We are going to consider a few questions in understanding the women and their role during the crucifixion and how they were determined to follow Jesus.

1. What are a few significant roles of women in the Bible, the Old Testament in particular?

2. What were the roles of women during the time of Jesus’ life and ministry?

3. What did the women who followed Jesus do at the time of crucifixion?

4. How were they different from the men, particularly the male disciples?

5. How did Jesus honour women during the resurrection?

1. What are a few significant roles of women in the Bible?

We need to understand this from the male-oriented society of Jewish community. Greek, Roman, and Jewish cultures, viewed women almost on the level of possessions.

Though Jewish rabbis did not teach women and the Jewish Talmud said it was better to burn the Torah than to teach it to a woman, Jesus never took the position that women, by their very nature, could not understand spiritual or theological truth.

In the creation, we observe that the creation was incomplete without the presence of a woman. The Lord God said that it is not good for man to be alone (Gen 2:18, 22). Therefore, God created woman as completion and climax of the creation.

The Lord God gave equal importance in the creation. Both man and woman had been created in the image and the likeness of God (Gen 1: 27). Both man and woman were given (Gen 1:28) authority and the ability to subdue the earth.

The common identity of bone and flesh (Genesis 2:23). This is climaxed with the concept of mutuality expressed in the “one flesh” language (Genesis 2:24).

Also, the fact that they sinned together, indicates that both partners are together, involved in disobedience to God. This is also seen by the fact that after both ate, it is said: “Then the eyes of both of them were opened” (Genesis 3:7). Therefore, we conclude that there is gender equality even though their roles were different.

How many women were in the leadership mentioned in the OT?

The women were given a leadership role. There are many women’s names in the Bible who played the lead role.

1. Women who stayed single and helped their brothers lead Israel: Miriam (Micah 6:4).

2. Think and act quickly to save your husband from imminent death: Zipporah (Exod. 4:24-26), Michal (1 Sam. 19:11-17), and Abigail (1 Sam. 25:1ff).

3. Dress like a prostitute and have sex with your father-in-law so that you can have legitimate children . . . and be praised for it: Tamar, an ancestor of Jesus Christ (Gen. ch. 38, esp. Gen. 38:26; Ruth 4:12; Matt. 1:3).

4. Commit treason against your own people in order to help Israel, and cut a shrewd deal to rescue your family: Rahab (Josh. 2:1ff; 6:22-25).

5. Do a great job in leading Israel, and give orders to the general of the army: Deborah (Judges chapters 4-5)

6. Kill the generals of enemy armies by driving a tent peg through their skull or decapitating them: Jael (Judg. 4:17-22; 5:24-27) and Judith (Judith 13:6-10).

7. Mortally wound the leader of an army that is attacking your city by being a crack shot with a millstone: A woman of Thebez (Judges 9:53; 2 Sam. 11:21).

8. Be noticeably more spiritually astute than your husband: Samson’s mother (Judg. 13:1ff) and possibly Elizabeth (Luke 1:41ff; cf. Luke 1:18ff)

9. Win a beauty contest to become queen and then risk your life by devising and implementing a successful scheme to rescue the Jews: Esther.

10. Give your mistress vital information that will result in her husband, yet another army general, being healed of leprosy: The young slave girl taken captive from Israel (2 Kings 5:2ff).

2. What were the roles of women during the time of Jesus’ life and ministry?

Read: Mark 5:25–34; Luke 7:36–50; Luke 8:1–3; Luke 10:38–42

· Jesus reached out to women who were rejected. In spite of the laws regarding uncleanness, Jesus allowed a woman with a twelve-year menstrual problem to touch him, and he commended her faith (Mark 5:25–34).

· Jesus permitted a sinful woman to anoint and kiss his feet (Luke 7:36–50).

· Jesus challenged religious leaders by saying: “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you” (Matthew 21:31). He also offered salvation directly to women who were known as adulteresses (John 4:4–42 and John 8:1–11).

· In Jesus’ day, responsible teachers were not to teach women. Nevertheless, Jesus taught women and included them in his group of committed disciples.

· He taught Mary of Bethany and commended her learning to her sister who was carrying out the traditional tasks (Luke 10:38–42).

· It was to the Samaritan woman that Jesus made his most explicit affirmation that he was the Messiah, and he shared with her his basic mission (John 4:4–42).

· According to Luke 8:1–3, many women were in Jesus’ band of travelling disciples.

· Jesus affirmed the value of committed discipleship and obedience to God, even over the natural and valued role of mother: “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice” (Luke 8:21), and “Blessed [rather than his own mother] are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28).

3. What did the women who followed Jesus do at the time of crucifixion?

Read Luke 23: 27, 28,49; John 19: 26; Luke 23: 55

· Luke is making a striking difference about the women who followed the Lord. In Luke 23: 49 when all the people went away after just expressing their grief and sympathy, the women who followed Jesus stood there watching everything. They were helpless, but nothing could drive them away from the cross of Jesus.

Why? Luke says, but all those who knew Jesus and followed Jesus did not run away from Him and from the risky situation. First, they were not ashamed to stand there. Second, they were afraid to stand there for Jesus and with Jesus.

· John 19: 26 says Jesus saw who all are standing near the cross. When we take a stand for Jesus in difficult circumstances, He will notice our determination to follow Him. Our security is at the foot of the cross. Away from the cross, we will not be safe.

Paul understood this in his life and he says in Gal 6: 14, May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. We might wear the cross around our neck, but we need to examine ourselves whether anything else has taken that place of security and our boast in our lives.

· Luke 23: 55 says that these women who followed Jesus from Galilee, followed Joseph Arimathea and made sure where the tomb was and where the body of Jesus was laid. This is something unique about these women.

They were there until everything was done and finished. Unlike the disciples and the men who followed Jesus, who ran away from the situation, they followed Jesus with determination.

4. How were they different from the men, particularly than the male disciples?

Read: Mat 26: 6-13; Mat 26: 55-56

· Just before the crucifixion of Jesus, a woman came to Simon the leper’s home with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume and poured it on His head.

Jesus praised this woman saying that she has done a beautiful thing to me and she has done what she could. Then he said that what she has done will be proclaimed wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world. (Matthew 26: 6-13). Her name is not mentioned here.

· Matthew 26: 56b tells us that all the disciples deserted Jesus and fled. Men who were supposed to be brave and daring, who also mentioned to Jesus that they will not run away from Jesus, they left Jesus high and dry.

· However, Matthew did not forget to note in 27:55, 56 that many women were there at the crucifixion and they followed Jesus from Galilee to care for His needs. Women followed Jesus all the way to the cross. We see their determination in following Jesus.

· Mark noted that many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there. Mark 15:41.

In the mission fields, we see a huge number of women who believe in the Lord and follow Christ. They not only believe in Jesus but also bring the whole family and the community to follow Christ.

5. How did Jesus honour women during the resurrection?

Read: Mat 28: 8- 10; Mark 16: 1- 4; Luke 24: 9-12; John 20: 10- 16

These same women were present at the crucifixion and burial and on resurrection morning (Luke 23:49, 55–56; 24:1).

· Mat 28: 8- 10: The risen Lord Jesus filled them with joy because of their simple obedience. Without a doubt they believed the angels and they hurried to proclaim to others that the Lord had risen.

· Mark 16: 1- 4: The women sought Jesus very early in the morning. However, they were worried as they were going to the tomb, ‘Who will roll the stone away?’ But the Lord honoured their faith by moving the stone away.

These women were not stuck in one place but they moved and went in faith all though there were many factors which discouraged them. But they were determined to move forward. And the Lord moved away from all the big hurdles. Micah 2: 13 tells that our Lord will break open and go before them.

· Luke 24: 9-12: The men not only run away from the Lord, but they also were not concerned about the Lord Jesus with whom they followed for three and a half years. To top it all, they did not believe what these women were saying. Luke 24: 11 was like nonsense to them. The Lord honoured their faith by making the men believe through the women.

· John 20: 10- 16: The Lord proved that He is full of compassion to those who follow Him wholeheartedly. He will not disappoint them. When all the men went away from the tomb, Mary Magdalene stayed in the tomb. She wouldn’t easily give up on searching and seeking the Lord. Therefore, the Lord appeared to her. The Lord appreciated her determination to follow the Lord and to seek Him at any cost.

Isa 55: 6 ‘Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call on Him while he is near.’

2 Chr. 28: 9b: “If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.” This is the counsel given by king David to his son Solomon. In Jere 29: 13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Are we following Christ wholeheartedly? What is motivating us in following Jesus? Do we have the determination like these women who followed Jesus Christ all the way from Galilee taking the risk of following Jesus to Jerusalem?

Rev John P. Wesley is the Former General Secretary of Indian Evangelical Mission

Photo by Holden Baxter on Unsplash

Rev John P. Wesley is the Former General Secretary of Indian Evangelical Mission.