At the crack of dawn on Sunday, the women came to the tomb carrying the burial spices they had prepared. They found the entrance stone rolled back from the tomb, so they walked in. But once inside, they couldn’t find the body of the Master Jesus.
They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, two men, light cascading over them, stood there. The women were awestruck and bowed down in worship. The men said, “Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery? He is not here, but raised up. Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?” Then they remembered Jesus’ words.
They left the tomb and broke the news of all this to the Eleven and the rest. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them kept telling these things to the apostles, but the apostles didn’t believe a word of it, thought they were making it all up.
But Peter jumped to his feet and ran to the tomb. He stooped to look in and saw a few grave clothes, that’s all. He walked away puzzled, shaking his head. Luke 24:1-12
The story clings to me like the lingering sweetness of communion wine and wafers.
The disciples were asleep after a Friday when the skies grew black and the earth split apart and the curtain that covered the presence of God was torn like tissue from top to bottom. The one they called God—the One who called them friend—was hung like meat on splintered wood.
They had seen it all happen, those who didn’t run and hide. A rooster sounded the alarm as one disciple denied He knew Christ. And the one who sold Him to the enemy like corn committed suicide because of the guilt. The crowds watched, waited, wondered. Christ’s bleeding body was placed in a borrowed tomb, wrapped in linen, and hidden behind a stone just in case someone might want to steal it. Fear was palpable.
It was Sunday, and the disciples slept. The crowds slept. The judge and jury slept it off like a bad bender. But before dawn, the women walked. It was a woman’s job then to care for the dead, to wipe wounds and cover bodies in herbs and ointments and smell the stench of a life no more. The women walked to the tomb while the world was still silent.
There was Mary Magdalene. Some say she had been delivered of demons, and others say she suffered anxiety and depression before Jesus looked at her tenderly and healed her soul. She was a a risk-taker, always at the ready to defend and protect, a leader who was unafraid to be in the midst of controversy as Jesus was arrested, tried, and crucified. She was there at the cross, and she was not leaving His side. Surely, on this morning it was Mary Magdalene who was leading the way.
Mary, the mother of James the lesser—not because he wasn’t worthy, but because he was smaller than his counterparts—was there. Jesus has asked James to be a disciple—and then an apostle. It meant leaving everything and setting out on uncharted waters. Mary, knowing that tradition would have James care of her in her old age, said, “Be free, son. Follow Jesus, and I will follow too.” She came alongside the disciples and provided care. She encouraged her son to keep walking, even if it meant she would be alone. Mary carried the spices to the tomb—a reminder of the cross she herself gratefully carried.
Joanna was a society woman, a wife of enemies who long to see Jesus crushed. But He had healed her too, and she used her position and power to provide for Him and His disciples. She cared not at all what her circles considered. She was faithful to death, and her place with her Savior rose above her place in society. Perhaps Joanna wept the most at the cross, when she realized there was no money or power that could save Her Lord from death. She carried spices too in remembrance of His healing for her.
It was before dawn when they arrived. Jesus had shared two promises—that He would be killed, and that He would rise. They had all seen the first promise fulfilled. But with a the tomb and the stone and the guards who kept watch because they felt Jesus was still a dangerous man—even in death—they didn’t notice the second. They walked because no one else did. They chose the hard road, the messy road unfavored by the masses. They walked because it was the right thing to do. They walked because they all loved this man named Jesus the Christ. The morning breeze brushed against their faces, and for a moment they shivered.
The world was silent when they walked inside the temple. Angels were there with a simple message.”He’s not here. He’s alive.” There was no Jesus to be seen—just burial clothes folded neatly and the rays of sun shining through stone that was no more. Herbs fell to the floor as hands lifted gently to the sky. Mary Magdalene stepped outside and saw a gardener. “Pardon me, but have you seen my Jesus?” she asked. He looked at her and smiled. His design was to tell her first. He was always faithful.
Mary Magdalene knew. Then Mary. Then Joanna. The Resurrection story is incomplete without them. They weren’t selected for the morning because they were also-rans or second-thoughts. God purposefully selected three women to remind us all that we are in this together, all together. He selected those who were unafraid of stepping into life by passing through death. He chose the ones who were willing to simply show up.
And I now pray, “Let me be the women.” Let me be bold and fierce and unafraid to risk for the sake of the Gospel. Let me be unafraid to let go of the ones I love the most so that their faith may soar so high. Let me be willing to carry the load and walk unknown paths. Let me see every circle as a place for more people to dwell in unity. Let me be willing to weep at the cross and walk before the dawn—while the rest of the world sleeps.
It was these women who changed the world then. And it is these women who will truly change it now. Let me be the women. Let us be the women. I want you to be the women.
We are the women, love. Isn’t that story powerful? If you liked it, you’ll love the courage you’ll receive from the women who bled, the gumption of the Canaanite woman, the liberty found by the woman twisted by pain, the beauty of the woman caught in the act, the leadership of Rufus’ mom, the kindness of Peter’s mother-in-law, the bravery of Dorcas and the unlikely power of the Samaritan woman. Each celebration is unique and a reminder of all that you and I have to celebrate too. I share stories like this each month right here. Be sure to subscribe to my little love letters, so you’ll never miss a story—and receive updates on the book One Woman Can Change the World!