A friend loveth at all times… Proverbs 17:17
Jesus had a lot of friends, but none as loyal and steadfast as the women. During this Easter season, as we consider His supreme sacrifice, the image of His suffering in the final days and His death on the cross remain as vivid in my mind as the horrific scenes from the movie The Passion of the Christ.
As I read again in the gospels of His suffering and death, I see a fact often overlooked – the women never leave Him. No matter what happens, no matter how dangerous it is for them to be known as His followers, no matter how horrible His suffering and death is to look upon, they remain.
As Jesus carried the cross upon His scourged and bloody back through the Via Dolorosa, up the path leading to Golgatha, the women were there and He paused long enough to speak to them.
27. And there followed Him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented Him.
28. But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.
29. For, behold, the days are coming, the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.
30. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.
31. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry? (Luke 23:27-31)
At the moment when Jesus died, there was a massive earthquake and the sky became black, people were quaking and running away in fear but the women did not leave.
55. And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto Him:
56. Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children. (Matthew 27:55-56)
After the Roman soldier pierced His side with a sword to ensure He was dead, His body was taken down and given to Joseph of Arimathea for burial. The women followed to the tomb.
57. When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple.
58. He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.
59. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth.
60. And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher, and departed.
61. And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulcher. (Matthew 27:57-61)
After the tomb was sealed to make certain the followers of Jesus could not steal His body, Roman soldiers were stationed to guard the tomb. But at the breaking of daylight, who got up to go to the tomb of Christ? The women.
In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. Matthew 28:1
Despite their fears, despite the danger, the women stepped out into the early morning air and made their way to the tomb of Jesus. And when they arrived at the tomb, the earth began to shake.
2. And behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
3. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
4. And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
5. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
6. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said, Come, see the place where the Lord lay. (Matthew 28:2-6)
The brave, well-trained Roman soldiers fainted in fear of the angel but the women did not. At the tomb of the Lord, they showed no fear. Jesus was gone, just as He told them and just as they expected.
The angel did not roll the stone away to allow the Lord to leave, Jesus was already gone.
He didn’t need an angel to move the stone. He whose hand hung the sun, moon and stars, who created the earth He walked upon at the sound of His voice. He who raised the dead, commanded the storm to cease, He who walked upon the water and gave sight to the blind did not need the assistance of an angel to leave the tomb. The stone was rolled away to allow the women inside.
The angel commanded the women to go and tell the disciples. The women were to go and tell the men. The women were to be the first to carry the gospel message of the resurrected Savior.
I can just imagine these two women running, breathless, down the dusty road into the city of Jerusalem when suddenly, He appeared before them.
9. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshiped Him. (Matthew 28:9)
They were the first to see Him. Oh, how He must have loved them!
The women, who usually are just background characters, serving the food and tidying up after the men, go largely unnoticed by most. But not Jesus. He noticed them. He cared for them, and He honored the women by showing Himself to them first…before the disciples, whom He loved beyond all measure…He appeared to the women.
He saw them beside the road as He carried the cross, He saw them never leaving or turning away as He suffered and died, He saw them beside the tomb as His broken body was laid inside, and He saw them in the early dawn walking in the darkness to the place where His body had been laid.
Jesus saw the women then and He sees us today.
My friend, have you remained with Jesus? Are you clinging to His nail-scarred feet, just as the two Marys, in humble worship and awe of His holiness? Or have you turned away, busy with your life, bored with the Bible and the whole story within its pages?
If the Holy Spirit is dealing with your heart today, won’t you return? Come back to the cross where forgiveness, mercy and grace flows free. Repent of your sins and you will find Jesus waits for you. Don’t wait another moment.
Jesus issued a final warning the Church at Ephesus in Revelation 2. Just as the warning applied to the Ephesians, it applies to you.
4. I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works: or else I will come unto thee quickly and will remove thy candlestick out his place, except thou repent.
May you be richly blessed today, my friends, and if I don’t meet you again here, I hope to meet you over there!