Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him. ~ Sojourner Truth
Like many of you, I’ve read the Easter passages for decades. In addition, I’ve listened to Good Friday and Easter messages for just as long. Interestingly, I’ve heard a great deal about the 12 disciples, the ones who fled, the ones who betrayed the Lord, the one who remained. However, until recently I guess I’ve skimmed over the women. Heaven knows there haven’t been any sermons about them.
Nevertheless, the life of Jesus bookends with women. It begins with Anna prophesying over Him as an infant and ends with Mary Magdalene proclaiming His resurrection to doubting disciples.
Women Followers of Jesus
Luke 8:1-3, gives us a snapshot of the entourage that followed Jesus. It was extremely unusual for that time period in the Middle Eastern culture for women to be traveling with men. Yet, Jesus welcomed them. Obviously, the women felt safe and valued enough to travel alongside Jesus. Furthermore, some of them financially supported the group.
The Bible portrays an unspecified number of women, few of them named, who were followers or disciples of Jesus. Some of them financed His ministry, probably one of them being Joanna. Why such sacrifice? Because they completely believed in Him and what He taught. They studied His teachings and remained at His side when others left because Jesus wasn’t the triumphal, earthly King they had envisioned.
Why do you think they were so dedicated?
I believe that Jesus treated them like no other man ever had. He loved them fully and unselfishly, expecting nothing in return. He honored them and respected them. Jesus treated them equally. They had never been treated like this. How could they not respond with love and devotion?
By the way, don’t believe that the women were afforded any special protection from persecution by the Romans. They, too, were risking their lives to follow Jesus. The Romans had no qualms about crucifying them as well as men.
The Women of Holy Week
It is easy to dismiss the women of Holy Week, to say their presence at critical moments in the Easter story is inconsequential, holding no significance in modern-day conversations about gender equity in the Church. But I’m not convinced it’s an accident that the first person to declare that Jesus had risen from the dead (to a group of skeptical men!) was a woman. I’m not convinced it’s unremarkable that God chose a woman to anoint the Messiah with oil and a mother to hear his cries from the cross.Rachel Held Evans
Indeed, how has the Church so neatly and consistently minimized the steady, faithful ministry of The Women, also disciples of Jesus, as well as the women of Holy Week? By my own silence and acquiescence I have colluded with them, I confess. May we learn to speak up and speak out when and where we can.
In addition, we often hear in Easter sermons that Jesus was abandoned by everyone…
but He wasn’t…not by the women.
They remained, perhaps from a distance, but they never left Him alone.
55 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.Matthew 27:55-56, ESV
For the next few weeks I’ll write about a few of these women. I hope you’ll join me.