Pioneer Women - Part 2 - Mary Magdalene
This is a series on women with a pioneering spirit taken from the Bible and history.
While I reflected on what exactly a pioneering spirit is, I kept returning to Proverbs 31. I realised that if we, as women in the Body of Christ, are able to take a hold of and begin to live out Proverbs 31 daily then we would all make a greater impact on our environment and begin to see a change in our history for the glory of Jesus. Thus becoming pioneering women in our own right.
Proverbs 31 : 10 – 31 is our blueprint for this series, perhaps you would like to look at the text in your Bible before you read further.
The word pioneer means to prepare or open up ( a way, road etc), initiate, originate, lead the way or innovate in, lead, guide ( a person). To be a pioneer you would be likened to a member of an infantry group going with or ahead of an army or regiment to prepare the roads or terrain for the main body of troops. This is the example that highlights exactly what we are to be doing in our purpose as a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist was a pioneer for Christ; he spent his whole life preparing the way for the One whom John was not even fit to carry his sandals. Throughout the Bible you find countless men and women who have prepared the way for God’s children, encouraging us to look beyond ourselves and the temporal to looking into the heavenlies and the eternal. So that we would come face to face with His destiny and purpose for us. All of us, as disciples, are pioneers. Some more so than others because they have counted the cost and not loved their lives unto death and accepted that they are crucified with Him, it is now no longer them thatliveth but Him that liveth in them.
My prayer is that this series will stretch and challenge you into becoming a pioneer for Christ. This is not something that is a way off in the distance out of your reach; this is something that you are able to do every day within your own home. If you are a wife and mother then you are pioneering the way in those areas for your husband and children. If you are single then you have the opportunity, like Paul before you, to go out and pioneer in your work place or ministry or the place that God has called you to. I am not saying as a wife and mother that pioneering stops in your home, what I am saying is that it does begin there, for the Proverbs 31 woman has already shown her priorities are God first, then her husband and then her children. When these priorities are balanced and in order then she goes out into the community and helps the poor, and increases her family’s resources through wise investments. To many this woman seems out of reach, yet you fail to realise she had a key to being a successful pioneer, the key is that she feared and reverenced the Lord above all else and through this her relationships and responsibilities were wisely balanced.
Now let us begin on the road to being a pioneering woman:
Mary lived in a place called Magdala ( now called Migdal, located south of the Plain of Gennesaret on the shores of the Sea of Galilee), a very important agricultural, fishing and trade centre.
They have said she was to have been a prostitute although there is no textual evidence for this prostitution on her part. She was a woman who was greatly tormented and one who was hungry for truth as she had obviously been living a lie for most of her life. She was so tormented that her first meeting with Jesus, face to face, was one in which she had seven evil demonic spirits that had ruled and ruined her life, cast out of her by Him as mentioned in:
Luke 8: 1-2:
Soon afterward, [Jesus] went on through towns and villages, preaching and bringing the good news (the Gospel) of the kingdom of God. And the Twelve [apostles] were with Him,
2 And also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had been expelled;
After her miraculous deliverance and healing Mary became one of Jesus' most faithful and devoted followers. Unflappable in her faithfulness, she was counted among the small group of women who, at their own expense, served Jesus and His disciples as they preached and ministered to the masses.
'Her faith didn't run from her'
Mary became an important leader among the ministering women. You will find that the Scriptures mention her fouteen times. She proved herself to be a passionate follower who gave her time, energy and wealth to the Lord's work. She faithfully followed Jesus throughout His time in ministry on earth. Even at Gethsemane when nearly everyone else fled with fear after Jesus' arrest. Mary lingered lovingly all the way to the cross and witnessed His painful and excruciating death. She gathered with a few other women at that time, amongst whom was Jesus' mother. It was there that you could see her strength even though, at the time, she was grieving deeply herself. She comforted Mary and the others and gave them the hope that she had within her. I am of the belief that she indeed felt deep within her that this was not the end. Her faith didn't run from her at the last breath of the Lord, if anything it increased as she decided in her heart to stay and wait, long after the others had given up hope, to ensure that He was taken down and placed within the tomb for that perfect holy time of His resurrection.
Mark 15:47: And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid.
She came early on the morning after the Jewish Sabbath ended; she crept through the predawn darkness to the tomb, in her arms she carried the customary spices to prepare the Lord's body for burial. She was alone in her grief even though two other women accompanied her. When they arrived and found the tomb wth the stone rolled away they feared that thieves had come and desecrated His resting place. When they entered they found an angel who told them to not fear as Jesus had risen. The angel asked them to go and tell the others the good news. They ran out from the tomb trembling and full of fear.
'He showed Himself to her first'
It was then, as they were running, that Mary Magdalene literally ran into her Lord. She was weeping and could not see who was speaking to her. It was then that she realised that the One Who stood before her was Jesus.
The Lord had decided to richly reward her for her faithfulness by appearing to her first and thus making her not only the first woman but also the very first person to share the Gospel. He chose a plain, ordinary woman; one who He knew would obey. It is here that you see, through God's incredible grace, a pioneer woman. A woman who remainded steadfast and faithful, serving in love, abounding in compassion and ready to go wherever He went, ministering to Him as He ministered to the lost and needy. A woman who to this day is remembered as being the one Whom He loved dearly, so dearly that He showed Himself to her first. What a privilege., what a joy!
Mary was the first Evangelist
'I have seen the Lord!' she shouted with unequal enthusiasm to the small band of bewildered and unbelieving disciples.
Mark 16:11: 11 And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.
Mary Magalene's devoted faithfulness to Jesus and her announcement of Christ's victory over death shouts to women everywhere how an encounter with Christ changes lives forever. Mary was the first Evangelist. Something not many wished to acknowledge both then and even today but this is the truth and is clearly written in the Bible to encourage women everywhere that our Lord will use us just as much as He will use men to bring forth His amazing Gospel.
Free to become the pioneering woman she was meant to be.
My prayer is that her story has spoken to you, that she has shown you another way, a way that can be made only as you decide to die to self and take up your cross and follow Him into all He has for you.
Indeed what an awesome destiny it is!
Excerpts from the New King James Woman's Study Bible'
Don't miss out on Part 3 where we will continue with a pioneer woman of recent times. Her name is Hannah Hurnard, the author of 'Hinds Feet on High Places'.