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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

05 September 2005

Mary Magdalene

Q: I am not a Christian, but some of my Christian friends tell me I am like Mary Magdalene. Yet I hear also that she was a prostitute. I am not like this, so would you please tell me more what Christians believe about Mary Magdalene?

Mary Magdalene
A: First of all, since you are “not a Christian,” I wonder how your friends find similarity between you and her. She was one of Jesus’ most faithful followers and the Bible shows how was used by Him for some very special purposes, as my reply will show.

The Bible doesn’t say that Mary from Magdala (a town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee) was a prostitute, although it does refer to seven demons being driven from her. She was one who truly knew what it meant to be forgiven and healed by Jesus. Since Jesus at was recorded as having forgiven an adulterous woman and at other times also helped others considered to be of loose morals, it may be that people made assumptions that Mary was the woman taken in adultery.

It’s possible that she was that woman, but the Bible doesn’t say so. And since Luke paid attention to such details and says nothing about it (Luke 8:2), I tend to doubt the story. Mary was also the first person to witness Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead (cf. all four Gospels, especially Mark 16 and John 20) so this alone gives her special standing among Christians.

I hope that you study more about Christianity and Jesus and learn to love him as Mary did — in response to his love for you. You can find a bit about how her name became associated with tearful behavior from this post at Aardvark Alley.

Send email to Ask the Pastor.

Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.


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