A life of service, faith and courage
It was nine in the morning when they crucified him… Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
Mark 15: 25, 40-41 (NIVUK)
International Women’s Day, on March 8th each year, celebrates the achievements of women around the world. This is then perhaps an appropriate time of the year to acknowledge what the Bible reveals about the positive role women played in the Easter story.
Although not a follower of Jesus, Pontius Pilate’s wife was the only person to have the courage to give words of caution and attest to Jesus’ innocence (Matthew 27:19). However, her warning went unheeded, and Jesus was sentenced to death by crucifixion.
As the header scripture shows, some women served and supported Jesus during his ministry and remained faithful and came up to Jerusalem where they had the courage to be at the crucifixion and witness the painful scene of dereliction that occurred at the cross. John continues that at some stage certain women moved sufficiently near to the cross to hear Jesus’ words: “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing near by, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ ” (John 19:25-26). After his death, when Jesus was laid in a tomb, it was Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph who saw where he was laid. (Mark 15:46-47)
Certain women witnessed the empty tomb: ‘…Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body…on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb…But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.’ (Mark 16:1-4). John adds that Mary Magdalene saw and spoke with the resurrected Jesus and was commissioned by him to, ‘…Go…to my brothers and tell them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’ (John 20:17). Thus, she became the first person to proclaim the good news of the resurrection. In some Christian traditions this role earned her the title as the ‘Apostle to the Apostles’.
These scriptures form part of the testimony the Gospel writers were inspired to record about the courage, service, faithfulness, and perseverance shown by the women followers of Jesus, and they preserve their identity for posterity.
Father, we thank you that you have called both men and women to witness, as you see fit, to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In his name, Amen.
Study by Eddie Marsh
About the writer:
Eddie Marsh attends the Sheffield congregation of Grace Communion International.
Please email the local congregational contact (see below) for information about the Sheffield congregation’s meeting venue and time.
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