God does not need to consult anyone before He does what needs to be done. He takes the foolishness of this world to confound the wise.
3. Loyalty:
The loyalty that Mary Magdalene showed towards Jesus was really like the vows shared at weddings, in good times, and in bad times, till death do us part. In the introductory part of this post, I mentioned a painting by Leonardo Da Vinci of the Last Supper which depicts a feminine looking character sitting on the  hand side of Jesus. As to whether this feminine character is indeed Mary Magdalene, I do not know.

All I do know is that Mary of Magdala, together with a few others were present before, during and after the last supper. But inasmuch as we cannot conclude whether or not Mary Magdalene was indeed sitting by Jesus at the last supper, I am made to believe one thing though, which is the artist wanted to capture Mary’s loyalty and closeness to Jesus in a humorous and an unassuming way. Mary’s loyalty to Jesus, was till His death. While some male disciples like Peter actually denied having any association with Christ during his trial and tribulation, Mary followed Jesus all throughout that period. After the burial, the 12 disciples hid themselves for fear of being persecuted. Yet still, Mary went to tomb, and I want to believe she had been there the previous day to anoint the body with some spices and oil. Now, if Mary Magdalene hid herself like any of the others, she would have missed out on the opportunity to be the first person to whom Christ revealed Himself to after His resurrection.
My dear Phenomenal Woman, every thing you have purported to do for Christ, in whatever ministry you find yourself, may you receive the grace that was upon Mary Magdalene to go to the extreme for His cause. And in doing that, Christ will definitely have your attention, reveal himself to you in whatever kind of way, and be a blessing to many more generations to come.
We all, myself included, need the Mary of Magdala anointing and grace, may God be our helper!



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