“Many women were there, watching from a distance.” Matthew 27:55
These women stood and witnessed the gruesome scene taking place at Golgotha, just outside the city of Jerusalem. They watched Jesus refuse the narcotic-laden drink given to prisoners to deaden pain before crucifixion. They saw the soldiers nail Jesus to a cross, and divide up His clothes between them, gambling over His best garment. They read the accusation against Him, written out and placed above His head. They surveyed the criminals crucified with Jesus, the leaders and teachers of the religious Law, and other people who passed by mocking and making fun of Him, shouting insults and taunts at Him. They observed Jesus say something to His mother Mary, and to His disciple John, as they stood closer to Him on the cross. They noticed the sky became dark, for many hours. Then Jesus shouted out “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?” and they watched the commotion – someone scurried away and grabbed a sponge, filled it with a liquid, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. But it was over. Jesus breathed His last and died. Matthew 27:32-50
Of these many women, we are only given the names of a few: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and Salome. We know very little about these women, but we know they were loyal to Jesus. They had come with Him to Jerusalem from Galilee. They knew Jesus from His teaching and the great works He had done. He had taught about the Kingdom of God. He had shown God’s power and authority in His actions: controlling nature, healing people from disease, and performing exorcisms. Jesus had transformed Mary Magdalene’s life when He cured her of evil spirits. Luke 8:1-2
These women, along with Jesus’ twelve disciples, accompanied Jesus during His work in Galilee and beyond, taking care of His needs and supporting Him out of their own means. Luke 8:1-3 Their presence at Golgotha was to continue to show Him care and attentiveness – to prepare His body for burial as customary in the Jewish religion.
The crowds that had gladly followed Jesus in Galilee and Jerusalem had forsaken Him. With Jesus’ crucifixion, His flourishing leadership now appeared a failure. But these women remained quietly faithful. They did not turn their back on Jesus. They continued to be committed to Him. And their faithfulness was profoundly rewarded. Jesus chose these women over everyone else to reveal that He was alive again and had defeated death. He met with them and spoke to them. They touched Him. And He gave them the task of telling others this wonderful news. Matthew 28:1-10
At an earlier time during His mission, Jesus spoke these words to a woman named Martha. He said to her: “I am the one who raises the dead to life! Everyone who has faith in me will live, even if they die. And everyone who lives because of faith in me will never really die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 CEV Jesus speaks these words to us, too.
Even if, as believers of Jesus Christ, we feel we stand at a distance this Easter observing the events, or with only a few who are faithful to Jesus, know that loyalty to Jesus Christ is rewarded. We share with these women, standing at the cross, in their faithfulness; and, with them, we will be filled with joy.