Magdala was a fishing town located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee (see photograph). It's variously known as Magdala, as in Matthew 15:39 in the King James Version, while the Revised Standard Version, and most others, have Magadan in that verse. During the time of His ministry, Jesus Christ lived in northern Galilee, at Capernaum, a short distance north from Magdala along the shore of the sea (see map). During His travels southward, including down to Jerusalem, Jesus would have walked many times on the road through Magdala, but the town is perhaps most famous as the home and/or birthplace of a lady popularly known as Mary of Magdala, or Mary Magdalene, who became the first human witness of Christ's Resurrection.
Mary of Magdala
Mary had some serious difficulties in her earlier life before meeting Jesus. She had seven demons cast out of her (Luke 8:2), but she later joined with the others, including The Twelve, who accompanied Jesus at times during His ministry (Luke 8:1-2). At Calvary, she stood with Mary the mother of Jesus and the others at the foot of The Cross (John 19:25-26), making her a witness of both the Crucifixion and The Resurrection:
"Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to The Tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved [see The Apostle John], and said to them, "They have taken The Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him."
"Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there [see The Shroud Of Turin], but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise from the dead."
"Then the disciples went back to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet."
"They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him."
"Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus."
"Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?" Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away."
"Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher)."
"Jesus said to her, "Do not hold Me, for I have not yet ascended to The Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God."
"Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, "I have seen The Lord"; and she told them that He had said these things to her. (John 20:1-18 RSV)
We have Mary of Magdala to thank for having this part of The Gospel record in The Bible. It would not exist without her witness.
Fact Finder: Along with Mary of Magdala, did Jesus' aunt, the sister of His mother Mary, also witness The Crucifixion?
See also Aunt Mary?