Did Mary Magdalene participate in the baptism of the followers of Jesus?

Mary Magdalene was a woman from whom Jesus cast out seven demons (Luke 8:2). The name Magdalene indicates that she came from Magdala, a city on the southwest coast of the Sea of Galilee. After Jesus cast seven demons from her, she became one of His followers.

Mary Magdalene has been associated with the "woman in the city who was a sinner" (Luke 7:37) who washed Jesus’ feet, but there is no scriptural basis for this. The city of Magdala did have a reputation for prostitution. This information, coupled with the fact that Luke first mentions Mary Magdalene immediately following his account of the sinful woman (Luke 7:36-50), has led some to equate the two women. But there is no scriptural evidence to support this idea. Mary Magdalene is nowhere identified as a prostitute or as a sinful woman, despite popular portrayals of her as such.

Mary Magdalene is also often associated with the woman whom Jesus saved from stoning after she had been taken in adultery (John 8:1-11). But again this is an association with no evidence. The movie “The Passion of the Christ” made this connection. This view is possible, but not likely and certainly not Biblical.

Mary Magdalene witnessed most of the events surrounding the crucifixion. She was present at the mock trial of Jesus; she heard Pontius Pilate pronounce the death sentence; and she saw Jesus beaten and humiliated by the crowd. She was one of the women who stood near Jesus during the crucifixion to try to comfort Him. The earliest witness to the resurrection of Jesus, she was sent by Jesus to tell the others (John 20:11-18). Although this is the last mention of her in the Bible, she was among the women who gathered with the apostles to await the promised coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14).

The fiction novel “The DaVinci Code” makes the claim that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. Some of the non-biblical early Christian writings (considered heresy by the early Christians) hint at a special relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus. However, there is no evidence whatsoever to support the belief that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. The Bible does not even hint at such an idea.

During the historical periods covered by the Bible, most societies were patriarchal, meaning men held exclusive power with the rare exception of a ruling queen. These power dynamics extended to every part of life, including religion, government, and family. Since the Bible mainly records historical events, such as the rise of the nation of Israel, and the acts of leaders such as prophets and priests and kings, the vast majority of people mentioned are men.

The number of women who are recorded in the Bible is unusual, given the male-dominated society in which the Bible was written. The inclusion of the stories of women, from Hannah, Ruth, Esther and Deborah in the Old Testament to Mary, Elizabeth and Priscilla in the New Testament, indicates that God values women more than society as a whole did. Of special note is the resurrection account. The disciples of Jesus, all male, were hiding in fear while the women went to the tomb, discovered it empty, met the risen Lord, and became the world’s first evangelists, but consistent with Jewish tradition they were disciples but NOT Apostles (Matthew 28).

During most of the world’s history, women played a smaller role than men, and that reality is accurately reflected in the Bible. The majority of kings and other leaders were men. Women were accustomed to being relegated to secondary roles. That’s part of why the woman at the well was shocked that Jesus spoke to her: “Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” John 4:9.

It wasn’t just that she was a Samaritan, but that she was a Samaritan woman that caused her to think Jesus would overlook her. But she was wrong; Jesus had come to seek and save all who were lost, women included. And, in Christ, men and women are absolutely equal (Galatians 3:28).

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© Tony - W.A.M