Mary Magdalene – Lessons from a Servant’s Heart

By Carol Becker

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Who was Mary Magdalene? We do not know much about her past. Luke 8:2 does mention Jesus had healed her from evil spirits and infirmities, but that is about all we know. What we do know is that was her past; it was her old life. It did not look anything like her new life in Christ. Once she believed on Jesus her past no longer dictated her future. Thankfulness now filled her heart, and Mary desired to serve the Lord. She served her Lord because of her love for Him. We can learn some important truths from Mary’s heart of service.

1. A servant anticipates needs.

Matthew 27:55-56 lists Mary Magdalene as one of the ladies who followed Jesus from Galilee to minister to his needs. They were ready to meet a need as soon as it appeared. Instead of being asked to help, a servant anticipates and meets the needs of others.

2. A servant is faithful even through the hard times.

Mary Magdalene was one of the few that remained at the cross when Jesus was crucified. (John 19:25) A servant is present even in the midst of tragedy, betrayal, and disappointments. A servant stays even when others have jumped ship. They remain faithful helpers, and even their presence is an encouragement to those in need.

3. A servant has a willingness to serve beyond their perceived abilities.

In Matthew 16:3 we see Mary Magdalene and two other women going to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body, and they are questioning how they will roll the stone away from the grave. The massive size of the rock and their limited strength did not deter them from their desire and determination to minister to Jesus. A servant realizes that a task can never be accomplished through their abilities alone, but instead through the power of Christ working through them. Because of this truth, a servant is willing to step out of their comfort zone to serve as they grow their faith and trust God through the impossibilities. They find that with God all things are possible.

4. A servant continues to serve without recognition.

When Mary Magdalene returns to tell the disciples that Jesus’ body was no longer in the grave they dismissed her. (Luke 24:11) However, even though the disciples dismissed Mary and they failed to recognize her news, she still went back to the tomb to see what she could do. A servant doesn’t rely on the recognition of others. Their service is from a heart of love and not dependent on praise and adulation.

5. A servant knows the voice of the Lord.

John 20:16 is the story of Mary returning to the garden after telling the disciples about the message from the angel and Jesus’ body missing from the grave. She has an encounter with a man she assumed was the garden caretaker. When the man spoke her name, Mary, she knew it was her Lord. How did she recognize Jesus when He spoke her name? She had lived her life loving and serving Him. A servant knows when the Lord is calling them to a task, and the more they serve in the name of Christ, the clearer His calling on their lives.

6. A servant has great reward.

“…He appeared first to Mary Magdalene…” (Mark 16:9) Jesus could have chosen any number of his followers to be the first to show Himself to after His resurrection, but he chose Mary Magdalene. He chose to honor her love, loyalty, and faithfulness. Colossians 3:23-24 says, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” God rewards those who serve with a heart of love for Christ and others.

Like Mary Magdalene, we too should be overwhelmed with thankfulness and love for all that Christ has done for us. Our natural response should be a heart’s desire to serve Him through devotion to Him and caring for others. Following Christ’s own example of serving others, we can grow and cultivate a heart of service in our own lives.

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