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Apr14FriApril 14, 2017 by TWR Canada Women's Ministry Team
At Easter every year, we revisit the account of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. We hear about all the men in the story. Most retellings include that it was the women who had come to prepare the body who discovered his tomb was empty and were sent to tell the disciples of the miracle, but there’s more to the story.
Let’s back up a few hours in the story to the cross…
Now, we know some of the women who were in the crowd that day at the foot of the cross. The male disciples had mostly fled, fearing for their own safety. The only male disciple we know was there with the women was John, the beloved disciple, because Jesus instructed him to care for his mother. While the Gospel accounts name a small number of women, it’s clear more than 5 women stayed to support Christ in those final hours.
• Mary Magdalene (possessed by 7 demons and freed by Jesus)
• The Other Mary - Mary the mother of Joseph and the apostle James (known as James the lesser). She is sometimes referred to as the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
• Salome, also referred to as the mother of the sons of Zebedee (the apostles James and John). She is sometimes referred to as the cousin of Mary, mother of Jesus.
• Joanna was a noblewoman (her husband worked in the court of Herod). Jesus healed her of ‘evil spirits and infirmities’ but we’re never told exactly what illness she suffered from.
• Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Why Did The Women Stay?
Why did the women stay for the crucifixion? How awful that must have been for these women! Each of them had a very personal connection to Jesus, and it’s probably fair to speculate that the women who aren’t named but were present that day also had a very personal connection to Christ. He had healed some of them, loved them, saw them where they were at. And he was dying a gruesome death, marked and bloody – struggling for each breath, right in front of them.
“You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.” Eleanor Roosevelt
Now, let’s move ahead in the story…
Joseph of Arimathea secured the right to wrap Jesus’ body and place it in a tomb. Matthew tells us Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” sat opposite the shut tomb that night. Pilate didn’t send soldiers until the next morning to guard the tomb. Did those women sit outside the tomb mourning and weeping all night? The text doesn’t tell us how long they sat there, but the denial of what had just happened is evident in their actions.
They would have known the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. They would have heard Jesus speak of rising again after three days, even the Pharisees knew this because that’s why they insisted Pilate send soldiers. Was it possible these two sat outside the tomb wondering, hoping, praying for a miracle? Certainly, they were left trying to understand what had just happened.
They Came Back
As soon as it was light, the day after the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, Salome, and Joanna went to the tomb to prepare the body. How would they open the tomb? How would they convince the soldiers standing guard to let them in? These women had spent months and years following Christ and caring for his physical needs. They would see their job finished and done well. These women were among the most faithful of Christ’s followers.
The women arrive at the tomb and find the soldiers gone and the stone rolled away. An angel appears and delivers the news that Christ indeed has risen from the grave. What joy!
The Faithful Servant Is Sent With Good News To Those In Hiding
Christ appears to Mary Magdalene and sends her to the other apostles to tell them the news. Some scholars have commented that this makes Mary Magdalene the first evangelist, delivering news of the resurrection. Hippolytus of Rome gave Mary Magdalene the title “Apostle to the Apostles”.
While Peter and most of the male disciples were in hiding, the women who stuck around to the bitter end were rewarded for their faithfulness. They stayed for the hard-to-watch stuff, the heartbreaking agony of watching the crucifixion and then returned to see to Jesus’ final physical needs.
The resurrection story shows that women are equal heirs with men (each believer with their own unique role and giftings), that they are worthy of delivering the important news of Christ’s resurrection, and that there’s a reward for those who are faithful. There will be hard and difficult times. We will have to endure things we’d rather turn away from. We will need courage, but Christ sees us where we are, the work we’re doing, and the faithfulness of our daily tasks as well as our faith.
Take heart, sisters. For those steadfastly serving Jesus in the day to day bits of life, know that he does see your sacrifice, tears, and fear. You will be rewarded for finishing well.
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