The Women of Easter

In the story of Jesus’ passion walk through the streets, his punishments, his legal trials, illegal trials, to the cross and beyond to the grave and the resurrection, women played a significant role in the Easter story. Women were depicted as the only courageously strong people who cared deeply for Jesus and were repeatedly not afraid to show it, unlike most of Jesus’ other disciples who hid and denied him. 

       In, the writer describes the role of women during the first Easter, “There is no reason to doubt or diminish the courage and strength of these devoted followers of Christ. However, the significance of the women at the cross and subsequent resurrection says far more about the heart of Christ to include women in His ministry than we often realize.

Some have erroneously concluded that women didn’t play a prominent role in the gospel and were therefore not as important to Jesus as His male disciples. This is simply not true. And if anyone wants to argue that God somehow views women as insignificant, weak, or unimportant, let us not forget that:” and he lists many times the women were important to the Easter story.[1]

       So let’s look at those and other ways the women were important in the first Easter.  In the passion of Christ, that is, the walk of Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem before his crucifixion, the women were said to be following behind him, lamenting.  They would probably have been singing the 22nd Psalm, the Psalm of Lament that takes the reader through the narrative of the crucifixion scene.  The Bible clearly tells us in Luke 23 that the women followed behind Jesus wailing and beating their breasts with their fists to show agony and sadness.   They had begun this lament days prior, one anointing his head and feet with oil as if she were readying him for his burial.  The women were the ones who believed him that he was going to be killed and then rise from the grave.

       When Jesus was on trial and brought before Pontius Pilate, it was Pilate’s wife who begged her husband not to give the order to execute Jesus.  She had had a dream, and she told Pilate about it, asking him to show mercy and compassion.  Her name was Claudia, and she had known the same shame Jesus had known as far as being an illegitimate child. Her father Tiberius had disowned her at birth, and Pilate married her.  To society she had no voice or power.  But in her marriage, she spoke truth to power and spoke up for the life of Jesus.

       This of course fell on deaf ears, but women continued to show up and be present for Jesus.  During the crucifixion the women were there the Bible says “providing for him” and “”standing at a distance” or “at his feet.”  According to Luke 23, after Jesus’ death, the women, the two Marys and Joanna, had gone home to prepare to anoint the body on the third day.  They first went early to visit the tomb, I’m sure hoping to see an empty tomb.  But instead they saw how his body was laid out, so they saw him dead in the tomb, and went home to get these essential oils and spices to help the body not to smell too odiferous. When they came back, his body was gone.  They then were the first to find and see the risen Jesus, the first to hear his voice, were the first to touch him, and were told by him to go and tell the “Other” disciples because Jesus included the women when he counted his followers.  The women created an example for the men involved in showing mercy, compassion, strength, trust, empathy, and dedication in the face of powerful and dangerous people, the angry Jewish hierarchy and the Roman occupancy.

              Surely, the empowerment of women that is recorded in the Gospels, especially through Jesus’ death and resurrection, is something that I’m sure we would like to continue to do for our society’s good. It is the obvious Christlike thing to do to empower women. As the writings of Easter give women a place of honor and respect, so should we. As they were called on to step up and speak out, or step up and serve, we women should continue to show up in the face of any oppressive situations and do like they did, anything in our power to serve the embodiment of love. Maybe our lives can better reflect the change made by this truth, that it was women who most resembled dedicated love and courage during the Easter drama.  Maybe knowing this will help us to listen more closely to the women we hear, perhaps with more attentive ears, listen for their laments, or listen to their dreams, or listen to the way their actions speak of love and devotion, their voices entrusted with the truth. As his death and resurrection empowered the roles and voices of women, so should we. 



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