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Women of Courage

by Robert Berendt

The book of Hebrews has a chapter that acknowledges the great faith and courage of the people of God. This is Hebrews 11. In this chapter we read of some of the brave men – and women – whom God compliments.

Often, we do not recognize the courage that women have shown in the scriptures. During the ministry of Jesus, there were many courageous women who served with bravery. Here is just a glimpse of an event that inspires me every time I read it.

Mark 15:40-41 describes the crowd of people who were witness to the cruel death of Jesus Christ. It says there were many women who came up with Him to Jerusalem. (The distance from Galilee to Jerusalem is about 100 miles one way.) Here was a large group of women who walked – the favourite mode of travel – with Christ and His disciples the 100 miles from Galilee to Jerusalem and back again. This they did about three times each year. It took enormous dedication to be a follower of Jesus. His life had been in danger for quite a long time. To be present at His death was an act of love and courage.

Life under Roman rule was not pleasant for the Jews in Jesus’ lifetime. Romans were the conquerors and had little respect or liking for the Jewish people. The feeling was mutual as the Jews considered the Romans pagan and unclean. Judea was a dangerous place to be, and the danger was especially real when Jesus was being put to death.

Mark 15:40 says the women stood quite far away just as Jesus died. He died of a brutal spear thrust into His side. No doubt the soldiers moved the crowds back. John 19:25- 27 explains that among Jesus’ last words were instructions to John and His mother, Mary. It wasn’t safe for anyone to stand that close to the condemned, which John and Mary must have done in order to hear Christ’s words. He was near the end of His battle. He had little breath left and His voice would have been little more than a whisper. Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ mother, Jesus’ Aunt Mary, and the disciple John must have been almost next to His feet in order to hear Him speak. The soldiers were still present and in control of the area. The danger was intense. The unseen power of Satan was also part of the scene. One can only marvel at these courageous women.

The book of Mark also tells us about the faithful and brave women staying with Jesus’ friends until the body was hastily buried (Mark 15:47). Jesus’ mother was one of those women – and every mother can imagine the pain she must have suffered during this horrendous event. It seems the women noticed something about the wrapping that was not completed during the burial of Jesus Christ. This was most likely due to the approaching Sabbath and the lack of preparation time. The women, including Jesus’ mother, prepared the necessary spices. They then observed the Sabbaths, and at the first opportunity they went to the burial site very early Sunday morning. John 20:1 says it was still dark. We cannot be sure where the women spent the night, but the walk would have taken some time. They may have walked for an hour at a dangerous time for women to be outside. No doubt they had to fight back dread of what they would have to do. The task before them would take all the courage they could muster. They seemed to show no fear. Their only thought was to do this important job. It was a work of love.

The story in Mark 16 is remarkable. Consider the courage it would take to go into a garden full of soldiers who were on guard. Consider the strong hearts that would have been able to unwrap the corpse and anoint it with the spice mixture and then rewrap the body. These women were not strangers just doing a job, they were the closest women in the life of Jesus Christ. John 20:11 expresses just a little of the extreme sorrow that was felt. The weeping had been going on for three days and nights.

Later in history, the Apostle Paul (then Saul of Tarsus) was responsible for some great acts of courage from Jesus’ followers during his persecution of the Church before he was converted. There can be no doubt that Paul, too, was impressed and understood that in God’s sight there is no difference between male and female when it comes to expressing faith and holding fast to Jesus Christ. Women had also suffered persecution for their belief in Jesus. Perhaps that was in Paul’s mind when he wrote in the Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The Book of Life before the throne of Almighty God does not have a special section for men and another for women. You will find all the chosen and faithful together on the same page!

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