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Meaning: the place of her nativity
a surname derived from Magdala
This surname was given to one of the Marys of the Gospels to distinguish her from the other Marys (Matt. 27:56, 61; 28:1, etc.). A mistaken notion has prevailed that this Mary was a woman of bad character, that she was the woman who is emphatically called “a sinner” (Luke 7:36-50).
Mary Magdalene, i.e., Mary of Magdala, a town on the western shore of the Lake of Tiberias. She is for the first time noticed in Luke 8:3 as one of the women who “ministered to Christ of their substance.” Their motive was that of gratitude for deliverances he had wrought for them. Out of Mary were cast seven demons. Gratitude to her great Deliverer prompted her to become his follower. These women accompanied him also on his last journey to Jerusalem (Matt. 27:55; Mark 15:41; Luke 23:55). They stood near the cross. There Mary remained till all was over, and the body was taken down and laid in Joseph's tomb.
Again, in the earliest dawn of the first day of the week she, with Salome and Mary the mother of James (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2), came to the sepulchre [tomb], bringing with them sweet spices, that they might anoint the body of Jesus. They found the sepulchre empty, but saw the “vision of angels” (Matt. 28:5). She hastens to tell Peter and John, who were probably living together at this time (John 20:1,2), and again immediately returns to the sepulchre. There she lingers thoughtfully, weeping at the door of the tomb. The risen Lord appears to her, but at first she knows him not. His utterance of her name “Mary” recalls her to consciousness, and she utters the joyful, reverent cry, “Rabboni.” She would fain cling to him, but he forbids her, saying, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” This is the last record regarding Mary of Magdala, who now returned to Jerusalem.
The idea that this Mary was “the woman who was a sinner,” or that she was unchaste, is altogether groundless.