Why Mary Clung to Christ

Only a handful of women dared to visit Jesus’ tomb as Easter Sunday dawned. The male disciples cowered in fear they’d be crucified next. Between His resurrection and ascension, Jesus appeared multiple times to numerous people (Ac. 1:3, 1 Cor. 15:6). Surprisingly, His first post-resurrection appearance was to Mary Magdalene. Expecting to anoint a corpse, she had a face-to-face encounter with her risen Savior. When she realized it really was Jesus, she clung to Him. Do you blame her?

Magdalene was not Mary’s last name. It refers to Mary’s home town of Magdala on the Sea of Galilee’s western shore. She is so designated to distinguish her from eight other women named Mary in the New Testament. Her name occurs only a dozen times in the Gospels, but as you piece the puzzle together, an inspiring three-part image emerges: 

  1. Mary’s Deliverance from Demons.

Luke 8:2 and Mark 16:9 describe how Jesus delivered Mary from seven evil spirits. We are not told how the demons affected her life, body or behavior. Some commentators suggest she was epileptic and suffered from seizures. Others think she had a debilitating mental or physical illness. Whether those demons corrupted her mind or her morals or both is up for debate. The big question is, “Was Mary Magdalene a prostitute?” The Talmud (a collection of ancient Rabbinical writings) states that Magdala had a reputation for prostitution. In a sermon in 591 A.D., Pope Gregory claimed she was the unidentified, uninvited “sinner” who crashed a dinner party Jesus attended (Lk. 7:37-39). That woman, believed to be a harlot, anointed Jesus’ feet with pricey perfume and washed them with tears of repentance. Simon the Pharisee, host of the dinner, objected that Jesus even allowed the tramp to touch Him. But there is no biblical proof that woman was Mary.

Others have tried to connect Mary with the Adulteress Woman in John 8 who was drug before Jesus to be stoned until He intervened. That again is purely speculation. The Bible does not say Mary was a prostitute. It simply says she was delivered from demons and became a devout disciple. Truth be told, all Christians have been delivered from something—“Who has deliveredus from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear son” (Col. 1:13). Maybe we weren’t bound by demon possession, but we were freed from demonic oppression to some degree or another. The good news is, when Christ comes in, Satan must leave!

After her dramatic deliverance, Mary, along with other wealthy women, “ministered unto Him of their substance” (Lk. 8:2-3). How did Mary become wealthy? Did she inherit it? Magdala was known for is textile industry, making fabric and dying cloth. Was she a business woman? Somehow, she had the means to help fund Jesus’ ministry. Perhaps she bought and cooked the disciple’s food, bought and/or washed their clothes or ran errands for the Prophet and His pupils. The fact that she was free from family obligations indicates she was probably unmarried and childless. 

  1. Mary’s Dedication to Discipleship. 

Though a supporting cast member, Mary comes to the forefront in the Easter narrative. While male disciples fled, Mary devotedly followed Jesus to the bitter end. Consider the degree of dedication she displayed: she was close to the cross when Jesus died (Jn. 19:25), she participated in Jesus’ burial (Mt. 27:55-61), she was the first to discover the empty tomb (Jn. 20:1), then she ran to inform Peter and John that Jesus’ body was missing (Jn. 20:2). They, of course, doubted her story, “their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them” (Lk. 24:11), not that she made the most credible witness given her past problems.

Bible commentator Craig Keener notes, “Ancient Jewish men did not accept women as reliable witnesses for most legal purposes and this cultural tendency may have further moved John and Peter to look for themselves . . . The witness of women was worth little in Judaism; that Jesus first appears to a woman would not have been fabricated and shows us how Jesus’ values differ from those of His culture.”

Why, of all people, did Jesus appear first to Mary Magdalene? One answer is simply GRACE! One could argue that she was least deserving due to her track record. Jesus often sought out the downtrodden of society to express His love to. Another simple principle may apply—“Seek and you will find.” She was the first to the tomb, so her search was rewarded. God rewards those who diligently seek after Him (Heb. 11:6). 

  1. Mary’s Clinginess to Christ. 

Mary didn’t recognize Jesus at first, assuming He was the cemetery caretaker. When Jesus called her by name, she knew His voice and threw her arms around Him. Jesus restrained her saying, “Touch me not” (KJV). The Greek word translated “touch” here means, “to attach oneself to, to fasten to.” Other versions render that phrase, “Stop clinging to me” (NAS), “Do not hold onto me” (NIV). Do you blame her? She had just witnessed her Savior tortured and crucified and now He was ALIVE. Mary must have thought, “Lord, I lost You once, I don’t ever want to lose You again. I will never let You go!”

Skeptics use this passage to insist Jesus and Mary had a scandalous, romantic, even sexual, relationship. Modern novels and movies have made absurd claims that Mary became Jesus’ secret wife and they had a love child together. They also exploit an excerpt from fragments of the Gospel of Phillip that claims Jesus kissed Mary often. They fail to explain that kissing was a common way of greeting among Jews (1 Cor. 16:20). Parts of that document are missing so they gladly fill in the blanks with Hollywood hogwash. This recycled rumor was condemned as heresy by the early church fathers. The reason Mary clung to Jesus was not some sensual attraction, but a sincere gratitude for how He changed her life and pure elation that He was indeed alive again.

Mary Magdalene was almost certainly one of “the women” among the 120 disciples who received the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Ac. 1:14). Catholics celebrate her as a saint; Protestants consider her a heroine of faith. Tradition claims she continued to be a bold witness for Christ, leading many idol worshippers to salvation then retiring to a life of seclusion after years of public preaching. Many other unproven legends of her abound. She was the first to proclaim the Easter message. She owed much, gave much, loved much and served much. Once inhabited and tormented by demon spirits, she was filled with and transformed by the Holy Spirit. No wonder Mary clung to Christ. We should too!

Ben Godwin is the author of four books and pastors the Goodsprings Full Gospel Church. To read more articles, visit his website at bengodwin.org and take advantage of his 4-book bundle for $25.00.

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VIDEO The Abby Johnson Story – It Starts With The Workers

One day, about a decade ago, a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic director saw something at her own clinic—and it made her instantly pro-life.

Her name is Abby Johnson, and she was the director of the Bryan, Texas Planned Parenthood clinic, which was affiliated with the greater Houston area Planned Parenthood—one of the largest markets for America’s largest abortion-provider. In 2008, Abby had been voted as Planned Parenthood’s Employee of the Year. She was on a fast-track for further promotion within Planned Parenthood.

I interviewed Abby Johnson on the radio a few years ago. She told me about something that happened that made her question how good Planned Parenthood really was:

“I had been instructed to increase the abortion quota at our facility, which was strange to me because I really got involved with Planned Parenthood, believing that abortion was something we were trying to eradicate, [to] make unnecessary through various education programs.”

I said, “Safe, legal, and rare?” She said, “Sure, that’s what we said to the media, and that’s what I believed.” She naively thought abortion (as a last resort) was helpful to women.

Abby said in a television interview for D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJKM):

“Planned Parenthood says that they offer options counseling, but that’s not true….they don’t really know how to effectively counsel on anything but abortion. I was great at selling abortion. I was a very, very good salesperson. I could sell an abortion to anybody. It’s so easy when you get a woman into your office, and she is vulnerable and she’s unsure.”

But on September 26, 2009, at the request of a visiting doctor who insisted on sonogram-assisted abortions, Abby ran the sonogram machine and saw from a different perspective what her life’s work (up to that time) was really all about.

In her book, The Walls Are Talking (with Kristin Detrow, 2016), Abby writes:

“As I stood watching, a thirteen-week-old unborn child struggled and lost its life within its mother’s womb, finally crumpling and disappearing into the cannula, a hollow plastic tube attached to the suction machine by a flexible hose.”

She described it this way in the DJKM television interview:

“I was just in shock. I couldn’t believe what I was watching. And the baby was actually making some progress. It was moving further and further away from the instrument, so much so the doctor had to reposition the cannula. And he finally got everything in place, and he asked the technician to turn on the suction, and she did.”

Abby continues:

“In just, a few moments, I saw the child’s body begin to go through that tube.

For those few moments I was watching this child fight hard for its life. It didn’t have a chance. We had all those instruments and all that technology, and that little baby didn’t have a fighting change, and it did fight.”

Abby adds:

“I walked out of the room that day just realizing, ‘I’ve got to make a change. Never again. I’m never going to participate in this again.’”

Today, Abby’s story can be seen on the big screen. Unplanned, based on her best-selling book of the same title (with Cindy Lambert, 2010), opened this past weekend and was a surprise hit. It came in number five at the box office, which is quite an accomplishment for an independent pro-life movie that virtually all of Hollywood does not want you to see. I saw it on its opening weekend and highly recommend it.

Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, told me:

“The depiction of abortion in Unplanned is something that every pro-life person should see—and every pro-choice person.”

Today, one of Abby Johnson’s central goals is to assist abortion clinic workers who want to leave the abortion industry. Her organization, And Then There Were None, is directly geared toward this.

In an online video for that outreach, Abby says, “Our vision statement for And Then There Were None is ‘No abortion clinic workers, no abortion clinics, no abortions’—it starts with the workers. We see ourselves as being part of a pro-love movement…we want to love these workers out of the clinics. We want to love them to a path of healing, and we want to love them…into a relationship with Jesus Christ.” So far, they have been able to help 500 people leave the abortion clinics.

In her book, The Walls Are Talking, Abby says she relates to Mary Magdalene:

“I have also done my fair share of sinning. And I have also been forgiven much more than I deserve. I abused and betrayed women in the worst possible way. I convinced them to kill their children….It was Christ who changed me.”

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, make your plans to go see Unplanned.


Jerry Newcombe, D.Min., is an on-air host/senior producer for D. James Kennedy Ministries. He has written/co-written 31 books, e.g., The Unstoppable Jesus Christ, American Amnesia: Is American Paying the Price for Forgetting God?, What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? (w/ D. James Kennedy) & the bestseller, George Washington’s Sacred Fire (w/ Peter Lillback)   djkm.org  @newcombejerry      www.jerrynewcombe.com