Women and the Crucifixion

By: Waylon Bailey ~

Women played a vital part in the message of Jesus and His sacrifice for the sins of the world.

Women were the last at the cross and the first to witness the empty tomb and the band of angels who questioned why the women were seeking the living among the dead.

A close look at the crucifixion accounts in the Gospels shows that women were prominent in each one.

While three of the four Gospel accounts give names, the implication is that there were many women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and had supported His ministry. They were faithful to the very end.

John mentioned four women as being present at the cross. As with the other Gospels, he inferred the presence of many women while naming only four.

Luke did not name any women but he used the word “many” to describe those at the cross and also those who went to anoint the body.

Who were these women?

The four women John named or described help us see who and why these were followers of Jesus.

First, John mentioned the mother of Jesus. He did not call her by name, but he obviously did not have to.

In John’s Gospel, Mary made her first appearance at the wedding in Cana of Galilee where she mentioned to Jesus that the family had run out of wine.

At that time Jesus said, “Woman, what has that to do with me?” The Greek word for “woman” does not carry a connotation of disrespect. Jesus referred to her in the same way in His saying from the cross, “Woman, behold your son.”

John’s Gospel indicated that Mary had a strong understanding of who Jesus was and what He came to do.

Second, the sister of Mary is also described. By comparing all four Gospels, this seems to have been Salome, the wife of Zebedee and the mother of James and John. If this is correct, that made James and John the cousins of Jesus.

Third, Mary the wife of Clopas. This Mary would have been the mother of James the Less and Joses.

While some people believe John named only three women, this does not seem to be the case. If he had inferred that the sister of Mary was the wife of Clopas, this means two women in the same family named Mary. This is certainly not an impossibility but not very likely.

Fourth, Mary Magdalene. This Mary is prominently mentioned in the Gospels. She is the one from whom Jesus cast  seven demons in Luke 8:2 but probably not the immoral woman mentioned in Luke 7:36.

Mary Magdalene faithfully followed Jesus. She had great gratitude for her deliverance and was faithful to the very end. She is named in Matthew, Mark, and John as having been present at the crucifixion and the empty tomb.

All of these women were loyal in their following of Jesus. God used them to do great and mighty things, even being the first to announce that “Christ is risen!”

God continues to look for faithful women–and men–who will help others know the truth of who Jesus is and what He came to do.

Have a great week!