And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things. Luke 23:49
We’re continuing our series on Easter at a distance. Some are at a distance by choice. Others because of circumstances. Today, we’ll consider a group of women. Chasing down some cross references in Luke 8:2-3 and John 19:25-26, we can get a few of their names– Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Clopas, Joanna, Susanna. There may have been more. These women believed Jesus early in His ministry. They supported Him financially and they even traveled with Him. In first century Palestine, this was scandalous. Jesus wasn’t scandalized. He welcomed them.
Now, here they are, openly, even boldly, identifying with Jesus. Earlier in the day they stood at the foot of the cross with John. By the end of the day they have withdrawn some distance. Perhaps the unnatural darkness was frightening. Perhaps the mocking of the crowd was too hard to listen to. Perhaps the intense suffering of Jesus, whom they loved, was too much to witness. But they couldn’t leave.
In verse 55, these same women follow Joseph of Arimathea and note where Jesus’s body is buried. They make all the preparations and plan to return as soon as possible after the Sabbath to properly anoint His body. Because of that commitment to serve Jesus however they could, they were the first witnesses to the resurrection.
What can we take away from their example?
Piecing together the identities of the women, John MacArthur points out that the unmarried, the married, are the mothers are included. Women at all stages, from all backgrounds and experiences were bound together by their devotion to Christ. We must ensure that those of different backgrounds, with different life experiences are all welcome in the Body of Christ. We too, are bound together by our devotion to Him.
Among the hateful, bloodthirsty mob and the callous Roman soldiers, this group of women were the only ones there loyal to Jesus. No matter how difficult, how painful, or even how dangerous it got, they didn’t leave.
We live in a world that is hateful toward Jesus Christ and His followers. For some the best case scenario is callousness. It seems the fears and pressures of the pandemic have sharpened those feelings. We cannot allow the attitudes of others to weaken our loyalty to Christ, no matter how ugly it gets.
Finally, these women weren’t done. The seized the next opportunity to show honor and respect to Jesus in properly preparing His body for burial. Likewise, we need to be aware and sensitive so we don’t miss our chances. Sometimes honoring Christ is accomplished serving others. Sometimes, it means spending quiet time in worship. Sometimes, it is taking a stand. Sometimes it is a testimony of how Jesus changed your life. Make all the preparations you can now, then walk on through when the door opens.
The women at the cross are beautiful examples of Jesus followers. Let’s learn from them.