Eastertide – The Women

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

Eastertide is a new term for me. It applies to the forty days between Easter and Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit. So let’s spend time reflecting on those days after the crucifixion.

We talked a few months ago about the way Jesus elevated the position of women from shame to honor. We see God doing that very thing again in the days after the resurrection—the women played a vital roll.

When Jesus breathed his last, the centurion . . .

. . . praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” Luke 23:47

Many of the men “beat their breasts” in a sign of anguish.

But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. Luke 23:49

They lingered to see what would happen next. It would have taken some time for Joseph of Arimathea to go to Pilate to ask for the body, but the women were still there, waiting. Then,

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Luke 23:35

Why? So they would know where to come to prepare the body with spices and perfumes. Since the Sabbath was about to begin that Friday evening, they wouldn’t be able to do their work until Sunday morning.

Who were these women? They were those who had followed Jesus from time to time to help in the ministry, perhaps by caring for the people or preparing food for Jesus and his twelve disciples as well as other followers. Several women helped, but three were specifically named in Matthew and Mark. Perhaps these three served as  leaders.

Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. Matthew 27:56

Mark calls the second Mary, the mother of James the younger or as “The Chosen” puts it, James the short one. (big James and little James) The third woman is likely Salome, the mother of (big) James and John.  

Once Sabbath was over and true to their duty, the women went to the tomb early Sunday morning with their spices. It dawned on them that they would have trouble rolling that huge stone away from the tomb. To their amazement, they found the stone already rolled away, then they saw an angel with stunning white clothes. Luke tells us that the women “bowed down with their faces to the ground.” As with any angel appearance in the Bible, the first thing the angel must say is, “Do not be afraid—

“. . . for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead.'” Matthew 28:5-7

May that message continue to resonate with us long after our Easter celebrations. He is risen. He is risen indeed!

~ Joyce ~

JOY – the Shepherds

    Searching His Word, Seeking His Heart

Shepherds? Dirty smelly shepherds? What are they doing in this story of the birth of the Son of God? After all, they’re not even fit to testify in a court of law.

Of course, Temple leaders were glad to purchase their sheep for Temple sacrifices—and earn money in the process when they sold the sheep.

Yet, these keepers of the flocks are the very ones to whom the angel appeared to bear the news of the Savior.

Imagine the shock of those shepherds when they were aroused by the brilliant light of the angel on that dark, sleepy night. Like other angelic visitations, the shepherds were startled.

“Do not be frightened,” the angel said. “I bring you good news of great JOY. Today in the town of David [Bethlehem] a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

“Christ” is the Greek word for “Messiah.” This is big stuff, my friends. The shepherds may not have been learned men of the ancient texts, but they did know what this meant.

Now just to make a more human connection for them, they were given a sign to help them see for themselves. (Note—it was not the star. That was given to the Magi.)

“You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12

As if they weren’t totally awed by this angel, a heavenly host of angels appeared, filling the skies with more brilliance, declaring their praise to God and peace to those who believe.

We don’t know if the angels suddenly disappeared or flew away a few at a time. But when they were all gone and it was a dark night again, I wonder if the shepherds sat stunned for a few moments wondering if they really saw what they thought they saw. 

A light bulb may have flipped on in one of their minds as if suddenly remembering the sign. “Let’s go down to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened.” Imagine their hearts pumping as they took off in a run.

Where would they go? I’d say manger to manger, looking for a baby. No one else would put a newborn in a feeding trough. So, if they found a baby in one of these stables, that would definitely be the one.

When they tip-toed quietly into the stable, they told their story. This wasn’t the dazzling JOY they had experienced on the hillside. No, this was heartfelt, fall-to-your-knees kind of JOY that brings tears to your eyes.

They left the stable and spread the word of all the things they had seen and heard.

. . . and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. Luke 2:18

God sent the news of His sacrificial lamb to the shepherds of lambs. Years later, Jesus declared himself the good shepherd.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

The shepherd to lead you, the sacrificial lamb to save you. Blessed be his holy name. Merry Christmas.

~ Joyce ~