It is fascinating to see the part women had in the life of God’s Son during His third of a century on this planet. We all know of His arrival in the body of a young virgin and of the encouragement that Elizabeth and Anna gave to her at that time (cf. Luke 1:36-45, 2:36-38).
Then, for 30 years, Joseph and His mother had authority over Jesus (cf. Luke 2:51, Matt. 13:55). Mary suffered much shame in that notorious town of Nazareth for having a son by an unknown father (cf. John 1:46, 8:41, 8:48).
During the three years of His public ministry in Israel, the Savior cured women who were ailing (cf. Matt. 8:14-15, 9:20-22), raised one from the dead (cf. Matt. 9:18-26) and highly praised one for her sacrificial giving (cf. Luke. 21:1-4). He also reached out to “a woman of Samaria” (John 4:7ff.) and to “a woman of Canaan” (Matt. 15:22) in the land of Tyre and Sidon, concerning whom He said: “Great is your faith!” (Matt. 15:28).
Much if not most of the finances that our Lord and His apostles needed came from women who were thankful for his ministry in their own lives (cf. Luke 8:1-3). Also, Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus, provided rare hospitality and devotion to Him at Bethany, near Jerusalem (cf. Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-45,12:1-8).
Finally, when the Lord Jesus was betrayed by Judas and abandoned by the other disciples (cf. Matt. 26:47-56), it was women who stayed by our Savior as He was crucified (cf. Matt. 27:55-56, Mark 15:40-41). The one named last, Salome, was a sister of Jesus’ mother and the mother of the apostles James and John. Then the apostle John returned to Jesus with these four women (cf. Jn. 19:25-27). Amazing! Of all His disciples, only one man showed such devotion to the end—and four women!
Even more amazing, if possible, is the record of what women did when Jesus died and rose again. When Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus buried the body of Jesus in a special tomb (cf. John 19:38-42), “the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid” (Luke 23:55).
“And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary [“the mother of James the Less and of Joses” (Mark 15:40)], sitting opposite the tomb” (Matt. 27:61). Reverently and lovingly, “They returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils” (Luke 23:56), fulfilling what Mary of Bethany had done when she anointed Jesus’ feet in anticipation of “the day of My burial” (John 12:7).
Then, early on Resurrection Sunday, these women brought the spices they had purchased to “anoint Him…. But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large” (Mark 16:1, 16:4). But the body of the Lord Jesus was missing! Two angels appeared and told them the most astounding of all facts: “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (Matt. 28:6).
But how was His resurrection in a glorified body to be made known to the human race? Not by angels but, first of all, by believing women!
Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. (Luke 24:9, 10)
So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.” (Matt. 28:8-10)
Was their report enthusiastically welcomed by the apostles? No! “Their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them” (Luke 24:11). This is a major emphasis in the history of Christ’s resurrection. The apostles were not expecting, anticipating or hoping for His resurrection. Some have insisted that they were just hallucinating when they claimed to have seen Him alive again. No! These men were totally transformed from frail and feeble doubters into fervent evangelists because of the One whom they actually saw! Under the threat of death, they were now willing to say: “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20; cf. 5:29).
The apostles, like most Jews at that time, did not have high respect for the witness of women. Josephus, the Jewish historian, stated: “Let not the testimony of women be admitted…” (Antiquities 4.8.15). But God‘s perspective was different (cf. Acts 18:24-26, Rom. 16:1-6, and 2 Tim. 1:5). If someone simply invented the glorious resurrection of Jesus, he would never have chosen women to be the first witnesses. That is one of the many ways God has confirmed the absolute truth of five—not just two—historians: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Paul.
In spite of all that our Lord had said about His coming resurrection (cf. Matt. 16:21, 17:9, 17:23, 20:19; Jn. 2:19), the apostles did not believe this could happen. And in spite of the urgent testimony of several godly women that it did happen, they refused to believe. But today, millions of women have something those women did not have—the completed Bible!
Dear woman, today you too can know Him, and you can have a vital ministry under God wherever He has placed you. This is first in your home, humbly recognizing the leadership of your father or husband (Eph. 6:1-3, Titus 2:5, 1 Pet. 3:1-7), and also in your church, showing respect to your godly pastor (1 Tim. 2:11, Heb. 13:17). Then, you can help people around the world to believe in our glorified Savior, as revealed in His infallible Word.
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17).
Have a blessed and meaningful Easter Sunday!
Dr. John C. Whitcomb is heard weekly as the Bible teacher on Encounter God’s Truth, a radio and Internet broadcast outreach of Whitcomb Ministries, Inc. He has been a professor of Old Testament and theology for more than 60 years and is widely recognized as a leading Biblical scholar. The book he coauthored with the late Dr. Henry Morris in 1961, The Genesis Flood, has been credited as one of the major catalysts for the modern Biblical creationism movement. Dr. Whitcomb’s broadcasts, sermons, lectures and writings are available at SermonAudio.com/Whitcomb. To receive the very latest on his ministry, join Facebook.com/WhitcombMinistries.