Many disciples who followed Jesus during His ministry on earth were women. We saw evidence of this in PART I, using only one short Gospel passage in Luke. The women disciples ministered to Jesus and His men disciples in sacrificial ways. The women disciples were both faithful and generous servants and devoted and courageous followers of Jesus.
“Soon afterwards He [Jesus] went on through the cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve [men disciples] were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Suzanna, and many others, who provided for them [or Him] out of their means” [Luke 8:1-3].
Along with following Jesus during His life, there are many Gospel passages that mention Jesus’ women disciples witnessing His death on the cross. Mary Magdalene is mentioned throughout these Gospel passages, along with the other women who followed Jesus to His crucifixion. [Matthew 27:56-61; 28:1; Mark 15:40-47; 16:1-19; Luke 8:1-3; 24:1-12; John 19:25; 20:1-18].
In the above Scripture references, we find Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross, along with Mary the mother of James and Joseph, the mother of the sons of Zebedee, Mary the mother of Jose, Salome, Mary the mother of Jesus and His mother’s sister [just to name a few]. These women followed Jesus to a hill called Calvary, also known as Golgotha or “Place of the Skull,” where He was nailed to the cross and hung on that cross dying. Most of the men disciples were hiding, except for Peter and John, “the disciple whom [Jesus] loved” [John 18:15-18, 25-26 and 19:25-27].
Why did these women follow Jesus to the cross to watch Him die? They couldn’t do anything to stop His execution. I believe they did not want Jesus to die alone, surrounded by those who hated Him. The women disciples loved Jesus so much that they wanted to be with Him during His darkest hours. I am sure they were afraid for their own lives, but they loved Jesus more than their fears. Also, I believe they wanted to make sure their beloved Teacher’s body had a proper place to rest in peace.
The women’s courageous love for Jesus did not go unnoticed by Him, even as He hung on the cross in excruciating agony. Jesus saw His mother Mary and wanted her to be cared for. John 19:26-27 records, “When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom Jesus loved [John] standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son [meaning John]!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” Jesus loved His mother Mary who believed in Him from the beginning. One need only read her “Magnificat” in Luke 1:46-55 to understand Mary’s devotion and joy in her Son. In verse 47 she sings, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” Mary knew she needed her Son to be her Savior.
Jesus did not only see Mary His mother. He also noticed the unconditional and sacrificial love of Mary Magdalene and the other Marys, Joanna, Suzanna and many other women disciples; all of whom were healed by Jesus from their brokenness and given new meaning to their lives. Showing compassion and kindness and love to Jesus and to others in His Name is always noticed and rewarded by Jesus. I wonder if that is one of the reasons why some of the same women were the first to find His Empty Tomb.
To be continued…
Present day disciples may serve Jesus by following one of His teachings: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it [given] to one of the least of these My brothers and sister [the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the prisoner], you did it [served] Me” [Luke 25:40b].