In this pic, Jesus looks like He’s playing hide-and-seek with the women.
I wanted to prepare this blog post sooner, but time is not on my side lately. My family could definitely use your prayer. Gosh, I could use your prayers. However, better late than never, here’s the follow up to “The Women of the Cross“.
But I thought both my male and female readers might like a peek at the lesson, which I’m adapting into a post. If you would like a copy of the short study for personal or group use, just hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Women of the Resurrection
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a crucial cornerstone of the Christian faith, and also what separates Christianity from other major religions that follow His teachings. Jesus’ resurrection proves that He was not only the Son of God, but the victor over death. And who were the first to encounter the Risen Lord? The women who followed Jesus!
The accounts of Jesus’ resurrection can be found in Matthew 28: 1-10; Mark 16: 1-11; Luke 24: 1-12; and John 20: 1-18.
Who are the women of the resurrection?
Interestingly, many of the women present at Jesus’ crucifixion were also the women who awoke early Sunday morning after Sabbath had passed to care for Jesus’ body. According to Old Testament law, if someone touched a dead body, then he or she was considered unclean, so care of bodies was considered a woman’s work (of course).
However, these women did not care about clean or unclean. They simply wanted to show their love for this man, who had treated them with respect and kindness, who had allowed them to sit at His feet—they had never met a man like Jesus.
Each Gospel has a different account of what women were present, what happened, and what was said. It is important to note that ancient scribes were not obsessed with details like we are today. They were more concerned with telling the story, so we definitely have to approach Scripture with our eyes on the culture. Here’s a rundown of each Gospel.
Matthew: Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” find empty tomb and angel, also Jesus appears to these women.
Mark: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Salome encounter an angel and Mary Magdalene first sees Jesus.
Luke: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and others see angels and report to disciples.
John: Mary Magdalene (and possibly other women because she says “we”). But in this gospel, Mary Magdalene is the first to encounter the risen Jesus.
If you read The Women of the Cross, then you’ve already “met” most of these women. But just in case you haven’t had the chance to read that incredibly compelling post, let me introduce you to the women of the resurrection. Meet Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’ most devoted followers after He drove seven demons from her body. And, no, they were not married or sexually involved. That’s just gross.
Curiously, Mary mother of Jesus isn’t mention in any of these accounts…or is she? Out of respect, Mary was probably referred to as “Mary mother of James” (Note: It was this James, Jesus’ half-brother, who went on to write the book of James in the New Testament). It was a cultural practice not to indicate Mary as Jesus’ mother due to His crucifixion. Remember that at the cross, she is called “Mary Mother of James and Joses” and only directly addressed in John. Also, since the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) mention Mary mother of James or “the other Mary,” it is assumed that both refer to Mary mother of Jesus. She was His earthly mother—how could she stay away?
Mark mentions Salome, who was the mother of disciples James and John while Luke also adds Joanna, a woman who worked to financially support and care for Jesus and the gang while they traveled. Since it was early the day after Sabbath and Jews were not permitted to work or travel on Sabbath, we can assume that Joanna was in town for the crucifixion, and I’m fairly certain she was one of the “other women” who witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion. If so, then all the women of the resurrection were also all women who witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion. They were a devoted lot.
Mary Magdalene Sees Him First
Each Gospel says that Mary Magdalene was the first to see the risen Savior. Why, out of all the people who followed Jesus, did she see Him first? Really, we can only guess. Perhaps she was the one who needed Him most. When she learned Jesus’ body was missing, she was ready to go to the ends of the earth to retrieve it. She was distraught and crying when she encounters Jesus, who she mistakes for the gardener.
“They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they have put Him,” she weeps. But when that “gardener” says her name, she immediately knows it is Jesus (John 20:16).
“Rabboni!” Mary exclaims, which is a very personal greeting meaning “my teacher.” Most people would have nothing to do with a former demoniac, much less teach one. But Jesus changed Mary’s life, and now He had changed her eternity.
Why did Jesus appear to women first?
The simple and obvious explanation is this—because they were there. But didn’t Peter and John also run out to the empty tomb? Why didn’t Jesus appear to them? Hmm…interesting.
My theory (and this is my theory) is that Jesus is making good on God’s promise all the way back in Genesis 3:15. After Adam and Eve do the Big No-No, God pronounces judgment on them. Yet in His judgment, there’s a promise of salvation. In Genesis 3:15 God says to the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” On Calvary, the ancient serpent that is Satan struck Christ’s heel, but in the resurrection (and the yet-to-come Battle of Armageddon), Jesus will crush that serpent’s head.
So, with that information, it would seem that Jesus is “redeeming Eve.” It’s as if He is saying, “Remember that promise in Genesis? Well, here I am! You are redeemed, daughter of Eve, you are redeemed because of Me.” Since Eve was the first to partake of the apple, perhaps in a subtle way, her daughters are first to know of the redemption.
Then again, there’s the small problem that the disciples who say the empty tomb didn’t believe…but the women did. Before you go off and tell me it’s because they saw Jesus, let me point you to Mark 24:7-8. The women remembered His words and believe! However, the disciples don’t believe their stories (Mark 16:11, Luke 24:11).
Still, in the end, everyone believes and the Gospel message goes forward. And those women, well, as first witnesses their testimony wouldn’t really matter in a court of law. Unless there were three women, which is interesting, because the Mark and Luke mention at least three women in their Gospels, making the women viable first witnesses to the resurrection.
These women never met a man like Jesus, who tore the veil, so their shame would be lifted. Finally, Eve’s sin no longer held them captive, though they still faced the consequences of her choice. But now they could find wholeness and redemption through God’s promise of Jesus Christ.
I love comments, so here are some questions you can answer–why do you think Jesus first appeared to women? Why didn’t the men believe but the women did?