Faithful to the End: The Women at the Cross
- Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Through the centuries and across the continents and cultures, women have walked in the shadow of Eve's curse, pronounced upon her by God Himself: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you" (Genesis 3:16).
Even today, in many cultures women are subjugated to lowly positions simply because they were born female. And for those of us who are mothers, we can certainly relate to the sorrow and pain that can sometimes accompany childbirth and child-rearing. But the Crucifixion brings us all—male and female, black and white, old and young, rich and poor—to equal ground when we kneel at the foot of the Cross.
When our Lord hung on that Cross, paying the price for sin and spanning the great divide between heaven and earth, women who loved Him stood nearby, watching and no doubt weeping. Though they realized He was different from anyone else who had ever lived and had so hoped He was the promised Messiah, it seems even His mother may have questioned the outcome of the horrible event they witnessed.
Salome, wife of well-to-do fisherman Zebedee and mother of the "Sons of Thunder," James and John, was one of those women who stood watch during that cruel execution. How she must have rehearsed her many memories of Jesus and the interaction they had over the years!
It is believed that Salome, whose name means "peaceful," and her family were friends of Jesus even before He began His public ministry at the age of thirty. Very possibly Jesus visited them in their home, where Salome cooked for Him. And when He did launch out into public ministry, Salome gave up a life of relative comfort to follow Him, serving Him both in actions and financial support. She believed in Him to the point that she interceded with Him on behalf of her sons, asking for a special place for them in His future Kingdom. With Jesus hanging, beaten and bloody on the Cross, what would happen to her sons now?
And then there was Mary Magdalene, the woman who loved much because she was forgiven much. Many have mistakenly identified her as a prostitute before she came to Jesus, but there is no historical evidence to prove that claim. In fact, there is ample evidence that a confusion of the many "Mary's" of the New Testament led to the common misconception.
Mary Magdalene is clearly identified in the Scriptures as the woman from whom Jesus cast out seven demons. How grateful she must have been, and how quickly and completely she fell into line to follow her Deliverer! Mary Magdalene is not only seen at the foot of the Cross, maintaining her devotion to her Lord to the end, but following to the sepulcher to confirm where He was buried. Then, on that great Resurrection morning, Mary Magdalene was the first to arrive at the open tomb and to proclaim to the disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead. Her joy was coming—but her grief was still overwhelming as she stood vigil on Golgotha.
And then there was Mary of Nazareth, wife (and most likely widow by then) of Joseph the carpenter. Whose broken heart could begin to compare to that of the woman who had carried the very Son of God in her womb and brought Him forth into the world in a lowly stable in Bethlehem? This grieving mother had raised her firstborn Son to adulthood, knowing that He was unique and yet anticipating the fulfillment of the prophecy that a sword would pierce her soul (Luke 2:35)—and now the time had come. How could she bear to stand on that blood-soaked ground and watch the agony of her beloved Child, knowing there was nothing she could do or say to help Him?
Did Mary know that after the Crucifixion would come the Resurrection? Quite possibly, to some degree, she did. But even if she knew it specifically, down to every minute detail, would it make her current pain any less? How does any mother stand by and watch her child suffer, regardless of the hoped-for outcome?
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