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The Women Who Loved Jesus: from Birth to the Empty Tomb

The Women Who Loved Jesus: from Birth to the Empty Tomb

Throughout the journey of Jesus’ life on this earth, we see story after story in the Bible of His great care and love for all people.

Yet in Biblical times, it was very common, and expected, for women to be treated as “less than.” That’s one reason that the miracles of Christ healing women, spending time, reaching out, sharing truth with them is so important, even today. And why it was significant that the first people recorded as praying for and praising Him before He was born, giving financially to His ministry, lingering at the foot of the cross in His final moments, visiting the empty tomb after His death, and being the first to see Him again after the Resurrection were all women. These women followed and loved him, from birth to the cross.

Jesus showed great respect and care for women. He broke the barriers of social expectations. He tore down walls of injustice and prejudice. He came to heal, forgive, and set free. As believers, He commissions us for His service, men and women alike, to share Truth with a broken world.

Here are the women who were influential in Jesus’ life, from before his birth to after his death and resurrection.

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  • Mary, Mother of Jesus

    Mary was chosen by God to bring His Son into the world. Even at a young age, her obedience and courage to do whatever God asked of her was amazing. The Bible says that she “found favor with God.” And though her own mind must have wrestled with many of the “hows” and “whys,” she answered His call by saying, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:26-38)

    At the first visit of Elizabeth, she bursts into a powerful song of praise to God, which is widely known today as “The Magnificat.” (Luke 1:46-55) Scripture goes on to tell of Christ’s birth, his early days, and how Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) And just as this strong, loving Mother watched her baby take his first breath, the Bible reveals that she also watched Him suffer and breathe his last. What courage and strength she had. Held by a Mighty God, she was entrusted to raise the Savior of the world.

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  • Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist, the Cousin and Forerunner of Christ

    The Bible records that after years of not being able to have a child, this close relative to Mary had become pregnant with her son, at a crucial time in history. God’s timing is perfect, for John the Baptist was destined to be the forerunner of Christ Himself. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting at her visit, the Scripture says “the baby leaped in her womb,” the Holy Spirit filled her, and she praised God, offering up blessings over Mary and her son. (Luke 1:39-45)

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  • Anna the Prophetess

    The Bible says that after her husband died, this woman had been a widow for many years, and “…had never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.” (Luke 2:37) In her close and personal walk with God, she knew immediately when she saw Jesus with his parents in the Temple that she was beholding the chosen One to save us. “Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:38) She knew and recognized her Savior, she moved towards Him, she gave thanks and praise to God for His redemption.

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  • Mary and Martha

    These were sisters who, along with their brother Lazarus, were friends and followers of Jesus throughout his ministry. He loved them and visited their home, they served and hosted him, and we know of several stories that reveal more of their lives. From the powerful miracle of bringing Lazarus back to life after he had been dead for 3 days, to the well-known story of Mary resting at the feet of Jesus while Martha worked busily (Luke 10:38-42), these women faithfully honored and served Jesus in the time they spent with Him. Scripture indicates Jesus’ deep love for his friends when overcome with grief and moved with compassion at the pain of Lazarus’ death, through these 2 powerful words, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)

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  • Mary Magdalene

    In Luke 8:2, we read that Jesus had delivered Mary Magdalene from seven demons, and that she went on to live her life following Him faithfully. She was among the group of women who were at the foot of the cross (John 19:25), and those who came to the empty tomb early that morning and found that Christ was risen (John 20:1). John 20:10-18 then tells us that she is the very first one to whom Jesus appeared after the Resurrection, commissioning her to go and tell the others. In the Bible, she is usually mentioned first when in a list of names, possibly meaning that she was a leader among those who followed after Christ.

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  • The Woman Who Anointed the Feet of Jesus with Perfume

    Scripture names this woman as Mary of Bethany and points to the fact that it takes place in this city where Lazarus lived. (John 12:1-8) Martha is mentioned as serving there, so many believe this indicates it was their sister Mary who anointed Christ with expensive perfume, according to John 11:1-2. Others believe that because of the Scripture saying she was a “sinful woman” (Luke 7:36-50), it points towards Mary Magdalene and her previous life before Christ had rescued her. Either way, it is a beautiful reminder and symbolic representation of worshipping Jesus as King and preparing His body for the death and burial he would soon face. Those who saw this event unfold had no idea of all that it truly meant, but God had obviously led Mary of Bethany to lovingly pour out expensive perfume on the feet of her Lord, showing her deep love to Him, and also preparing Him for what was yet to come.

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  • Joanna and Susanna

    These women, along with Mary Magdalene, had been healed by Jesus and set free of demonic spirits. The Bible says that they were with Jesus and the disciples as they traveled from town to town, and that they “were helping to support them out of their own means.” (Luke 8:3) Behind the scenes, they were diligently supporting the message of Christ by helping provide financially for the needs of those serving. Joanna was in an important position as wife to Chuza, who was the manager of Herod’s household. I can’t help but think that God had placed her and so many others in key and prominent positions of authority and means to help provide for the financial needs of Christ and the disciples. Joanna was also named among the women at the tomb after Jesus’ Resurrection, and her work continued along with other believers.

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  • Pilate’s Wife

    According to Scripture, Pilate’s wife is the only one who is recorded of having spoken up on behalf of Christ’s innocence in the most urgent hour. She pleaded with her husband to not have anything to do with harming this “innocent man.” (Matthew 27:19) Her courage and obedience to God’s promptings, on the heels of disturbing dreams that must have set her soul on fire, offers a challenge for us today. She was willing to speak up on behalf of innocence. She was willing to move and act quickly, decisively, with wisdom and discernment. Though her words went unheeded by her husband, I can only imagine how her life may have been changed through the years by the hope of Christ and the power of His Resurrection.

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  • The Women Who Were at the Cross and the Empty Tomb

    Along with Mary Magdalene and Mary the Mother of Jesus, Scripture names several other women who were at the cross, and then came to the tomb after Christ’s death. “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome brought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’s body.” (Mark 16:1) Salome was also known as the mother of the sons of Zebedee, or James and John. And yet another Mary, known as the mother of James and Joseph, is mentioned here, as being a close follower of Christ. Joanna’s name appears in Luke 24:10, as also being among the group of women to find that Christ has risen. John 19:25 names Mary, wife of Clopas, who may have been an aunt to Jesus, to be among those at the foot of the cross.

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  • A Prayer to Draw Closer to God

    Dear women who love Jesus, for those who long to know Him more, or seek to follow Him today, be assured: No matter what you face, His heart is forever towards you. He gives you hope and a future. He sees, He hears, He knows your way. And He promises to be with you always. You are powerful, you are called and redeemed, not because of who you are, but because of who He is.

    “Dear Lord,

    We want to live in your great strength, grace, and power today. We ask that you would use every part of our lives as a testimony to the world of your goodness and love. Draw us closer to yourself, and let others see Your light reflected through all that we do, through all that we are, in powerful ways. We thank you that you’ve set us free, we thank you that you’ve given us a purpose and hope. We love you and praise you that your faithfulness is great.

    In Jesus’ Name,

    Amen.”

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    Follow Debbie McDaniel on her Facebook page for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives. Find her also on Twitter and at her blog www.debbiemcdaniel.com