GFN Spirituality Joseph D'Emanuele  

Mary Magdalene in the Gospels: Witness to Resurrection

Mary Magdalene’s presence in the Gospels holds significant importance as she emerges as a prominent figure closely associated with Jesus Christ. This short blog entry examines the portrayal of Mary Magdalene in the Gospels, exploring her role as a devoted follower and witness to the resurrection of Jesus.  At the end, we will see how this applies to us today.

Andrea Solari, “St. Mary Magdalene,” ca. 1524 (photo: Public Domain)

Here is a list of references in the Bible for Mary Magdalene:

  • Matthew 27, 56. 61: Mentions Mary Magdalene among the women who witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion and burial.
  • Matthew 28, 1: Mary Magdalene is present at the tomb on the day of Jesus’ resurrection.
  • Mark 15, 40, 47: Mary Magdalene is listed as one of the women who observed Jesus’ crucifixion and burial.
  • Mark 16, 1. 9. 10: Mary Magdalene is mentioned as one of the women who went to the tomb and encountered the risen Jesus.
  • Luke 8, 2: Describes Mary Magdalene as one from whom Jesus had cast out seven demons and who travelled with Him and the Twelve.
  • Luke 24, 10: Mary Magdalene is listed among the women who reported the empty tomb and the angelic announcement of Jesus’ resurrection to the apostles.
  • John 19, 25: Mary Magdalene is identified as one of the women present at the foot of the cross during Jesus’ crucifixion.
  • John 20, 1-18: This passage extensively describes Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the risen Jesus at the tomb and her subsequent interaction with the disciples.

These are the main references to Mary Magdalene in the Bible. Her presence and actions are primarily found in the accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, with a particular emphasis on her role as a witness to the resurrection.

Faithful Discipleship

The Gospels portray Mary Magdalene as one of Jesus’ most loyal disciples. She is mentioned by name in all four canonical Gospels, emphasizing her significance within the early Christian community. Luke 8, 2 mentions that Jesus had cured Mary of seven demons, indicating a transformative experience that deepened her commitment to him.

Crucifixion and Burial

The Gospels consistently place Mary Magdalene at the crucifixion scene, standing alongside other female followers of Jesus, demonstrating her unwavering devotion. Matthew 27, 61 notes that Mary Magdalene and another Mary were present when Joseph of Arimathea laid Jesus’ body in the tomb. This highlights her role in witnessing the burial and ensuring the location of Jesus’ tomb was known.

The Resurrection Witness

Mary Magdalene’s most notable role in the Gospels is as the first witness to Jesus’ resurrection. In all four Gospels, she is depicted as visiting the tomb early on the first day of the week. In John 20:11-18, Mary encounters the risen Christ outside the tomb, initially mistaking him for the gardener. Recognizing Jesus, she becomes the first person to bear witness to his resurrection, and he instructs her to inform the disciples.

Mary Magdalene’s pivotal role as the bearer of the resurrection message has led her to be referred to as the “apostle to the apostles.” The Gospel of John portrays Jesus specifically instructing her to announce his resurrection to the disciples. This designation acknowledges her as a significant figure in the early spread of Christianity and her authority in proclaiming the Good News. See St. Mary Magdalene Is ‘Apostle to the Apostles’ and ‘Witness of Divine Mercy’| National Catholic Register ( for a comprehensive article about this subject.

Mary Magdalene’s role as a witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ holds a profound parallel to our spiritual lives, offering insights and inspiration for our personal journeys of faith. The parallelism can be observed in several aspects:

Encounter with the Risen Christ: Just as Mary Magdalene encountered the risen Christ at the empty tomb, our spiritual lives are marked by such situations, where Jesus is ‘lost’.  However, this absence does not mean that He is absent but he is not where we are expecting him to be! Through faith, we experience a personal encounter with the resurrected Christ, which transforms our lives and deepens our relationship with Him.

Bearing Witness: Mary Magdalene was entrusted with the task of bearing witness to the resurrection and proclaiming the good news to the disciples. In our spiritual lives, we are also called to bear witness to the transformative power of Christ’s resurrection. Our personal experiences of His grace, mercy, and love become a testimony that can inspire and encourage others in their faith journeys.

Devotion and Commitment: Mary Magdalene’s unwavering devotion and commitment to Jesus throughout His ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection serve as a model for our own spiritual lives. Just as she remained faithful and dedicated, we are called to nurture a deep sense of devotion and commitment to Christ, seeking to follow Him wholeheartedly in all aspects of our lives.

Redemption and Transformation: Mary Magdalene’s story is a powerful testament to the redemption and transformation available through Christ. Her past as a person afflicted by seven demons and her subsequent transformation into a faithful disciple illustrate the transformative power of Christ’s love and grace. Similarly, in our spiritual lives, we are invited to embrace the redemptive power of Christ, allowing Him to transform our hearts and lives, enabling us to grow in holiness and become more like Him.

Proclaiming the Good News: Just as Mary Magdalene proclaimed the good news of the resurrection, we are called to share the message of Christ’s victory over sin and death. Our spiritual lives are not meant to be kept in isolation but rather shared with others, as we actively engage in spreading the Gospel and bringing others closer to Christ.


The portrayal of Mary Magdalene in the Gospels highlights her profound devotion to Jesus Christ and her pivotal role as a witness to his resurrection. As a faithful disciple, she stood by Jesus in his crucifixion, witnessed his burial, and became the first to encounter the risen Christ. Her status as the “apostle to the apostles” underscores her importance in the early Christian community. The Gospels present Mary Magdalene as a model of steadfast faith, inspiring believers throughout history to recognize the transformative power of encountering Christ and boldly proclaiming the message of his resurrection.