In a culture that was often dismissive and seldom encouraging to women, these ladies took their place alongside the men, valued in the eyes of Jesus, respected, validated, and encouraged in their devotion to Him.
They supported His ministry out of their own means, attended to His needs, and stayed at His side as Jesus endured the torture of the cross. In every gospel account, the women are identified at the cross and at the tomb.
Women on Mission with Jesus
I can only imagine how long the Sabbath seemed, as they waited in physical rest but surely emotional unease for the dawn of Sunday. Several different women are identified at the tomb that day throughout the gospel accounts, each of them longing to be by His side and care for His body.
“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.”Matthew 28:1-4, NIV 84
We know from Mark’s gospel that the women were there to anoint Jesus’ body with spices. They set out while it was still dark and arrived at the tomb just at dawn only to find the stone rolled away and an angel there, the soldiers passed out cold.
“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: “He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.” Now I have told you.'”Matthew 28:5-7
Come and see the place where he lay. Come close. Look for yourselves. See the evidence. He is not here. His Word is true. Now go and tell.
These were the women who had chosen to take up their cross and follow Him. These were the women who weren’t afraid to stay at the cross when others fled. These were the women who devoted themselves to serving Jesus.
And these were the women He entrusted to carry the good news to others.
Coming and Going
I have often said that being on mission with Jesus is all about coming and going. We come into the secret place with Him in worship, prayer, and Bible study. We come in and close the door and sit with Him and feed on His Word.
Then we open the door and go out into the world to share the love and truth and grace that He has shown us.
When Jesus touches and changes our lives, we can’t help but want to tell others what He has done for us.
Imagine how His mother Mary’s life was changed–a virgin, betrothed to Joseph, scandalized by pregnancy, yet entrusted to raise up the Son of God in her home.
Mary Magdalene, possessed by not one, but seven demons, then set free by the power and compassion of the Lord.
Joanna, wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Salome, wife of Zebedee and mother of James and John; the woman at the well; the woman caught in adultery; the woman with the issue of blood; Mary and Martha–so many women whose lives were changed by the Savior.
Jesus defied the cultural influences that dismissed women to the level of second-class citizens. According to their man-made rules, women were not allowed to touch the Torah, to worship in the temple (only in the women’s court), or to speak to a man in public.
They weren’t considered worth educating, and their testimony was not considered valid. Yet Jesus chose to reveal His resurrection first to women, sending them to testify to the others.
On Mission with Jesus
Where Eve once stood in a garden, defying the command of God and taking on the consequences of that disobedience, Mary Magdalene now stood in another garden and received the redemption of Jesus–not only saved but now commissioned to go and bear fruit.
“Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”‘”John 20:17
Jesus could have first revealed Himself to Peter, James, or John. If the entire gospel is a cleverly fabricated story, the writers surely would have designed a narrative that conformed to the cultural expectations of the day.
But they didn’t and it isn’t.
Instead what we read is the astonishing detail and remarkable account of Jesus revealing the true heart of God for women, the role He created us for when we were made in His image and commissioned to be fruitful and multiply.
In Jesus’ revelation to the women at the tomb, we see redemption, restoration, and a reversal of the stain of sin in the first garden.
“In him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”Ephesians 1:7
We were not created to overpower or usurp the role of men. We were created to serve alongside them in carrying the gospel to the world.
“So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. ‘Greetings,’ he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do no be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.'”Matthew 28:8-10
My sister in Christ, don’t be afraid to come and go. Come close and worship Him. You are not second rate in Jesus’ eyes. Then go and tell. You’ve been empowered by the One who reigns over all.