“I believe [Mary Magdalene’s] simple, graceful impact is to remind us of the power of following Jesus…” (Graceful Influence, Lori Roeleveld, p. 131).

“What do you mean you don’t believe?” The tone in my voice surprised me, and I took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. Let me rephrase. What happened? I mean, why the change?”

The young woman across the table was no stranger. In fact, she’s a loved one—someone who invited Jesus into her heart as a girl, was baptized in our farm’s pond, journaled her favorite Bible passages and prayers.

“I’m just not sure anymore. After all the hypocrisy I’ve witnessed at church, the ways I see Christians passing judgement, many of those in leadership who shake a finger on Sunday but live secret lives of sin the remaining six days of the week, doing the very things they tell others not to do. Yeah, I don’t think religion’s for me.”

No longer a believer?

My heart hurt with this confession. But, I understood. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard similar.

Still, I wanted to shout, Religion’s not what it’s about. What matters most is relationship.

Because we know–People fail us, but Jesus never will.

So instead, I prayed—Please show this young woman evidences of Your love in unique and surprising ways, using unique and surprising people.

And I’m still praying, will continue until my petition’s answered.

Perhaps this is familiar to you too—a similar plea made for a family member. A friend.

After all, we know them—those folks who once professed to believe in Jesus, but, at some point, for some reason, turned away.

It’s heartbreaking, is it not?

And the closer, more loved by us this person is, the harder. We worry, lose sleep, and question how this ever happened.

Truth is, the Bible offers a warning. Even some of Jesus’s disciples did an about-face—

At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him (John 6:66 NLT).

Maybe it’s…

  • Disillusionment.
  • Fear of  persecution.
  • One’s inability to rectify how, if there’s a loving God, bad things happen.

Summed up, many fall away from their faith because of life’s challenges. Rather than press in to their Savior, trusting Him to see them through, they, like Peter, deny Him.

But there is a particular story. It’s all about a steadfast relationship with Jesus, discovered in a unique and surprising person.

Her name is Mary Magdalene, and her testimony possesses lasting impact for those who lean in and learn, witnessing her–

  • Devotion.
  • Tenacity.
  • Her genuine, grace-filled faith.

This woman, prior to being healed from demon possession, was best suited for an insane asylum, but she became a passionate disciple—one who not only persevered despite the possibility of persecution but, according to John’s Gospel, was a mourner-turned-missionary.

Her Past

We don’t know much about Mary Magdalene prior to her meeting Jesus–just that she was from the coastal city of Magdala and was possessed by seven demons.

The first verses of Luke 8 tell us Jesus healed her. Afterward, she, along with several other women, had a special relationship with Jesus. With the twelve, they followed Him on His journeys.

Her Passion

After being set free, Mary Magdalene was passionate about her Savior. We know this because, not only was she His devoted follower throughout His three years of public ministry, she was one of the women who observed His crucifixion (John 19:25), something that took great tenacity.

She was also present at the tomb. In fact, according to John’s account, she was the first woman at the Garden Tomb—the first to discover Jesus had risen, though she didn’t know this immediately (John 20:11-18).

Her Pursuit

After hearing Jesus call her name, Mary Magdalene’s eyes were opened (John 20:16a). She then realized the man was more than a gardener.

He was the risen Messiah (20:16b)!

Being the first to witness the resurrected Jesus, she became in that moment not only the first Christian, but, until others, too, heard and believed, the only Christian.

More, with Jesus’s commission, Mary Magdalene was the first evangelist. Obeying her Master’s words, her pursuit was to spread the Good News, telling the disciples what He said–

I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God (John 20:18).

Again, this unique and surprising person, having been given a specific task, became the first Christian missionary.

And one can learn from her message–her grace-filled faith–even all these years later, then use it as an evangelistic tool in the sharing of the Good News.

Her Eternal Impact

Telling Mary Magdalene’s story to our wayward family members and friends might seem silly. Perhaps we wonder–

Is hers any more impactful than another’s? But the power in this woman’s tale is the fact that it’s included at all.

In truth, women weren’t highly regarding in ancient times. Their words mattered little. Their stories didn’t hold strength when compared with their male counterparts’.


The Holy Spirit’s prompting of John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, to write about her in this manner—sharing how Mary Magdalene, a female, was the focus of Jesus’s attention right after He’d risen from the grave—is a testament to this account’s validity.

No man in his right mind would ever use a woman’s story, unless the testimony was true.

Therefore, Mary Magdalene’s words—that which she shared with the eleven remaining male disciples of Jesus—still possess power, all these centuries later.


  • For us.
  • For those who’ve turned away.

Her Powerful Proclamation?

I have seen the Lord (John 20:18)!

In Lori Roeleveld’s new release Graceful Influence—Making a Lasting Impact through Lessons from Women of the Bible (Our Daily Bread Publishing, 2024), we read–

“Even when [following Jesus] becomes challenging, following Him not only makes our lives worthwhile, but it encourages others to not turn [away]. Daily, like her, we choose to follow” (p. 131).

As we, like Mary Magdalene, walk with Jesus with devotion, tenacity, and genuine, grace-filled faith, others will watch.

Witnessing the reality of the risen Savior in our lives—with Jesus as our passion and pursuit—they’ll hear our powerful proclamation too, even when no words are spoken.

Yes, we have seen the Lord!

Questions to Ponder:

  • With whom might you share Mary Magdalene’s story?  
  • How does her testimony encourage and inspire you?
  • What other unique and surprising stories might help bring your wayward loved one home? 

Father, You love our wayward ones so much more than we ever could. Help us persevere in prayer and give us opportunities to share truth. Help us remember to speak the gospel all the time–with both our words and actions. May it be so!

***(To order Lori Roeleveld’s new release, Graceful Influence, click the title!)***

(All passages taken from the NLT; images from Pixabay)