As Women of the Resurrection, we must be true to our part in the story: “… And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead … remember what I have told you. Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers … ” the account of Matthew.
I have spent the last few weeks reading along with the IF: Equip Easter study passages. Along the way I have been particularly impressed to note the women in the story. The women who followed Jesus at a time when it was certainly unconventional, if not heretical, for to be included in the company or under the teaching of a religious leader, a man designated as “Rabbi”. But oh how this Rabbi turned everything around!
“When referring to the earliest followers of Jesus, the Gospel writers often speak of two groups of disciples: the Twelve and the Women. The Twelve refer to the twelve Jewish men chosen by Jesus to be his closest companions and first apostles, symbolic of the twelve tribes of Israel. The Women refer to an unspecified number of female disciples who also followed Jesus, welcoming him into their homes, financing his ministry, and often teaching the Twelve through their acts of faithfulness and love. Just as Jesus predicted, most of the Twelve abandoned him at his death (John 16:32). But the women remained by his side—through his death, burial, and resurrection.” ~~ Rachel Held Evans.
Among the stories of women sprinkled throughout the pages of the Bible, it is in the radical account of the Resurrection that we see how Jesus valued women in His ultimate redemption story. And we can find some notable nuggets of biblical leadership principles for women.
1. Women who lead biblically and boldly can expect to be criticized — especially by people who misunderstand our motives and devotion. It comes with the territory. However, we cannot let the criticism of others dissuade us from doing what the Lord has impressed upon us to do in His name and for His glory. Notice the woman who anointed Jesus with precious oil, pouring out an alabaster jar, and demonstrating through this ceremonial act of worship her devotion and perhaps acknowledgement of Jesus’ coming death. Jesus says of this woman, after the others condemn this act, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached … this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” Mark 14. Jesus upheld and defended this woman and her bold act of devotion.
2. Women who lead biblically are committed to walk, stay, watch, and wait. All the gospels consistently mention specific women, and others who remain nameless, but who had been following Jesus throughout his ministry. Mary Magdalene, Mary, mother of James and Joseph, Salome, mother of James and John, (a.k.a. as “the sons of Zebedee”), and Joanna, a Jewish woman of means, are all mentioned in varying gospel accounts of women who stuck with Jesus. They had walked along with Jesus and heard His teaching, they stayed and watched as the tomb was covered. They went out after Sabbath was over and purchased burial spices so he would be properly anointed for burial. They were always thinking about how to serve this Savior — this man — who had revolutionized their lives. Their hearts never left Him and while they waited, their devotion never wavered. It is glaringly obvious that the men are not mentioned in these scenes, and we trust it is because they were afraid for their lives. Women who lead must be ready to walk, to stay, to watch, and to wait. Yes. It was Friday. Then Saturday. But SUNDAY CHANGED EVERYTHING!
3. Women who lead biblically are entrusted with proclaiming truth and the radical good news of Jesus’ victory over death to a world that desperately needs to hear it! The redeeming of Eve and her daughters has finally come. “Far from being easily deceived, women were the first to make the connection between Christ’s teachings from Scripture and his resurrection, and the first to believe these teachings when they mattered the most. That Christ ushered in this new era of life and liberation in the presence of women, and that he sent them out as the first witnesses of the complete gospel story, is perhaps the boldest, most overt affirmation of their equality in his kingdom that Jesus ever delivered.” ~~ Rachel Held Evans. The beloved disciple John records this account: “Mary!” Jesus said, “… go find my brothers and tell them … Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I Have Seen the Lord!” Then she gave them His message.” Jesus calls us by name, he gives us a task, and he charges us to complete the task.
4. Women who lead biblically and boldly stay true to God’s purpose for their part in the story. What if these women had stayed afraid? Had cowered and hid out of fear? Had kept the story to themselves? What if they hadn’t done exactly what Jesus told them to do? Funny thing is, they did exactly what Jesus told them to do, and no one believed them!! “And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead. The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with GREAT JOY and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. And AS THEY WENT, Jesus met them and greeted them. They ran to him and worshiped him. Jesus said, “GO. Tell my brothers … “ Matthew 28. Mark and Luke both give accounts of the women telling the disciples exactly what Jesus told them to, and they didn’t believe them. “But when she told the disciples Jesus was alive and she had seen him, they didn’t believe her.” “The story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it.” But guess what. The women didn’t let that keep them from obeying their Savior and following through on the mission He had specifically given them to do. They did it anyway. They didn’t let it sway them from their conviction and belief.
Like Mary, Salome, Joanna, and the women who followed wholeheartedly after Christ, we can expect to encounter criticism. We must be committed to walk, to stay, to watch, and to wait. We must receive the entrusting of His message of Good News and redemption and proclaim it boldly. And we mustn’t relinquish our part in the story. Jesus calls us by name. He gives us a mission and a message. And He has charged us with completing our mission. It doesn’t matter who believes us or not — there is no place for fear — for remaining comfortable and secure in our religious havens. Yes — it really is up to us to change the world!! As did the Marys, Joanna, Salome, and all the other women who radically lived out their part in the story, let us stand beside and challenge one another dear sisters, to live as Resurrection Women!!