“There were also numerous women there, looking on from a distance, who were of those who had accompanied Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him.”
Matthew 27: 55
“Why Did The Women Stay?” Part I
“Believe your beliefs and doubt your doubts; do not make the mistake of doubting your beliefs and believing your doubts.”
Charles F. Deems
Has there been a time in my life when an event was so great that it pulled the rug out from under my feet and I felt as if everything I had believed in had been torn from me?
If I had been one of the numerous women following Jesus, how do I think I would have reacted if I had watched all the events surrounding His trial and crucifixion?
“(She) fought (her) doubts and gathered strength,
(She) would not make (her) judgment blind,
(She) faced the specters of the mind
And laid them: thus (she) came at length
to find a stronger faith (her) own.”
Alfred Lord Tennyson
“Underlying all life is the ground of doubt and self-questioning which sooner or later must bring us face to face with the ultimate meaning of our life.”
For many years, as I’ve read the stories of how different individuals in Jesus’ life responded to the crisis that surrounded His arrest, trial, and crucifixion, I’ve repeatedly found myself asking this one question, “Why did the women stay by Jesus’ side when so many others ran for the hills?” Even all His disciples except for John.
During the month of April, when around the world reflect on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I want to focus our studies not only of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but also on the lives of the women who stayed by Jesus, not only to the end of His life, but also those who were the first witnesses to His resurrection.
One of the interesting things I’ve learned is that for nearly every woman who stayed by Jesus, there is an opposite image of the reverse happening in the life of someone else. It is these opposite choices, we will also be looking at, for in them, we find the lessons which apply directly to our own lives today.
It is my prayer that we will not only come to know the women around Jesus better during this time of reflection but that our studies will open a glorious window which allows in the light of our Saviour’s love – a love that will heal our hearts as it did the women who chose to stay by Jesus’ side.
As I’ve reread the stories about all the women who followed Jesus, one vital ingredient kept coming to the forefront. For all of the women, the belief in Jesus, their trust in His word and His life, came before the crisis surrounding His death. Their commitment to staking a claim that this Man was who He said He was, “The Son of God,” was a decision they made long before they cheered with the crowds as Jesus rode on a donkey into Jerusalem. They were certain that Jesus spoke the truth long before His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. And they trusted Jesus before His trial and death. The bottom line is, these women didn’t come to some snap decision about Jesus in a moment of emotional crisis. They made their choice to believe by listening to, by walking with, and by daily following their Lord, their Master and their King.
In Matthew 27: 55, I found a text that is rarely read or noted which describes the scene on Golgotha’s mount where three crosses stood. In giving us a record of the people who stayed by Jesus to the bitter end, Matthew writes: “There were also numerous women there, looking on from a distance, who were of those who accompanied Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him.” While Matthew goes on to list the names of Mary of Magdala and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and Salome, the mother of Zebedee’s sons, it is the “numerous” women who were followers that I want to focus on today.
For 3 ½ years, Jesus had preached, sharing the joy and hope contained in the heavenly message regarding His Father’s kingdom. During this time, while even His closest disciples didn’t “get” the message, it was the women who proved to be the most devout believers. And I again, ask myself, “Why did these women choose to stick with Jesus?”
What I’ve found is that for these women, as happens in your life and mine, there comes a fork in the road or a moment in time, when we are confronted with a question that of itself, demands from us, not as a group, but as an individuals, a direct response.
This is one of those times when there isn’t an altar call and based on what everyone else is doing, we decide, under the pressure of the moment to respond. Instead,
this is what I call a one-on-one time of decision where no one but God sees into the crevices of our hearts and like the Roman Centurion, who stood by the cross, we whisper, “Yes, He is my God – now and forever!”
This moment of decision comes for each of us under very personal circumstances and in very unique ways. As we will see, the same thing happened to the women who followed Jesus. But one thing is certain, after the choice had been made that Jesus was the consuming fires in their lives, not only were these numerous women never the same again, their decision was final. They never looked back, gave up or changed direction.
Did they have doubts? I’m certain they did. Like all of us, during moments of darkness, when uncertainty haunts our every footstep, I believe many of these women may have been challenged to give up, especially as they watched Jesus’ most devout disciples recant their own commitment.
Several years ago, when some of the most personal diary entries of Mother Teresa were made public, there were, among her writings, statements expressing her personal despair during times of “silence and emptiness” when she questioned her own faith. Some individuals found this disturbing. I found it comforting. It reflected the honest response each of us, who come to the fork in the road have, when we make the internal decision to travel the road with the Man from Galilee.
While the numerous women who followed Jesus may have had questions, doubts and silent times in their own lives, they had walked and listened to Jesus long enough that they also trusted Him. And this meant their belief was built on a foundation that no matter the storm, could not be toppled.
Tomorrow, we will expand our study into the individual lives of the women who chose to stand by Jesus’ side. The first woman we will study is Mary, Jesus’ mother who was the first woman to come to a crossroad moment – a time when she said, “I believe,” and by doing so, she took into her heart the knowledge that a “sword would pierce her own soul.”
“The best way to get your faith strengthened is to have communion with Christ.”
C. H. Spurgeon
“Give us courage, O Lord, to stand up and be counted, to stand up for others who cannot stand up for themselves. To stand up for ourselves when it is needful to do so.
Let us fear nothing more than we fear Thee.
Let us love nothing more than we love Thee, for then we shall fear nothing also.
Let us have no other God before Thee…let us seek no other peace but the peace which is Thine, and make us its instruments, opening our eyes and our ears and our hearts, so that we should know always what work of peace we should do for Thee.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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