RSS

A Closer Look at the Cross: Female Finalists

23 May

The Women at the Cross of Jesus - YouTube

A closer look at the seven women who stood by at the cross

Matthew 27:55-56 Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Jn 19:25-27 25Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, Dear woman, here is your son, 27and to the disciple, Here is your mother. From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

“For in Christ you are all sons of God, through faith.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew or Greek, there is neither slave or free, there is neither male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28).

Until Jesus came on the scene, women were treated as inferior beings.

* In the Mediterranean region and the near East, women were viewed as inferior beings because of the Patriarchal society.

*  In the Greek society women were held as inferior to men and destined only for childbearing.

*  In the Roman society a wife was the property of her husband.

*  In the Jewish societies, women were only sexual beings, servants of their husbands, with limited religious roles.  They were not required to make the annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the feasts. They didn’t go to school where the Torah was taught. They were not allowed to read or recite scriptures.

After Jesus began his ministry, his treatment and acceptance of women caused problems with the Jewish leaders, his apostles, and others who had allowed women to become stereotyped as lower class beings.  The women Jesus met were astonished at his attitude and acceptance of them [Examples: the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (John 4:7-26); the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11)].  Jesus was the original women’s liberator of his day.

It is no wonder then that women became devoted to Jesus and his teachings.  It offered them freedom they never had before.  Several women became disciples of Jesus and supported him in his ministry – Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna and many other unnamed women (Luke 8:2). These women, along with others mentioned in other scriptures – Salome, Mary of Bethany, and Mary the wife of Clopas, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, followed Jesus throughout his ministry to his crucifixion on the cross.

These women not only supported Jesus with their means, but they also stood by Jesus and accompanied him throughout his arrest and trial (Luke 23:39-43) and the crucifixion (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25).

What caused these women to be so dedicated to Jesus and his ministry? The answer, in part, is that they had benefited so greatly from Jesus (some had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities by Jesus) and his teachings (like that of Galatians 3:26-28) that they couldn’t help but want to show their gratitude and love by using their time, talents, and treasury in the support of Jesus’ ministry.

These women could do very little. They couldn’t speak before the Sanhedrin in Jesus’ defense; they couldn’t appeal to Pilate; they couldn’t stand against the crowds; they couldn’t overpower the Roman guards.

But they did what they could. They stayed at the cross when the disciples had not even come; they followed Jesus’ body to the tomb; they prepared spices for his body. Because these women used the opportunities they had, they were the first to witness the resurrection.

God blessed their devotion, initiative, and diligence. As believers, we should take advantage of the opportunities we have and do what we can for Christ.

The phrase ‘Afar off” indicates that some did stand far off, but some stood at the very foot of the cross (John 19:25). Their love ran deep and their devotion and courage clear. They triumphed over fear. They did not fear the enemies of Christ: they triumphed simply because they loved (1 John 4:18).

Some of these people followed Jesus for the wrong reasons.  Some wanted only physical nourishment and were rebuked by Jesus (John 6:22-26).  Others, when they realized what was necessary to follow Jesus, no longer went about with him (John 6:66).  At times even his own apostles denied knowing him (Matthew 26:69-75), fled from his presence (Matthew 26:56) and followed from afar (Matthew 26:58).

However, there was one group who stuck with Jesus throughout his ministry, from beginning to end.  These were the women, we’ll call them “female finalists,” who had totally committed themselves to Jesus and his ministry.  Through thick and thin, good times and bad, these women were always there, ready to assist and help Jesus in any way that they could.  These women deserve a closer look from us today.

Who were these women who stuck with Jesus through thick and thin?  What were their backgrounds, their names, their reason for such devotion to Jesus’ ministry? What is their backgrounds, their names, their reason for such devotion to Jesus’ ministry?  To answer these questions, we must go to the gospel accounts.

Seven women are mentioned in scripture by name as being followers and/or active supporters of Jesus and his ministry:

  1. Mary Magdalene:

This Mary was distinguished from other Marys by her second name. It signified the place of her birth.  Just as Jesus was sometimes called the Nazarene because of the town Nazareth, Mary was called Magdalene because of the town Magdala.  Magdala means “tower or castle” and in the time of Christ was a thriving1 populous town on the coast of Galilee, about three miles from Capernaum.

Dye works and primitive textile factories contributed to the wealth of the community.  It may be that Mary Magdalene’s source of funds from which she supported Jesus’ ministry was somehow derived from these town industries.

Mary Magdalene was one of the women that Jesus healed of evil spirits and infirmities (Luke 8:2).  She was said to have had seven demons cast out from her by Jesus (Mark 16:9, Luke 8:2).  She supported the ministry of Jesus from out of her means (Luke 8:2). She was present at Jesus’ crucifixion, standing afar off with several other women (Matthew 27:56: Mark 15:40; John 19:25).

She was also present at the tomb of Jesus when Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus rolled the stone to the door of Jesus’ tomb (Matthew 27:61; Mark 16:47; John 19:38-42).  She went to the tomb of Jesus after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, and witnessed the great earthquake and the angel rolling the stone away from the tomb of Jesus (Matthew 28:1-2; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10; John 20:1).  Jesus appeared to her as she stood weeping outside the tomb (John 20:11-17).

  1. Joanna

Joanna’s husband was Chuzas, the house-steward of Herod.  As a steward, Chuzas was responsible for the management of Ilerod’s monetary expenditures, a position which would require both intelligence and ability.  This position of importance in all probability afforded both Chuzas and his wife Joanna an excellent income, from which Joanna may have supported the ministry of Jesus.

This Joanna was the wife of Chuzas, Herod’s steward (Luke 8:3). She was one of the women that Jesus healed of evil spirits and infirmities (Luke 8:2).  She supported the ministry of Jesus from out of her means (Luke 8:2).  She went to the tomb of Jesus after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, and witnessed the great earthquake and the angel rolling the stone away from the tomb of Jesus (Matthew 28:1-2; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10).

  1. Salome

Salome was possibly one of Jesus’ earliest female disciples, having ministered to him when he was in Galilee.

This Salome was the wife of Zebedee, the mother of the two apostles James and John, and the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus (John 19:25).  She ministered to Jesus when he was in Galilee (Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 15:40-41).  She sought seats of honor for her sons from Jesus (Matthew 20:20-24; Mark 10:35-40).  She was present at Jesus’ crucifixion, standing afar off with several other women (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25).

She went to the tomb of Jesus after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, and witnessed the great earthquake and the angel rolling the stone away from the tomb of Jesus (Matthew 28:1-2; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10).

  1. Mary of Bethany

This Mary was the Mary that annointed the head of Jesus with an alabaster jar of expensive ointment (pure nard) and wiped his feet with her hair (Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8).  Mary sat at the feet of Jesus when he visited in the house of her sister, Martha (Luke 10:38-42).  Mary also had a brother named Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead (John 11:5-44).  Mary, Martha and Lazarus were among those whom Jesus loved (John 11:5).

  1. Susanna

This Susanna was one of the women that Jesus healed of evil spirits and infirmities (Luke 8:2). She supported the ministry of Jesus from out of her means (Luke 8:2).

  1. Mary, “the other Mary” Scripture References:

This Mary was the wife of Clopas and the mother of the apostle James the younger and Joses (Joseph).

She was present at Jesus’ crucifixion, standing afar off with several other women (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25).  She was also present at the tomb of Jesus when Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus rolled the stone to the door of Jesus’ tomb (Matthew 27:61; Mark 16:47; John 19:38-42).  She went to the tomb of Jesus after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, and witnessed the great earthquake and the angel rolling the stone away from the tomb of Jesus (Matthew 28:1-2; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10).

  1. Mary, the mother of Jesus Scripture References:

Mary was the earthly mother of Jesus (Matthew 1:18,25).  Mary’s husband was Joseph (Matthew 1:18), a carpenter by trade (Mark 6:3).  An angel appears to her and tells her she will conceive (Luke 1:26-38).  Mary visits Elizabeth for three months (Luke 1:39-56).  Mary travels with Joseph to Bethlehem; gives birth while there (Luke 2:1-7).  Mary travels with Joseph to Jerusalem with Jesus, who is now 12 years old (Luke 2:41-42).  She asks Jesus to help at a marriage feast when wine runs out (John 2:1-11).

She went with her sons to the temple to see Jesus but crowds prevented them (Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21).  She was also the mother of four other sons – James, Joses, Judas and Simon – and at least two daughters (Matthew 13:55-56; Mark 6:3).  She was present at Jesus’ crucifixion, standing afar off with several other women (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25).  Her future care was entrusted to the apostle John by Jesus as he hung on the cross (John 19:26-27).  She was present with the 11 apostles in the upper room in Jerusalem after Jesus’ ascension (Acts 1:14).

Additional comments

(Matthew 27:55-56) Women: the courage and love of the women. Note the following phrases.

“Many women”: many were there. When the men fled, many women demonstrated courage.

“Afar off”: some did stand far off, but some stood at the very foot of the cross (John 19:25). Their love ran deep and their devotion and courage clear. They triumphed over fear. They did not fear the enemies of Christ: they triumphed simply because they loved (1 John 4:18).

27:55-56 Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.NRSV There had been many people at the cross who had come only to mock and taunt Jesus or, like the religious leaders, to revel in their apparent victory. Some of Jesus’ faithful followers were at the cross as well. Among the disciples, only John was there, and he recorded in his Gospel in graphic detail the horror he observed. Many women were also there, looking on from a distance, perhaps out of custom or out of respect for the victims.

Some of these women had come from Galilee with Jesus for the Passover. Mary Magdalene was from Magdala, a town near Capernaum in Galilee. She had been released from demon possession by Jesus (Luke 8:2). Another Mary is distinguished (from Mary Magdalene and Mary, Jesus’ mother) by the names of her sons who may have been well known in the early church. The mother of the sons of Zebedee was the mother of the disciples James and John. Her name was Salome (20:20-21), and she was probably the sister of Jesus’ mother. These women had been faithful to Jesus’ ministry, following him and providing for his material needs (see Luke 8:1-3). John wrote that Jesus’ mother, Mary, was present and that, from the cross, Jesus spoke to John about taking care of Mary (John 19:25-27).

These women could do very little. They couldn’t speak before the Sanhedrin in Jesus’ defense; they couldn’t appeal to Pilate; they couldn’t stand against the crowds; they couldn’t overpower the Roman guards. But they did what they could. They stayed at the cross when the disciples had not even come; they followed Jesus’ body to the tomb; they prepared spices for his body. Because these women used the opportunities they had, they were the first to witness the Resurrection. God blessed their devotion, initiative, and diligence. As believers, we should take advantage of the opportunities we have and do what we can for Christ.

Jn 19:25-27 25Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, Dear woman, here is your son, 27and to the disciple, Here is your mother. From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

There is a glaring absence of Jesus’ men at the cross. To our knowledge, John was the only one who showed up. He stands in the midst of a group of women. John mentions four of them while Mark and Matthew mention only three. Of course Mark and Matthew list the women who were there when Jesus died and John lists the women present when Jesus was first crucified. It may be that John and Mary leave right after Jesus speaks to them.

In Jesus’ third recorded statement from the cross, he commits his mother into the care of John, his beloved friend. This makes sense when you understand that Jesus’ “family” consists of faithful believers and Jesus’ half-brothers don’t fit that category until after his resurrection. Furthermore, John is likely Jesus’ cousin (see chart below). Therefore, he is the closest believing relative. John takes her home and gently cares for this dear saint who had a “sword wound” in her soul (Lk 2:35).

John 19:25 Mark 15:40 Matthew 27:56
Mary, Jesus’ mother
Mary’s sister Salome Mother of Zebedee’s sons (i.e., James and John)
Mary, wife of Clopas Mary, mother of James the younger & Joses Mary, mother of James and Joses
Mary Magdalene Mary Magdalene Mary Magdalene

Section 168 – Women Watch the Tomb, Soldiers Guard It (Mt 27:61-66; Mk 15:47; Lk 23:55-56)

[MT 27:]61Mary Magdalene and the other Mary {the mother of JosesMK} were sitting there opposite the tomb {[and] saw where he was laid.MK)

[LK 23:]55[These] women, who had come with Jesus from Galilee, followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

The women want to pay their respects to Jesus but they keep their distance from these two prominent members of the Sanhedrin. How could they know these two are sympathetic to Jesus? They also stand aloof due to the social stigma of men and women interacting. In addition, Carson states that Roman law forbade mourning executed criminals (p. 584). These two Marys want, in the worst way, to show their love for Jesus, but are simply not able to at this time. So they do the next best thing. They find out where Jesus is laid and plan to return at the first available opportunity. That will be at the crack of dawn on Sunday. For now, they must run back to town before sundown to prepare the necessary spices for anointing the dead.

Mt 27:62-66 62The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 Sir, they said, we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, After three days I will rise again. 64So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.

65Take a guard, Pilate answered. Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how. 66So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

Pilate thinks that he is through with Jesus at 9 a.m. on Friday. But about 3 p.m. the Jews come and ask that he order Jesus’ legs broken. Shortly after that Joseph arrives and asks for the body of Jesus. Now, Saturday morning a third delegation arrives asking Pilate to provide a guard for the tomb.

It’s not that the chief priests believe Jesus could raise from the dead. They are merely afraid that his disciples will try to propagate a hoax by stealing Jesus’ body and claiming a resurrection in fulfillment of Jesus’ “supposed” prophecy. Now it should not surprise us that the chief priests were more perceptive than the disciples in interpreting Jesus’ words. They were pretty good at hermeneutics, just miserably poor at faith.

They ask Pilate for a Roman guard for three days. Pilate’s response is somewhat ambiguous: “You have a guard” [echete koustōdian]. Does he mean, “You got it. Take what you need” (as the NIV implies)? Or does he mean, “You have your own temple guards, use them!”? While both are possible, it seems that Pilate actually gives the Jews a Roman guard. First, he wants to avoid any potential conflicts which could flair into civil disorder. Second, after the resurrection, these guards are worried about the report getting back to Pilate (Mt 28:14). Temple guards wouldn’t be concerned about that. The Roman guards, on the other hand, might very well report first to the Sanhedrin rather than to Pilate since it was the Sanhedrin’s corpse that they “lost” (Mt 28:11). Third, Pilate puts his seal on the stone in front of the tomb. This is nothing more than a bit of clay or wax impressed with a signet ring, which holds a cord in front of the tomb. By moving the stone you would break the seal of clay/wax. It is not hard to do, but by doing so you violate the authority of the one whose seal is on the clay/wax. In other words, with Pilate’s seal on the stone, they would be trespassing against the authority of Rome — a violation of no small consequence. Thus, this little seal would dissuade would-be thieves. God, however, is not intimidated by it in the least.

Conclusion of Lesson

Love is like that.  When you love Jesus and his church, you don’t hesitate to give yourself totally to see the kingdom grow.  Your time becomes God’s time; your talents become God’s talents; your money and material possessions become God’s money and possessions.  You want to take a stand for his kingdom.  Jesus becomes the center of your life, number one in your heart.  The “female finalists” of this study knew that they had found the pearl of great price.  Their actions, their deeds, everything they said and did, proclaimed that they were followers of Jesus.  They were like the seed grown in the good soil in the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:18-23).  They stuck with Jesus through thick and thin.

As you look at your own life today, can you say that others see Jesus reflected in your life?  Does your light shine brightly for Jesus and his church or is it hid under a basket?  Does your checkbook prove that Jesus is first in your life?  If you punched a time clock for the Lord, how long would it show you that you actually put in for the work of the kingdom? Can you really say that Jesus is the lord of your heart?  Why not put him first right now and forever more.  Look what God has done for you – what are you doing for him?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 23, 2022 in cross

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: