The army officer and the soldiers guarding Jesus saw this earthquake and everything that happened. They were very afraid and said, "He really was the Son of God!" Many women were standing away from the cross, watching. These were the women that followed Jesus from Galilee to care for him.
— Matthew 27:54-55
Notice two powerful realities at the foot of Jesus' cross:
First, admire the faithfulness of the women who stood at Jesus' side while his male disciples forsook him and hid.
Second, appreciate the soldiers at the cross who are struck by Jesus' demeanor and God's signs in the environment so that they confess him as Son of God.
While much has been made about the fear, disillusionment, and unfaithfulness of Jesus' disciples, especially the 12 apostles, we don't seem to emphasize the profound faithfulness of women believers all the way through Jesus' trial, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost. While Luke emphasizes this point more than the other Gospels, it is important to notice how important a role the faithfulness of women have played throughout the history of the Jesus/Christian movement. They were faithful when others weren't. They supported his ministry financially. They were the first to the tomb. They were there in the upper room at Pentecost and were participants in the prayer meetings. They played a key role in the planting of the Church and providing the church places to meet. Let's give thanks for the faithfulness of Christian women!
Even more incredibly, the soldiers who were grizzled veterans of crucifixion duty recognize in Jesus' death by crucifixion something very different from the others they had done. Jesus had promised that his crucifixion would be a time of glory. We recognize that glory as we place our ultimate trust in his work on the Cross to save us and cleanse our sins when we share with him in his death through baptism. But the glory of his Cross even had a more immediate effect. While the message of the Cross does seem a bit bizarre, even today, it is a great reminder of God's ability to take the worst of our world, absorb it, and bring us to a better place, a closer place, to him.
Father, thank you for your faithful servants, the women of faith, who have meant so much to your people, and especially to me. I thank you for their time, effort, and prayers to teach and discipline me in your truth. I thank you for their courage to stand up for you when men have cowered in fear. I thank you for the ridicule many have faced with grace and dignity when their husbands or fathers did not believe. Thank you for faithful, godly women, several of whom I want to thank you specifically for now, as I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Today's Verses in Context
And in the same way, the robbers that were being killed on crosses beside Jesus also said bad things to him. At noon the whole country became dark. This darkness continued for three hours. At about three o'clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" This means, "My God, my God, why have you left me alone?" Some of the people standing there heard this. The people said, "He is calling Elijah." Quickly one of the people ran and got a sponge. That person filled the sponge with vinegar and tied the sponge to a stick. Then he used the stick to give the sponge to Jesus to drink from it. But the other people said, "Don't bother him (Jesus). We want to see if Elijah will come to save him." Again Jesus cried with a loud voice. Then he died. When Jesus died, the curtain in the temple was torn into two pieces. The tear started at the top and tore all the way to the bottom. Also, the earth shook and rocks were broken. All the graves opened, and many of God's people that had died were raised from death. Those people came out of the graves. After Jesus was raised from death, those people went into the holy city (Jerusalem), and many people saw them. The army officer and the soldiers guarding Jesus saw this earthquake and everything that happened. They were very afraid and said, "He really was the Son of God!" Many women were standing away from the cross, watching. These were the women that followed Jesus from Galilee to care for him. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of James and John were there.
Related Scripture Readings
Many women were standing away from the cross, watching. These were the women that followed Jesus from Galilee to care for him. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of James and John were there.
Then the apostles went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. (This mountain is about one-half mile from Jerusalem.) The apostles entered the city. They went to the place where they were staying; this was in a room upstairs. The apostles were: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (the son of Alphaeus), Simon (known as the Zealot ), and Judas (the son of James). The apostles were all together. They were constantly praying with the same purpose. Some women, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his brothers were there with the apostles.
On the Sabbath day we went out the city gate to the river. At the river we thought we might find a special place for prayer. Some women had gathered there. So we sat down and talked with them. There was a woman named Lydia from the city of Thyatira. Her job was selling purple cloth. She worshiped the true God. Lydia listened to Paul. The Lord opened her heart. She believed the things Paul said. She and all the people living in her home were baptized. Then Lydia invited us into her home. She said, "If you think I am truly a believer in the Lord Jesus, then come stay in my house." She persuaded us to stay with her.