04.29.14

WOW: Women of the Word

I was born and raised in First Baptist Church of Woodland Park.  It was a small, unassuming, country church. Most of the pastors who served there lived in the city, usually at least 50 miles away. Like most churches in those days, men lead the church, but women were the backbone of the beloved community, ever present and joyfully serving. The women served not only in the kitchen, but also taught Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, held Bible Studies in their homes, and witnessed the gospel in the community. I was reminded of those faithful women again as I recently reflected upon the resurrection of Jesus as told to us in .

A look at the account of the Resurrection in shows us how God delights to use women to proclaim his word. The women gathered at the empty tomb on that resurrection morning were blessed. They were the first to see the resurrected Lord.  They were the first to believe in the resurrected Lord. They were the first to proclaim the resurrected Lord.

Women were staples in the life of Jesus. From beginning to end, and all points in between, women were present and important to the life and ministry of our Lord. Therefore, though it was not the normal thing to expect, it should not surprise us at the Resurrection of Jesus there were women – Women of the Word.

After the crucifixion of Christ, you can only imagine the confusion, the chaos, and even how inconsolable most of his disciples were, especially the ladies. Jesus had meant so much to them. In the days of Christ, a Jewish man was taught to pray and thank God everyday for three things:  for not being a Gentile, for not being a slave, and for not being a woman. 

In that culture, women were objects, property to be used, literally a necessary inconvenience. They had very few rights, and little to no moral authority in the community. No serious teacher at that time would have gathered women as his disciples.  It just didn’t happen. Yet Jesus was different. He was a radical rabbi.

Many women were counted among his disciples (). Jesus loved women. No one treated women with more respect and honor than Jesus did. Women were cherished. With Jesus they experienced dignity and significance. From his mother Mary, to the woman at the well, to the woman caught in adultery, the sisters Mary and Martha, Mary Magdelene, Joanna, and many others, they all loved Jesus because Jesus loved them.

I am convinced that one of the reasons Jesus called so many women to be among his disciples was because he knew what side of the bread his butter would be on.  I recall once talking with an elderly gentleman and he asked me how many kids I had. I told him we had five kids, one boy and four girls. He immediately informed me as to how blessed I was. He went on to tell me that in later years your son may forget about you, but never your daughters.  They will always be faithful to daddy. Jesus must have known this to be true.  He was grooming the men for leadership, but he knew it would be the women who would be faithful. This is what the Bible reminds us in .

According to the Scriptures, early on that eventful Sunday morning, following the death of Jesus, the women came to the tomb of Jesus ().  These were familiar women. They had been with Jesus. They were not Joannas-come-lately.  They were not just hanging around. They had participated in the ministry of Christ. In fact, tells us that these are some of the same women who provided the means for Jesus and the apostles to do the work of the ministry.  What means did they provide? In the immortal words of Randy Moss, “Straight cash, homie!”

These women not only gave of they time, but they gave their heart and thus treasure to Jesus as well. Therefore, it should be no surprise that they are present on that resurrection morning. They are women of action. The text tells us that they were WOW – Women of the Word.

These women came to the tomb looking to minister to their Lord. However, instead of seeing the Savior, they were greeted by angels. The word “angel” means messenger  And like other angels in the Bible, they brought a word from God to these ladies. Accordingly, the text tells us that these women did three things:  they received the word, they recalled the word, and they retold the word.

First, They Received the Word. “As they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the (angels) spoke to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen…” (v. 5-6).

“First, they received the word.”

Notice how they received the word.They received the word with fear and humility.This is the only way to truly receive the word of God. They received with fear because it is a word from God, not the word of men. The Bible tells us over and over again that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (; ; ).  They also received it with humility. It was a word first and foremost for them. How often have I heard a sermon or been in a class and thought about who else should be hearing this word. I’ve looked around and thought of people who needed this word preached to them. Yet, humility demands that I see that word is for me first and foremost.

Notice also the word they received.  It was the word of the Resurrected Christ.  “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen” (v. 5). They came looking for a dead Jesus. They received the good news: Christ is alive! And you don’t look for living things among the dead.

Second, They Recalled the Word. The angels said, “Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.And they remembered his words. (v. 7-8)

Jesus had told his disciples on several occasions that he was going to suffer, die, and three days later he would be raised again (). Even though they did not understand it at first, what Jesus told them was implanted in their heart because at the appointed time the Holy Spirit brought it back to their remembrance ().

No doubt they rejoiced in recalling the words of Christ, and having the angels confirm God’s word in their lives. Like these women, often I have found myself days, weeks, months, and even years later recalling a sermon, teaching, or a verse I heard in the past, and rejoicing that Holy Spirit would bring it to my remembrance when I need it most. Few things are more satisfying and encouraging to your faith than recalling the Word preached at the right time.

Third, They Retold the Word. “And returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdelene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles” (v. 9-10). These women did not just receive and remember the word; they also proclaimed the Word.

These ladies were the first gospel evangelists. And yet they were the most unlikely evangelists. Who would believe the testimony of these women? They had not credibility, reputation, social standing, or authority. But isn’t that just like God, who “chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” ().

These women were of no reputation. So what! What does God care about that? You and I make much of reputation and influence. Not God. These women had the power of God. They had the word of God and they ran to tell others, “Jesus is alive!”

Someone once asked me what women were allowed to do at East Point Church? Knowing what they were really asking (namely are women allowed to preach), I responded by saying women are no different from anyone else.  A woman at East Point Church can do whatever God calls her to do.

“These ladies were the first gospel evangelists.”

Now, obviously the Bible clearly teaches that the eldership and pastoral leadership in the church is reserved for men ().  Still, the pastor and elder are not the only ones called upon to share and proclaim the good news of Christ. Teaching and preaching happens in a variety of settings (inside and outside the church), and in many of those settings God delights to give his message to women who will faithfully and passionately proclaim the truths of the resurrected Savior without assuming authority over a man (). On the first Resurrection Sunday, these women were called on to proclaim the good news of the resurrection to the apostles. And they did so faithfully.

The Bible makes no apology for promoting male leadership in the home and the church. And therefore, we mustn’t either. Yet, women, like all of us, should be encouraged at home and in the church to receive the word, remember the word, and retell the word wherever and whenever God calls them to do it.

As I read and reflect upon this text, I can’t help but say to myself, Wow! What a wonderful story the Bible tells of these ladies. Wow! What a beautiful testimony they give to us.  Wow! What a power example they set – not just for women, but also for all of us. And ultimately, Wow! What a Savior we have. He delights to demonstrate his love, power, and Word through all of us, especially faithful, believing women. WOW!

24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened. (ESV)

24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God. (ESV)

40 There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem. (ESV)

24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God. (ESV)

24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. (ESV)

and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, (ESV)

28 And he said to man,
‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
and to turn away from evil is understanding.’” (ESV)

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever! (ESV)

for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.

Proverbs 9:10

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. (ESV)

31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Mark 9:31

31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.”

Mark 10:33-34

33 saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” (ESV)

26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (ESV)

27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (ESV)

3:1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. (ESV)

12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. (ESV)

Tony Carter
Tony Carter serves as the Lead Pastor of East Point Church. Tony is married to his beloved, Adriane Carter, and their marriage has bore the fruit of five wonderful children. Holler at him on Twitter: @eastpc

C’mon Up!