1 But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 3 So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.
5 The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”
8 Then they remembered that he had said this. 9 So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples — and everyone else — what had happened. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what had happened. 11 But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it. 12 However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings; then he went home again, wondering what had happened.
One of the things all four Gospels agree on is that women were first to learn about and proclaim the resurrection of Jesus. Mary Magdalene is present in all four tellings. She is alone in John, but goes along with the other Mary in Mark and Matthew. Mark also includes Salome. Luke has both Marys, Joanna, and several other unnamed women. These are likely the same women who supported Jesus’ ministry, who remained at the cross through his crucifixion (unlike his male followers), who then came to care for his body as soon as their Sabbath restriction was lifted. They showed a good deal more concern, care, and initiative than any of the male disciples. They also remember Jesus’ teaching once the angel reminds them, which indicates they were more than submissive servants. They were active participants in Jesus’ ministry, helping inaugurate the kingdom. They are the first preachers of the Gospel. What they preached sounded like so much noise to the men, not because of a defect in their preaching, but because the men had hearts full of doubt (Jesus will say this later in this chapter). Closed minds, hearts, and ears prevented these men from hearing the wonderful message of Jesus’ great news. At least they moved Peter enough to go check out what they were talking about.
It’s sad how this sounds very much like the church in America today, where women are routinely forbidden from fulfilling their calls to preach the Gospel, for no other reason than their gender (and despite often showing more concern, care, and initiative, just as their first century sisters did) . This is done in the name of complimentarianism – the idea that men are suited for some activities while women are suited for others. That’s a nice, nostalgic idea, but in practice it always means denying women from preaching the Gospel, from teaching, from leading – basically from doing any of the things men want to do. Women turn out to be “suited” for the sort of things (some) men don’t like doing: serving in the nursery, teaching kids classes, cleaning, etc. How convenient. Except it’s a lie.
The truth is God made humans in his own image. Both male and female were created in the image and likeness of God. This is how it was in the beginning before our sin screwed things up. Gender inequality is always a sign of sin. Then Jesus came and brought us into the kingdom of God. In Christ there is no male or female, Gentile or Jew, slave or free. All inequalities cease when the kingdom comes. Throughout his Gospel, Luke consistently showed women in a positive light, even at times as a picture of what God is like (e.g., woman searching for her coin in ch. 15). Here at the end, he completes his theme by giving the entire band of women followers the place of preeminence in preaching the good news of Jesus’ resurrection. If we are going to follow Jesus, if we are going to live biblically, if we are going to participate in the kingdom, then we have to embrace full gender equality in the church. Anything less is a capitulation to sin and a denial of the power of Jesus and his kingdom.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.