Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. –Luke 24:9-11
It was a cultural thing, we are told. Women were not considered reliable witnesses. The Jewish writer Josephus said, “But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex.” I’m not sure what precisely he meant, but I know what the effect was meant to be: Keep women in their place.
Thank God for the women. One of many reasons I love the Gospel According to Luke is the place it gives to women. Consider…
Luke 8:1-2 The women supported Jesus. Now, it came to pass afterward that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities–Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.
Ask any traveling preacher. Someone has to support them financially. Thank God for these women who believed in Jesus and supported Him.
Luke 23:55-56 They were the last ones at the cross on Friday afternoon. And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.
What were the disciples doing? Good question. But the women were doing what needed to be done.
Luke 24:1-11 The women were the first ones at the tomb on Easter Sunday morning. Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they and certain other women with them came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. They they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! …. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest….
And, as you know, the disciples scoffed.
No one believes the women. Not then, and hardly now. God help us.
Want to see something interesting? Read the list of Jesus’ appearances given by the Apostle Paul in First Corinthians 15. And ask yourself if he left out someone.
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then, last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. (I Cor 15:3-8).
Where are the women? Paul does not mention that Jesus appeared first of all to the women. Matthew 28:1-10 says so. Mark 16:1-11 says so. Luke 24:1-11 has it, as does John 20:1-18. The gospels are all in agreement. So, why did Paul ignore that?
We’re told that the First Epistle to the Corinthians was probably written in the year A.D. 55, and that likely this was prior to any of the four Gospels being penned. (The introduction to these gospels in the John MacArthur Study Bible has the following: Matthew’s date: while it has to be prior to AD 70, there’s no way to know. Mark, like Matthew, is dated somewhere between AD 50 and 70. Luke is said to be dated around AD 60 or 61. John AD 80-90.) The thinking is that had Paul listed the women as the first witnesses of the resurrection, outsiders would have abruptly dismissed the account altogether as “wives tales from the hysterical.” Sorry, ladies, but that’s the thinking on this.
There are so many internal evidences for the Scriptures to have come from the Mind of God rather than from a smoke-filled room where it was made up by a bunch of conniving religionists, which some mindless critics would have us believe. God does not do things our ways (Isaiah 55). And so He arranged for the women to be the first witnesses of the resurrection.
In her essay titled “The Human-Not-Quite-Human” published in 1947, Dorothy Sayers said, “Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the cradle and last at the cross. They had never known a man like this Man–there has never been such another.”