Women in the Bible – Lesson 6: Mary Magdalene

Women in the Bible Mary

A youth Bible study on Women in the Bible based on the Yale Bible Study.

Lesson Developed by

Jill Olds and Victoria Crook


Women who go outside the norms

Tips to Prepare

  • If in person, set the room with chairs or around a table for a small group conversation
  • If virtually, schedule in your preferred video platform

Materials Checklist


Scripture Focus

John 20:1-18

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings 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 understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” 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, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. 

Introduction for Leaders


  • Begin with a check in with members
  • Open with prayer


Activity 1: Let’s Play Jeopardy

Best if used with a tv/projector but can also be used via screen share for virtual events.

  • Set up the space as you need and break the students into different groups (around 5 students per group but can change depending on size).
  • You can find a template for Women of the Bible Jeopardy or Women in History Jeopardy .
  • After each answer, take time to discuss why these women are important and why they might be included. If youth don’t know who they are, spend some time looking up some information about them.

Activity 2: Video

Watch Nike “Dream Crazier” video



Read the focal scripture and discuss the following questions together:

  1. Mary Magdalene is commonly referred to as a “prostitute,” but this is a conflation of several stories, and both the Old Testament Hebrew and the New Testament Greek words for “prostitute” more realistically translate as either a sex worker OR as a woman who was a free spirit of sorts, someone who is acting outside of the patriarchal norms. What do you make of this, in light of this story of Mary? How does her agency buck the trend of what is expected of women in that time?
  2. What does it mean that history has made Mary, one of Jesus’ most faithful followers, into a prostitute over time? How often are women (or any of us) misunderstood in our schools, our families?
  3. What does it mean that Mary is the first person Jesus visits after he comes back to life? What does it mean that she is the first witness, and the first messenger of the Resurrection? What might it mean for us to be continuing witnesses of this?

Send Forth

Close the meeting in prayer (either the leader or a group member).

Yale Youth Ministry Institute