Mary Magdalene gets a bad RAP!



My wife and I recently saw RISEN the movie. The acting was good, the sets were believable, and the story compelling. However, I have three grievances with the accounts portrayed (listed below in order least to greatest).  !!Spoiler Alert!!

  • When Christ ascended into heaven, after giving His apostles the great commission, it was portrayed as a blast off akin to a ballistic missile’s.
  • It is unlikely that Pontius Pilot and the Tribune were uninformed about Jesus. 
    • Jerusalem was not geographically large city.  It still isn’t.
    • To insure Pax Romana (Roman peace via iron law) they kept a tight grip on Jerusalem.
      • A legion was assigned to the area and Rome’s tax collectors and spies were abundant. Rome had a more than sufficient information gathering network in place.
        • Passover was a time rife with potential problems as the city swelled with visitors and Jewish national pride was high. Roman troops would be on elevated alert.
        • On the Sunday before Jesus’ crucifixion (Palm Sunday) He entered the city to a huge crowd proclaiming His greatness.
    • Jesus of Nazareth was known to those in power. King Herod knew of Him and had wanted to meet Him “for a long time”.
    • Jesus and His activities were common knowledge.
      • This is evidenced by the surprise of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They were shocked that someone would not know what had happened in Jerusalem.

And the one that bothers me the most: Mary Magdalene got a bad RAP.

In my line of work, “RAP” is an acronym for: Record of Arrest and Prosecution. A “RAP sheet” is the documented history of a person’s arrests and the following decisions a court has made regarding them. A repeat offender of the law is often referenced as having “a RAP sheet a mile long”.

Mary the Magdalene was a Jewish woman hailing from the bustling seaport of Magdala.  She is called “Magdalene” as Jesus was called “Nazarene”. He was known to come from Nazareth.

In the movie Risen, it is heavily inferred that she was a prostitute well known by many of the Roman soldiers.

As far as I have found, tagging Mary Magdalene as a prostitute goes back to the Jewish Talmud (which portrayed her in a negative light) and a 591 AD sermon of Pope Gregory the Great. In it, Mary Magdalene was identified as the immoral woman in the book of Luke.  (In truth there is no strong evidence that the “immorality” referred to was prostitution. There are many types of immorality.)  This inference was further promoted in the 18th century when “Magdalene” houses or asylums were opened for wayward women to find shelter and rehabilitation.

I am not Pope-bashing. I assume he held her in high esteem as a faithful, devoted servant of Jesus Christ. A sinner saved. And the Magdalene houses used her name only as an aspiration for women in their care. The Talmud, being a Jewish tome not proclaiming Jesus Christ the Messiah, logically would not speak kindly of Him or His disciples.

However scripture does not speak of her in a derogatory manner.  Mary Magdalene appears in the following scriptures Matthew 27:56 and 61, Matthew 28:1, Mark 15:40 and 47, Mark 16:1-9, Luke 8:2, Luke 24:10, John 19:25 and John 20:1-18.

The only description of her in any negative way lies in Luke 8:2. Which states “seven demons had gone out” of her by Jesus’ command.  Presuming that this made her a prostitute in turn suggests the demoniac must have been a male prostitute. After all a “legion” of demons was exorcised from him. I have never heard that implied though.

The other scriptures portray Mary Magdalene as faithful and devoted, desiring to be a follower and disciple of Jesus Christ. This interestingly is the one understandable commonality between her and the demoniac.

Call me old fashioned but, you don’t name a woman “whore” unless you have proof. Even then you don’t defame her. Christians are supposed to edify our fellow humans toward the Lord not vilify them to others.

There is no evidence to support Mary Magdalene being a prostitute. She doesn’t deserve the bad RAP she has been given. Even if she had been, her RAP sheet doesn’t exist. Any criminal history she had, has been cleared by our Lord and Savior.


It Crouched at Dylann Roof’s Door

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8

Emanuel-ame- church
Steeple of Emanuel -ame-church

Eight Christians were slain at a bible study inside the historic Emanuel-AME-Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Another died later of injuries at a hospital. One hate-filled, young man shot them and fled the scene. He was arrested later.

Having worked many shootings I can visualize the crime scene investigation in the church.

  • Investigators meticulously comb over the scene looking for physical evidence of exactly what happened.
  •  Measurements, photographs, perhaps videos, will be taken.
  • Bullet trajectories will be calculated and recorded. Bullets and bullet fragments will be marked and gathered.
  • DNA and fingerprint evidence will be collected for laboratory analysis and matching to the victims and suspect.
  • Physical evidence will be gathered to explain what happened in that church.

A young woman (@DeannaFarley_) tweeted “Disgusted with the evil in this world. It’s sad that innocent people can’t even feel safe in church. #PrayForCharleston.” She was correct. It is sad. We cannot feel safe in church.  We should not feel “safe” anywhere in this world.

I responded with a paraphrase of Jesus’ words recorded in John 17:12. I hope my tweet brought her some ease. The Word always does for me.

None of us is safe in this world because of hate. When Christ, God in the flesh, walked among us He kept his faithful safe. He went away promising to return. Hatred followed them the rest of their days. His faithful will not be safe from earthly harm until the day He comes back.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said, “The only reason someone would walk into church and shoot people praying is hate.” I don’t know the mind of the suspect or if hatred of the victims’ ethnicity or their faith filled his heart. The mayor was correct in his statement.

I am assuming the nine victims are children of God, so at this very moment they stand in the presence of life and glory itself. If they were killed because of their faith then crowns will be given to them as well. They need fear nothing ever again.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously coined the words, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” What we really need to fear is hatred itself.

Regardless of the evils we see, hear, or feel, the one thing we must not do is let hatred gain a foothold in our hearts. We have been warned sin crouches at the door waiting for us to step into it.  That warning, given by our Creator to the first murderer, is valid to all His children to this day.

Hatred crouched at the door of Dylann Roof. He stepped out alone and it devoured him. Outside influences may have led him to this heinous choice. It was, in the end, his choice to make. He must be tried in a court of law and eventually in the court of Heaven. Never doubt that hatred prowls the streets of every ethnicity and level of society. Alone you are no match for it. In submission to Christ you are. Do not let it devour you.