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Jesus and The Marys:  Just Who Was Who?

There are some fairly strange doctrines kicking around about Mary Magdalene. But also there is a problem which makes them hard to sort out: Mary Magdalene is hardly mentioned in the Bible. Lazarus's sister Mary is mentioned a whole lot more. And she is frequently confused in people's minds with Mary Magdalene. And worse yet - there are just a lot of Marys in the New Testament of the Bible.

The strange truth is, however, that it may be OK to confuse Lazarus's sister Mary with Mary Magdalene. Here's why: It's very hard to prove that they are not the same person. Using the Biblical scriptures you can make the case that they probably are one and the same Mary!!

Whoever she is, she has a place in scripture, and is listed as a woman who, like certain others, followed Jesus and tried to assist His ministry with what means she had. She was certainly with Him until the end. She was devoted. But there are a lot of doctrines that assume her to be more, doctrines which people are believing all too easily, at least it seems. Unfortunately, some of them cast dispersions on Jesus while pretending to merely give Mary Magdalene her 'just place of honor.'

Some of these strange doctrines say that , yes, Mary Magdalene was indeed Jesus's wife, or that Jesus had children with her, or that she was Jesus's lover with or without matrimony, with or without children. This particular idea is not necessarily the worst of the strange doctrines floating around these days, but it isn't much of a match with the scriptures, and worst of all it robs Mary Magdalene (or at least Lazarus's sister Mary)of her rightful identity as an extremely important example for the Christian community and for Christian women.

For one thing, the woman clearly identified as Lazarus's sister Mary (who annointed Jesus with ointment and tears, wiping Him with her hair afterwards) is an example of how a saved and repented woman should behave towards Jesus. Jesus was clearly pleased by her attitude towards Him, and she was counted consistently among those closest to Him among His companions. In a nut shell, you could say this about her attitude towards Jesus: she liked to hear His words, help with His work, and be with the other disciples. She loved Him, she felt so personally grateful to him for the forgiveness she had been given, and she openly let Him know it. She was concerned about Him in her thoughts and actions. Any Christian woman today might consider her story among others as she decides how to conduct her life to best please the Lord.

I wish to comment against a couple of possibilities concerning Mary right away. One is that Jesus kept her as His concubine. Not likely at all. To be lovers but unmarried is to fornicate, and the scriptures say Jesus led a life that was without sin from birth to crucifixion (and beyond). So since fornication is a sin, He could not have fornicated with Mary Magdalene or anyone else. He was definately not 'lovers' with her unless the scriptures are false, and I personally don't want to have a discussion where we assume the scriptures are false. They have proven themselves very, very well at this point in time. So why even go there?

So, if she wasn't his concubine, was Jesus married to Mary Magdalene? I think that most of the scriptural evidence says 'not likely'. First, though, let's figure out which women were called Mary. It's actually a little confusing.

There is a Mary the wife of Clopas. See John 19:25 She is at the cross when Jesus is crucified. She is with Jesus's mother Mary and with Mary Magdalene. I know nothing else about her, really. Some traditions have her being Joseph's sister (sister of Jesus's earthly dad) and therefore Jesus's aunt. But I think that's an unsupported identity using our presently existing Biblical reference materials. Not that it's necessarily unlikely - just that it's not directly supported by anything I know about in the Bible.

Her husband Clopus might be one of the two disciples that meet Jesus (though Jesus is in a form they do not recognize) after his crucifixion, and who walk beside Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Jesus opens up the scriptures to their minds and hearts as He speaks to them about what had to befall the Messiah they had waited for, to fulfill the scriptures. But it is not until they have dinner with Him that they suddenly see it is Jesus, as He breaks bread with them. Then He disappears. One of those two men is called Cl (e) opus, in Luke 24:18, which is close. Cleopus might be a spelling variation of Clopus. And if Clopus was this disciple, then it is reasonable to see his wife at the foot of Jesus's cross when Jesus is crucified. And if she is Jesus's aunt, it is also reasonable that she be there.

Jesus's mother was another Mary. She wasn't Mary Magdalene of course, and I don't think anyone has ever thought she was, but as proof,there are scriptures where Mary (Jesus's mother) and Mary Magdalene are mentioned as standing beside each other. One is Luke 24:9, 10, where the women have been to Jesus's empty tomb early Sunday morning after His crucifixion, and they found the tomb empty, etc., : "And they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all of the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them , who told these things to the apostles." So, there were two women named Mary mentioned in this passage. One was the mother of James, and Jesus had a brother named James.

As for why this Mary is not called 'the mother of Jesus' rather than 'the mother of James' we do not know. But certainly that would have been the more likely thing to call her. Jesus, hanging on the cross, had actually directed the 'disciple that He loved' to take this Mary on as his mother, and Mary to take this 'disciple that Jesus loved' on as her son. I think the Holy Spirit, in writing this as He has through the writers of the gospels, was trying to prevent 'Mary worship'. Jesus entrusted her to this 'loved disciple', at any rate.

The writer of Luke calls her 'the mother of James'. I think they are trying to establish that she is the hand maid of the Lord, and a blessed woman, but not a goddess. But that's another subject.

So, there is a Mary Magdalene, and a Mary mother of Jesus and James, and Mary the wife of Clopas. Three 'Marys' so far.

A fourth Mary is mentioned in The Book of Acts. Peter escapes Herod's jail with an angel's help, and he goes to the house of Mary the mother of John Mark.  John Mark is the Mark from the Gospel of Mark, but he is young at this point in time. (Some say it is Mark who is grabbed but then twists out of his garment in the Garden of Gesthemene, and then runs off naked, when the soldiers come to apprehend Jesus.) But this Mary is very little mentioned. Only here I think.

In John 11:1-5 as well as in other places in the other Gospels we learn of a 5th woman named Mary. There is a Mary, Martha, and Lazarus from the town of Bethany, which is about two miles from Jerusalem. They are brothers and sisters to each other, and are already Jesus' aquaintances when they are mentioned in John 11:5. In fact, Jesus seems to love Lazarus very much.  In his account, Lazarus has died, and in John 11:1 a messenger comes to Jesus, telling Him that Lazarus was sick. Here are the words: "Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who annointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair. Therefore the sisters sent to Him saying 'Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.' When Jesus heard that, He said 'This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.' Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus."   End quote.

Here we find out that Jesus had known Lazarus long enough to love him. That the 'sisters' Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus. We learn that Jesus loves them also, but there is no seeming difference in His love for the one woman more than for the other. Mary is not differentiated from her sister Martha as being romantically linked to Jesus. There is no sign here that Lazarus is Jesus's brother-in-law or that this Mary is Jesus's wife or intended bride, etc. We learn that this Mary is 'that Mary who annointed Jesus with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair.' At no spot in the gospel of John prior to this chapter and verse has there been any mention of Jesus's feet being annointed in any manner by any woman with any substance, either tears or spikenard oil. So, there is an awareness in the telling of the Gospel of John that we will need to know which Mary annoints Jesus.

So I personally read it in such a way that John's writer is making a point of telling us which Mary annoints Jesus: it is the sister of Lazarus. And I think it is thereby letting us know that no other Mary annoints Jesus in the Gospels. If so, that could be important, because during the annointing of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, done by an unnamed 'sinful woman' , the annointing seems to come out of chronological order, possibly, compared to the other Gospels. So in Luke, some people think it is a different woman - they assume it is Mary Magdalene, though there is no direct evidence for this assumption that I'm aware of.  And Luke is the only one of the Gospels where you can imagine it is anyone but Lazarus's sister annointing Jesus. The other Gospels make it pretty clear that it was Mary, sister of Lazarus.

But back to Lazarus: he has been dead for four days and is in a rock tomb by the time Jesus arrives. This Mary, Lazarus's sister, greets Jesus by falling at his feet and saying "Lord, if You had been here my brother would not have died." John 11:32   So, this Mary calls Jesus Lord and in the same sentence calls Lazarus her brother. Now Sarah was married to Abraham and called him Lord, but Lord seems an unlikely way to greet your husband. Here is a little interaction between Jesus and a Mary (possibly Mary Magdalene, though certainly Lazarus's sister) where there is no evidence of romantic connection at all.

Jesus, in the next verses of the Gospel of John (up to John 11:44) raises Lazarus from the dead. It's a great moment, but I won't recount it right here.

Next, let's consider how John chapter 12:1-8 speaks of how a dinner was served to honor Jesus in Bethany, the town where Lazarus was from. Lazarus has by this time been raised from the dead by Jesus:

"Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead. There they made Him a supper, and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him."

"Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of Spikenard, annointed the feet of Jesus, then wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil."

"But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray Him, said 'Why was this fragrant oil not sold for 300 dinarii and given to the poor?" (A dinarii was a coin considered to be a days wage for a laborer, so this pound of spikenard oil cost 300 days wages basically. Today, nearly any laborer's wage would be $60.00/day in the USA, so that's about $15,000.00 worth of oil, if we look at it that way. It shows us that Mary was probably a woman of means, which makes sense.  Or possibly she was custodian of this valuable oil for some particular reason.)

But as for what the Apostle Judas said concerning this woman's use of the costly oil which was worth 300 dinarii, here is what scripture says:  "This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it."

"But Jesus said 'Let her alone; for she has kept this for the day of my burial. ' "

"For the poor you have with you always, but me you do not have always."

This happened shortly before the 'triumphal entry' in the Gospel of John, which occasion is celebrated as Palm Sunday by the Catholic church.

So what did we learn? Lazarus, the disciple whom Jesus loved, ate with Him at the table during this meal. Martha served. Mary annointed Jesus's feet with 300 dinarii worth of Spikenard oil, and Judas Iscariot got mad about it. Nothing here definatively says that this Mary (apparently the sister of Lazarus and Martha) was the same as Mary Magdalene, or with absolute certainty that this Mary was Lazarus and Martha's sister. And obviously nothing says that this Mary was involved romantically with Jesus. But we do hear one odd thing: Jesus knew that Mary had 'kept this (the spikenard ointment) for the day of my burial.' How did Mary know she would see the day of Jesus's burial? How did Jesus know she had been keeping it? Was it just because He is the Son of God and knows things, or does He know because of long standing personal aquaintance with Mary. It's a strange statement, and hard to answer. But in about 5 days at the most Jesus was to be crucified, as things turned out.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Spikenard, by the way, is a plant prized for it's aromatic root. It grows widely in the Himalaya mountains. The root is steamed, then the water condensed to concentrate the oil. There is a green and a brown spikenard plant, and the green is the better for making this oil. There is an American plant called a spikenard, but it is a different species of plant.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

So, let's gather some more Mary information on this Mary that does the anointing. Let's start with Mark 14: 1-10 :

"After two days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might take Him by trickery and put Him to death. But they said 'Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar of the people.' "

"And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. "

"But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said 'Why was this fragrant oil wasted?' "

" 'For it might have been sold for more than 300 dinarii and given to the poor.' And they criticized her sharply."

"But Jesus said 'Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come before hand to annoint my body for burial. Assuredly I say to you, where ever this gospel is preached in the whole world , what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.' "

"Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Him to them."

Now if we consider this passage above, we can draw a few conclusions: This quote directly above was from the Gospel of Mark.  The oil of spikenard used again costs 300 denarii, so it almost has to be the same woman spoken of earlier, from the Gospel of John, as having used 300 denarii worth of spikenard oil.

  So this woman that Mark's gospel doesn't name just about has to be Mary the Sister of Lazarus and Martha spoken of in John.  And we know by combining the accounts that Mary also must have annointed Jesus's feet with the oil at the same time, then wiped His feet clean with her hair. And the fragrance filled the house. Lazarus and Martha are at this feast. Lazarus is eating with Jesus, and Martha is serving, And they are at the home of Simon the Leper in Bethany when this all happens. It is six days before the Passover Feast and apparently two days until the start of the Feast of Unleavened Bread/Passover combined feast. The feasts coincided that year, it seems. 

By combining the accounts we can paint a clearer and more complete picture. Now let's add yet another account of this 'annointing of Jesus ' into the mix and see what that tells us:

Matthew 26:1-16 merely reaffirms Mark 14:1-10 in all of it's details except that it doesn't list the denarii value of the oil of spikenard. But it does mention that Judas betrays Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Other than that, they give the same account concerning Jesus, and the woman that is possibly Mary is again referred to as 'a woman' in Matthew 14: 1 - 10. But because of the other details we just about know that it is Mary the sister of Lazarus and Martha.

Let's read from the Gospel of Luke at Luke 7:37.

"Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him, and He went to the Pharisees house, and and sat down to eat."

"And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she new that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisees house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and she began to wipe his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and she kissed his feet and annointed them with fragrant oil."

"Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw, he spoke to himself, saying 'The man, if he were a Prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner."

"And Jesus said 'Simon, I have something to say to you."

"So he said 'Teacher, say it.' "

"There was a certain creditor who had two debters. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell me, therefore, which will love him most?"

"Simon answered and said 'I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him 'You have rightly judged.' "

"Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for My feet, but she has washed my feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not annoint My head with oil, but this woman has annointed my feet with fragrant oil. Therefore, I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little."

"The He said to her 'Your sins are forgiven.' "

"And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves 'Who is this who even forgives sins?' "

"Then He said to the woman 'Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.' "

Simon's house was in Bethany, so it makes sense that if this was Mary, sister of Lazarus (they also lived in Bethany) that Simon might know her reputation. Apparently Simon thought this woman's past wasn't too pure. Could he tell by looking, or did he personally know her as a neighbor?

Anyway, this account we just read is a little different. It is in the Gospel of Luke. Luke was not an Apostle (not one of the 12 Apostles) but he was a disciple. He seems to relate this story earlier in Jesus's chronological ministry than the similar accounts we've read from the other gospels which are so much like it. For instance, following this account in Luke they soon cross the water and encounter the Gadarene demoniac from whom the spirits called Legion are driven out and into swine. That makes it seem like it could be a different story. But, there are many similarities with the other Gospel's accounts. In other Gospel accounts of 'the annointing' it happened at the house of Simon the leper. Here it is again a 'Simon', but he is merely described as a Pharisee. It is not mentioned that he was a leper. 

A woman comes in and annoints Jesus, as in the other accounts. She is unreservedly grateful and repentant, as in other accounts. Whatever substance this woman in Luke annointed Jesus with came from an alabaster jar. That was true in other Gospel accounts. The type of oil is not mentioned here in Luke. The value of the oil is not mentioned, as in other some other Gospel accounts. So, in order to know if this account is an account of the same event as the others, it would be helpful to find one of the following actions or conditions to occur here in Luke:

1) Judas to rise and leave to arrange to betray Jesus because of this 'waste' of fragrant oil. (Not found here)

2) To find out that this Simon the Pharisee is Simon the leper. (I didn't find a dead certain link, but the circumstantial probability is high)

3) That the oil was spikenard or that it was worth 300 dinarii. (Not verifiable in the Gospel of Luke)

4) That Lazarus and Martha were there. (There's no evidence that they were at that feast spoken of in the Luke chapter 7 account.)

5) To find out the name of this woman in Luke who annoints Jesus. (Here in the Gospel of Luke, Mary Magdalene is first mentioned shortly after this presently discussed account of a woman annointing Jesus at Simon the Pharisee's house. In Luke 8:2 she is referred to as 'Mary called Magdalene out of whom 7 demons had come'. But there is no certain reason to link Mary Magdalene to being the very same woman who annointed Jesus here in Luke or in any other Gospel's description of the annointing of Jesus.

But, in Luke, the host at who's house Jesus was eating thought the mystery woman was a bad type of woman. If the woman was Lazarus's sister Mary, then it makes you wonder if Lazarus's sister Mary and Mary Magdalene could be the same woman? (Is there any scriptural proof against it? Again, I can't think of any or find any right at the moment.)

One thing certainly is curious: Mary the sister of Lazarus doesn't make any appearances at the cross but Mary Magdalene does - and Mary the sister of Lazarus doesn't make any appearances at Jesus's tomb, but Mary Magdalene does. Why is that, you have to wonder? Bethany, where they live, is only two miles from Jerusalem. It seems strange that neither Lazarus (by that name) or Martha, or a Mary called the sister of Lazarus and Martha (by that name) travelled that two miles in time to see the crucifixion, or to later be mentioned as being at the tomb. Unless....perhaps Mary Magdalene and Mary, Lazarus's sister, were the same woman. But what about Lazarus then?

So, in Luke there is a story very similar to the annointing story which, in the other Gospels, we have linked Lazarus's sister Mary to. But, it seems to occur earlier in Jesus's ministry, the woman is not clearly named Mary in the Luke account, the host is not clearly Simon the leper though he is named Simon and is noted as being a Pharisee. But Simon was a common name. Two of Jesus's 12 apostles were named Simon, for instance. Still, the odds are long that two seperate but similar-in-nature annointings would be performed by women at the house of some one named Simon. You can't rule it out, but it seems unlikely.

And though it's only two verses, and perhaps shouldn't be held to account too heavily concerning the particular point I want to make, none the less consider John 11:1,2 once again:

"Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was the Mary who annointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, 'Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick.' "

So, the writer of John refers to " was 'the' (my quotations) Mary who annointed the Lord with ointment..." as if there were only one Mary who had done that. Not two or three women, but only one woman.

Some people believe that Mary Magdalene also did this (additionallly did this)  - that Mary Magdalene - a second woman - was the unnamed 'sinful woman' in Luke 7:37 who annoints Jesus' feet.  Maybe so, but it seems more and more to me that only one woman annointed Jesus's feet and head with her spikenard ointment and her tears, then cleaned them with her hair. It seems that it was probably Mary the sister of Lazarus. So, could Mary Magdalene and Mary the sister of Lazarus be the same person? And could Lazarus possibly be the 'disciple whom Jesus loved'?

I think they could have been. I think the Apostles were scattered and in fear for their lives when Jesus was carrying the cross up the hill so that he could be crucified on it. I think that a 'holy terror' was put into them, making them abnormally afraid. After all, if almost all of them later died a martyr's death for Jesus, then why did the Roman soldiers have to pick a stranger - Cyrus of Cyrene - to carry Jesus's cross up the hill for Him? Wasn't there even one Apostle that would die for Jesus or with Jesus at that particular point in time? I just believe the verse "I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered." was in affect. So - I think that maybe when Jesus was on the cross and saw Mary Magdalene, Mary His Mother, and the 'disciple whom he loved' he was actually looking at the people we know as His Mother Mary, Lazarus, and Mary that was called Magdalene that was also Lazarus's sister.

Consider John 16:32, in which Jesus speaks to His disciples prior to going to the Garden of Gathsemene where he will be taken into custody. He is preparing them mentally for what the coming days will bring. He says: "Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me."

That makes it sound like the Apostles might not show up when He is crucified. Were there no Apostles at the foot of the cross?

Consider John 13:36. Jesus is talking to His disciples about His imminent crucifixion, but they do not understand. "Simon Peter said to Him 'Lord, where are you going?' Jesus answered, 'Where I go you cannot follow me now; but you will follow later."

So Peter may not have stayed too close to Jesus after his (Peter's )three denials of Jesus, though this verse does not definately state that. This verse might merely mean that Peter wouldn't be crucified now, but would be later.

In Mark 14:27 on the night he would be captured Jesus said to His disciples:"You will all fall away, because it is written 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.' " Notice that He says 'all' will fall away.

I think there is a fair amount of suggestive evidence that none of Jesus's Apostles hung around for the crucifixion. Maybe John did, or maybe he didn't. John had connections, and was able to enter the temple where Jesus was first taken to be questioned by the priests. In fact the Apostle John is usually thought to be the one called the 'disciple that Jesus loved'. The Gospel of John is the one place where the term shows up, and there is, at the end, an instance where Jesus - referring to the 'disciple whom he loved' - says something possibly suggesting that the referred to disciple might not die a normal death like other people, which is interesting.

But is the Gospel of John written by the Apostle John? Many experts think that Revelation (many say it was clearly written by John the Apostle) was written by a different person than the Gospel of John - supposedly different writing styles, etc. I don't know.

Could John and Lazarus be the same person? James and John were the sons of a fisherman - Zebedee. But Lazarus was from Bethany. It was quite a little way to the Sea of Galilee from there. It doesn't really seem like there is any reason to suppose that Lazarus and John were the same person, I don't think.

But it is perhaps barely possible that Lazarus gives the account in the Gospel called the Gospel of John. I would say that it is interesting that the Gospel of John has such deep knowledge, such beautiful imagery, such a profound description - at it's beginning - of Jesus's relationship to the Father. Was it written by a man who had spent four days being dead? Perhaps Lazarus knew some things other men did not know. Also, why did Jesus say, concerning 'the disciple that He loved', that he might tarry until Jesus returns. Can you die again after Jesus gives you life after death? Maybe you can't. But Lazarus was given life after death. Four days after death he was brought back to lifed.  That's pretty dead! He had started to smell dead already, his sister believed.  She warned Jesus about the smell when He came to resurrect Lazarus. 

Also, there is an interesting use of the word 'we' at the end of the Gospel of John. In this account, Jesus has been crucified, but has now returned to the Apostles and disciples alive. He is with them at the edge of the sea of Galilee in this instance. It is here that Jesus restores the embarassed Peter to the ranks of His friends, and gives Peter his commission to care for Jesus's sheep. But after that is the odd statement. It is this: "Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved, the one who had also reclined against His chest at the supper and said 'Master, which is the one who will betray you?' When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus 'Lord, what about him?' Jesus said to him 'What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is that of yours? You follow me.' So the word spread among the brothers that that disciple would not die. But Jesus had not told him that he would not die, just 'What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is that of yours?' It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true.'

So, having read that, who is the 'we' that knows the testimony is true? It is the writer of this Gospel of John who must be saying that he is part of the unnamed 'we' that 'knows it is true', right? Is it possible that Lazarus is the testifier and not the writer? Could John be the writer. Or is this Gospel called the Gospel of John because it was assumed that John gave the account, when perhaps it had actually been Lazarus? Or did John write it for Lazarus? Or, maybe John really is the disciple that Jesus loved, but Lazarus is another one called 'the disciple that Jesus loved'. But here's the one thing that is certainly true: Lazarus is verifiably called 'the disciple that Jesus loved'. John is not verifiable as the owner of that title, to my knowledge. Churches preach it, but I don't think Jesus ever used that term when it is certain He meant John. Again, it was used definately to describe Jesus's feelings about Lazarus. In John 11:1 the sisters of Lazarus refer to Lazarus as 'the one Jesus loves.'

So who took care of Jesus's mother Mary? Maybe, just maybe, we know less about that than we think.

Here is John 19:25 - 27 : "But standing by the cross of Jesus were His Mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!" Then He said to the disciple "Behold your Mother!" From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.

How odd is all of that?!? Jesus has at least 4 brothers in His family, and sisters also. His mother's sister is there at the cross as well. So why is Jesus giving His mother into the safe keeping of 'the disciple whom He loved'? Did he not yet have His own brother's confidence and discipleship? We know for sure that later James (Jesus's brother) is a believer.

But what if this was Lazarus? Was He giving His mother into Lazarus's care? And into the care of Mary the sister of Lazarus? Maybe the Apostles needed to go out into the world and evangelize, and maybe Lazarus was going to be a good person to leave His mother with, as Lazarus was a disciple, but never called an Apostle. But all of this is just speculation on my part. I don't really think the scriptures share the full details on this subject.

Let's get back to whether Mary Magdalene was Jesus's wife.

Consider this passage from Luke 8: v. 1-3 more fully.

'Now it came to pass afterwards that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the 12 were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities - Mary, called Magdalene, out of whom had come 7 demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.'

So, having read that passage, and given that Jesus had a 3 1/2 year ministry before His crucifixion (the estimate most commonly accepted by Biblical scholars it seems) then if Jesus had been married to Mary for more than about 3 years before His crucufixion then He would have been married to a woman posessed by 7 demons. Since this is monumentally unlikely, it would seem that if Jesus had married Mary Magdalene it must have been after He drove the demons from her and during the last 3 years of His life on Earth.

Since the Pharisees and Saduccees eventually ganged up against Jesus, and had the temple soldiers bring Him forcibly from the Mount of Olives to be tried before them, they would like to have had as much evidence as possible to accuse Him with. That way the people would have been less opposed to their execution of Jesus, who had done many great works among them. So, search the Gospels all you want, there is no account of the Jews making accusations against Jesus where they brought it up that he had married a woman that was formerly demon posessed, or formerly a prostitute, or anything like that. Now that would have been a juicy weapon - some very damaging evidence to use against Him - if they had had it to use.

Can a man claiming to be the Son of God also be the husband of an ex-whore or a formerly demon posessed evil woman? (Actually, that sort of thing is up to God! Jesus was indeed descended from Rahab the (prostitute?) from Jericho and from the non-Jewish Ruth the Moabitess, and the adulterous Bathsheba, the wife for whom King David committed both adultery and murder. So God is not a respecter of persons, since in His eyes all men are hopelessly sinful without Jesus's atoning blood.)

But the germaine point is that on the dark and evil night when the Jewish leadership drug Jesus in to accuse Him and find any reason they could to have Him crucified, they certainly would have been glad to have a damaging statement like that to make. But they did not make that accusation, or any accusation involving Jesus being involved with a sinful woman. No such accusation is mentioned anyway.  Why? Most likely because it's not the truth, and they would have been called liars for accusing Jesus of that. People would have known it was untrue, because Jesus led a very very public life. How could it be that Jesus could have been married during His ministry without it's mention surviving in the Gospels?

True, there is a Gospel of Phillip which makes suggestions of intimacy between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, but this 'gospel' is of disputed veracity and was never included in the Bible. People tend to get excited by newly surfaced 'gospels', but they were known of back in the day the Bible was composed into a book, and those people had their reasons for rejecting some as false and keeping some as true. Not everything is about covering up damaging, earthshattering secrets. There were some demonstrably bogus writings extant in that day, and the situation was getting worse. That's why they convened to cull the false, and compile the good and the true into the book we call the Bible.

Consider another point: Jesus, dying on the cross, is careful to ask the 'Apostle John?' to care for Mary who is His mother, yet makes no mention of caring for His wife. If He had a wife, wouldn't He have asked that she too be cared for?

Mary, Jesus's mother, is venerated to the point of possibly being worshipped in some churches. Which church venerates Mary Magdalene in this way? If Mary the mother was Holy because she gave birth to the holy seed (Jesus), then wouldn't the woman receiving the 'Holy Seed's seed' be venerated also, by those who lived then and knew the facts? But there is no such record that I have ever heard of, though I do know that Mary Magdalene was indeed made into a Saint, and in the Eastern church was more overtly revered.

Was it prophesied that Jesus would have no wife - no earthly woman to be His bride in the normal way? I do not know of any prophesy totally excluding the possibility of an earthly wife. But...there are certainly a lot of passages that seem to suggest it.

Here is Isaiah 53: v. 7 and part of v. 8 for instance, written around the 700 something B.C. time frame. It refers to the troubles that a future figure (that turned out to be Jesus) would face. In those verses it says this: "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. As a sheep before it's shearers is silent so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgement, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living. "

So did you notice the phrase " .....and from judgement, and who will declare his generation"? So here's another reason I don't think Jesus had any children. It was posed as a prophetic rhetorical question in Isaiah that there was apparently going to be no one who would be able to name His generation (children.) It sounds like it's saying His life would be cut short without Him ever having any children.

How about when the Apostle Paul speaks later to various churches about marriage...he never mentions Jesus's being married. He never mentions Jesus's marital state at all. Neither does Peter or James or Timothy or John or Jude. Some writings speak about how things should be between a man and his wife, but never once referring to Jesus's earthly marriage as an example, or, in fact, referring to Jesus having any marriage except to His 'bride', the Church. Why would they fail to mention Jesus's marriage? What better example of a Christian marriage could there be than the Christ's own? Yet no mention is made.

After Jesus is crucified, the Jewish priests have His tomb gaurded so the Apostles can't steal the body and then claim Jesus arose. They were thinking of ways to stamp out Jesus's influence for good and ever. Yet they made no recorded arrangements to silence His wife or children. Why? Probably there were no wife and no children.

Jesus had brothers. Why did none of them betroth Mary Magdalene after Jesus's death so that Jesus's widow could have children? That is what a brother was supposed to do for a childless widow left by his brother. But there is no record of this that I'm aware of. Probably there was no wife and no children.

There really gets to be so much circumstantial evidence against Jesus being married that only a scriptural coverup could allow for it. If someone rewrote the New Testament writings to edit out Jesus's marriage to Mary then I suppose it might be possible. But that seems highly unlikely.  The Gospels were written, along with the Letters and the Acts of the Apostles, while there were still many living who knew Jesus.  So did they erase his 'marriage' from the record when there were so many people around to accuse them of being revisionists?  Hardly a plausible possiblity!    

In the end, the idea of Mary Magdalene being Jesus's wife seems very very unlikely. Much of what is attributed to Mary Magdalene was done by Mary the sister of Lazarus who may or may not be the same person. The annointings were most likely done by Lazarus's sister, but she does appear to have been forgiven of a great deal, so maybe 7 demons really had been driven from Mary, sister of Lazarus.

Do you remember how Jesus approached Jerusalem riding on a donkey and leading a colt beside Him in Matthew 21:7? Was this not to show the Jews in Jerusalem that He was the Messiah coming for His 'bride', which was supposed to be them, and He had brought a mount for her to ride upon? Sadly, she was not there. As in Chapter 5 of The Song of Solomon, she heard his hand at the latch, but could not rouse herself. He left, and she had to find him among the Shullamite's.

Anyway, there are some interesting questions you can ask. The smarter people that looked at it before probably got it right when they said Jesus gave his Mother to John, and as for Mary Magdalene being the same Mary as the sister of Lazarus, the smarter people probably would have mentioned that too - but even so, I personally think that I do see Mary Magdalen being the same person as 'Mary, Lazarus' sister'. But as to the Mary Magdalene/Jesus romance question - I feel pretty solid about the scriptures giving no suggestion that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were romantically involved, that they were ever parents together, or ever married. It simply doesn't seem likely at all.

However it turns out is fine with me, but I believe that the Church is Jesus's bride. And I believe Mary Magdalene is our example of how a saved sinner should respond to Jesus. I heard a preaching in a certain mountain church in the eastern USA on this subject that seemed so convincing that I feel satisfied on this point for now. That preaching only addressed why she was important and didn't speculate about her identity. But that man's sermon certainly made me realize that it was special how very much humble gratitude was displayed towards Jesus by the Mary who annointed Him and followed Him. But we'll be unlikely to ever know with absolute certainty just who she was until Jesus returns. I'll be curious to see.

But whoever it was that annointed his feet, she praised and honored her Lord - Jesus, the Son of the Living God, and our Savior.  So God Bless Her!  Jesus said what she did would always be remembered.  Well, it's been almost 2000 years, and probably a billion people know her annointment that's not a bad start so far!

©2017 Daniel Curry & 'Deeds of God' Website