Some were mentioned by name.
Others were never identified, but throughout the life of Jesus, we learn that there were “certain women” who traveled with Jesus, who welcomed Him when he needed a meal or a place to stay, who “provided for Him out of their means.” It is significant that there is no record in Scripture of any of these women flagging in their loyalty, denying Jesus, or abandoning Him when the chips were down. A group of them were present at the cross, and then, without even realizing the significance of their actions at the time, certain women showed up at the tomb and bore witness to the resurrected Christ.
It was clear that God had chosen them to be there.
Liz Curtis Higgs honors The Women of Easter with her carefully constructed re-telling of the final weeks of Jesus’ life. Liz focuses on Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth, and Mary Magdalene, but also shares the stories of other women as they meander across history’s stage. Rather than lifting her protagonists out of the story one by one with three distinct bios, she considers them in context as they interact with each other, with Jesus, and with other major players within the narrative arc of Scripture.
With her characteristic humor, insight, and thorough research, Liz shares powerful wisdom from the lives of first-century women that (if we let it!) will impact the way we follow Christ in the 21st century, because, the truth is that you can spot a Woman of Easter by the way she lives:
Women of Easter are transformed by seeking what is “needful.”
Mary of Bethany understood that there is a time for bustling around and being productive — and there is a time for quietly listening. Big Sister Martha must have eventually absorbed some of that lesson along the way, because when their brother Lazarus died, “she who served the food also dished out the truth: “It is for Your coming, [Jesus,] that the world has waited.” God had chosen one of His faithful women to make the bold proclamation that Jesus’ decisive “I am” was a revelation of His identity. Martha’s response was a resounding, “Yes, I see that YOU ARE!”
Women of Easter recognize that Jesus endured the cross because we were “the joy set before Him.”
Mary of Bethany understood that when she anointed Jesus’ feet with valuable oil, she was performing an act of worship. John 12 informs us that “Martha served” that day, and so together, the sisters showed up and met a need in preparation for Jesus’ future act of redemption which, at the time, they could have only dimly understood.
All our worship and all our acts of righteousness flow from the cross. Just as Jesus took joy in the small gift of a widow, He sees our small gifts, and He rejoices, calling them “good.”
Women of Easter know when to stand back and watch Jesus at work.
Mary of Nazareth (Jesus’ mother) shows up in quiet maturity at the Wedding in Cana, and she set the stage for her Son to perform the first of many signs “through which He revealed His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.” Scripture does not record Jesus saying, “Thanks, mum!” but actions speak louder than words, for while He was hanging on the cross in agony, He made provision for her future by asking John to take her into his home.
While four soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ clothing, four women stood with Him in quiet support: Mary, Mary’s sister (possibly Salome?), Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. These women were standing on a risky piece of real estate, for the Romans were not above inflicting the same terrible punishment upon families of an enemy of the state who was being crucified. With Jesus’ feet only about a yard above the ground, these women were witnessing His suffering close by — and even so, Jesus was utterly alone in His anguish. It could not have been an easy vigil for these brave women, but they kept watch while Jesus shook hell’s gates.
Women of Easter stay close to Jesus even when hope seems gone.
While there is no Scriptural evidence that Mary Magdalene was actually a harlot, the Bible does inform us that Jesus cast seven demons out of her. Her background is . . . challenging, perhaps; nonetheless, she “is mentioned by name fourteen times across all four gospel accounts.” Loyal, fearless, and willing to do whatever she needed to do to support her beloved Teacher, Mary Magdalene showed up at the garden tomb, not really sure how she was going to achieve her goal of rolling away a huge stone in order to attend to Jesus’ body. My take-away from this is that when we show up for the impossible, we might be surprised at how God takes care of the details.
Women of Easter realize that it’s all about relationship.
Our first-century sisters didn’t realize that they were going to be eye-witnesses to the most important event in history. They came to the tomb to attend to the dead body of a much-loved friend/relative and found a living, breathing Savior! Then, having been commissioned by the risen Christ to share the good news, Mary Magdalene trumpeted the truth that changes everything: “I have seen the Lord!”
Liz shares the encouraging truth that even the very first Easter was not a picture perfect affair. No. It was “full of disbelief, fear, and confusion” as even Jesus’ closest disciples struggled to absorb the truth.
Likewise, with our Easter bonnets askew and our Resurrection Sunday dinner menus still up in the air, we are invited to come, by faith, to the empty tomb. We are invited to rejoice, and we have been charged with the privilege of sharing the good news. By faith, we, too, are The Women of Easter.
This book was provided by the publisher through Blogging for Books in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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