April 1, 2018

Adult Bible Study Online

A current connection to each week's session

He Has Risen
Luke 24:1-12, 30-35

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Many of us are so familiar with the resurrection accounts that we often overlook some obvious details. One focus is on the role of a group of women who were witnesses to the empty tomb. At least in conservative Jewish circles, the position of women was similar to that in Muslim states today. The fact that women followed Jesus has been especially noted by some commentators. According to Luke, “These women were helping to support [Jesus and the 12 disciples] out of their own means” (8:3b).

From the absence of any scandal attached to this, we can conclude that these women were “of discreet age”—that is, probably past childbearing. One of them, Salome, was the mother of James and John (Matthew 20:20) and probably the sister of Jesus’ mother, Mary (John 19:25). Mary Magdalene would likely have belonged to this older generation. While nearly all these women came from Galilee (Luke 23:55), Luke includes “Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household” (8:3a), who likely lived in Jerusalem. Present at the crucifixion were Mary Magdalene, Salome, Mary the mother of James the younger and Joseph, and others (Mark 15:40).

In ancient societies, women were not normally permitted to testify in court, so for women to be the first witnesses to the circumstances of the resurrection is significant. Not surprisingly, the 11 male disciples did not accept their testimony. Later, Peter set out the requirements for someone to replace Judas as a disciple (Acts 1:21-22). Except for not being men, the women at the tomb had those qualifications. It would follow that Jesus had several female disciples and apostles.

Young girls and women, some the successors of these Jesus followers, are rising up today with messages of good news. They too have witnessed violence against children, youth, men, their communities, and themselves. They are addressing such issues as human trafficking, homelessness, and poverty, giving witness to the power of our resurrected Christ to change lives. Some of these peacemakers are just getting started; others have been working tirelessly for decades to bring God’s new life and peace to all.

Recognizing the women who came to the cross and the empty tomb as apostles is compatible with the heart of the gospel message; namely, that Jesus is the Savior of all people in a particularly personal way and that all of us are called to share that good news. The involvement of a group of women in Christ’s resurrection sends a strong, positive message of affirmation.

  • Who are the women you know who stand with Jesus and tell others of his good news, even when they are not believed?
  • What qualities of these women disciples (in the Bible and today) do you admire and desire to emulate?

—Kevin McCabe, Kmccabe57@hotmail.com

© 2018

Kevin McCabe is a writer, teacher, and poet. He was formerly an instructor in Classics at several universities, and has also been the author and editor of two books on Lucy Maud Montgomery and a number of works on the history and literature of the Niagara Peninsula. Kevin is a member of Grace Mennonite Church in St. Catharines where he lives with his wife and two daughters.

This article supplements Adult Bible Study, a quarterly Bible curriculum for adults. Adult Bible Study provides in-depth, challenging Bible study from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective, written by an intercultural group of pastors, teachers, professors, and leaders across Canada and the United States. Sessions include daily Bible readings, resources for additional study, and free downloadable resources.

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