Why Didn’t The Women Run?


The men who followed Jesus dropped everything to follow him. For three years, they saw him perform many miracles. They heard him teach. They saw signs from the heavens. They knew he was the Messiah and yet when the soldiers showed up, they ran.

It was the women who kept vigil at the foot of the cross. It was the women who went to the tomb. It was a woman who first saw Jesus after the resurrection.

In all fairness the men had reason to run. The Pax Romana was a violent, bloody, oppressive affair. Had they hung around or interfered, chances are they’d have been killed as well.

But the women stayed. Why? Why risk the wrath of the Roman soldiers? Why risk the wrath of the Jewish community? Let’s not forget women could be stoned for stepping out of line. What did they see in Jesus that they would place themselves in harm’s way just to be by his side in his darkest hours?

Over the years of Jesus’ ministry, there isn’t the power play amongst the women that there was amongst the men. They aren’t vying for a favored position by Jesus’ side for the simple reason that they were women. They had no position. Ever. Women were property. They were used and discarded at the whim of men. They were invisible and voiceless. The fact they were allowed at table with Jesus to hear him teach was in and of itself an unheard breach of protocol. While there is no doubt the men loved him and believed in him, the men who followed Jesus had an agenda: to see Israel rise again. For the women, this agenda meant little. They would still be invisible, voiceless property whether under Roman rule or in a new Israel. The patriarchal society would ensure that remain unchanged.

I’m no biblical scholar, but as a woman I know what it feels like to be invisible and to be voiceless. I know what it feels like to be used and discarded at the whim of men. I also know how it feels to be seen and that is a powerful experience. When you have lost all touch with your own value and humanity, to have another see it in you and gently reflect it back to you is nothing short of miraculous. And that is what Jesus did for them. He saw them as individuals, not objects. He even saw great good even in those society had already condemned. That is not something one forgets. Ever.

While the men loved Jesus as a beloved friend and teacher, they had to come to terms with not only his capture and crucifixion but the death of their agenda, the death of their dream of a new Israel, their guilt at abandoning one whom they had loved and served. They also had to deal with their well-founded fear of repercussions.

And here lies the difference, the women loved Jesus for who he was, not for what he could be. The women saw him for what he was – he was Love Incarnate who saw them when they were invisible to anyone else and embraced them. And because they were open to his love as only the invisible and discarded can be, they in their own human way tried to do for him what he had done for them: to be there for him in love even when society had condemned him and to show him their love in whatever way they could even if all they could do was to stand at the foot of his cross and weep.

It was love alone that brought them there and kept them there. Love is the only power strong enough to have brought the women through their fear and given them the courage to stand by through the horrors of the crucifixion and the long dark hours of the day after. They trusted him to keep his word to return to them. They would not be disappointed.

The Empty Bench


One of my friends posted a photo of an empty bench on Facebook.  The question posed was simple enough. If you could sit on that bench and talk to anyone, past or present, for one hour, who would it be?

Interesting question.

Jesus?  We talk all day every day already – would be nice to see His eyes – but that day will come soon enough.

My dad?  The hour would be nice but I don’t think I could say good-bye again. The first time was hard enough.

My sister?  I wouldn’t change a second of our last conversation.  I didn’t know that good-bye would be our last and I have a slew of questions I’d love to ask her but ultimately her journey was hers and mine is mine so those answers really wouldn’t change much.

So who would I most want to talk to?

Me.  At 16.

Not 19 when I threw up my hands at God and told Him to take a hike.

Not 21 when I was getting ready to marry.

But 16, when I really started to listen to and even believe those voices that said I wasn’t good enough.  Would I tell myself not to do some of the incredibly stupid things I did or maybe do the things I was too afraid to do at the time?  Nope. I learn best when I learn the hard way and I wouldn’t be who I am now except to have traveled the road I have.

So what would I tell Me at 16?

That English teacher who told you that you can’t write is an idiot.  Don’t listen to him.  Listen to the dozens of others who say otherwise.

That nun who keeps trying to get you to talk about Dad – she actually does care.  You might want to talk to her.  At the very least, stop yelling at her.

That nun who told you to always question authority, she has your back.  It really is okay to trust her.

It’s okay to admit you need help and to ask for it. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength.

All those days when you feel like you’ll go crazy or die if you don’t sneak off to be by yourself for awhile? Sneak off. Your gut is right. You need time alone with God to heal.

You’re going to get really, really pissed off at God. Go ahead and scream at Him. No lightning strikes – well at least not up to 41 anyway. If that changes, I’ll let you know.

That big long list of stuff you’re so afraid you won’t be able to get through? You will get through. Not without a lot of tears but tears won’t kill you. Honest, they won’t. It will get messy. It will get hard. It will get very, very ugly and you will be scared out of your mind on more than one occasion. But when it gets messy and hard and ugly and you’re convinced you’re about to break, you’re going to dig down deep into a well of grace and strength that you don’t even know you have and you will come out the other side of hell. Brush the ashes off. Don’t be ashamed of your scars. They’ll tell your story more eloquently than any words you’ll ever find.

I know you don’t believe me but God knows what He’s doing. More than that He knows what you’re doing and He’ll make that work in His own weird way of doing things. Just accept the fact that you can’t possibly screw up beyond His ability to make it work in the end. Life is hard enough Sweetheart, don’t make it harder.

And what does Me at 16 think of all this? She thinks I’m crazy as hell and she’ll do it all the hard way anyway. Because she is, after all, Me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.