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4 Courageous Women and the Roles They Played in the Easter Story

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As we celebrate the cross and resurrection this Easter, let’s also remember the courageous women who made this powerful story truly inspiring.


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When we talk about the Easter story, we think of the big events. The Last Supper, Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, the cross, the empty tomb. But we rarely consider the women who courageously shaped the Easter story and how we read it today.

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Here are four heroic women that shaped the Easter story. (Heads up: three of these women are named Mary. It was a common Jewish name. Sorry for the confusion.)

Mary—The Patron

Mary (Lazarus and Martha’s sister) is sometimes dismissively thought of as overly emotional. Often when she is mentioned in Scripture, she is sitting at Jesus’ feet, praying or weeping. But far from fragile, Mary constantly and boldly acted in defiant worship, blessing Jesus in the most extravagant of ways without a care for what others thought of her.

And her role in the Easter story was no different. Mary took a bottle of perfume which was valued at a year’s wages and emptied it on Jesus’ feet.

Far from fragile, Mary constantly and boldly acted in defiant worship, blessing Jesus in the most extravagant of ways without a care for what others thought of her.

She knew she would get looks and comments. She knew it seemed wasteful. But Mary wanted to support and serve Jesus every way that she could. She was a patron, and would be until the day He died.

The disciples tried to shame her. “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” But Mary ignored them.

Jesus responded to them, “Why are you bothering her?… She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial,” (Mark 14:6-8).

4 Courageous Women and the Roles They Played in the Easter Story

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Pilate’s Wife—The Advocate

Only one verse in the Bible mentions Pilate’s wife. We don’t even know her name. But in that one verse we learn all we need to know about her.

Pilate adjudicated on the trial of Jesus. He had the power to have him executed. But his wife sent a message to him: “Have nothing to do with that righteous man…” (Matthew 27:19).

Pilate’s wife advocated for Jesus, knowing the political pressure that her husband faced which could have even resulted in a riot, putting their family at risk.

Mary, Jesus’ Mother—The Campaigner

Mary was always by her son’s side, supporting Him. In the most uncertain and painful moments, she was there.

From the time when Jesus was a baby and Simeon prophesied to her that Jesus would one day be “A sign that will be rejected”, and that, “a sword will pierce your own soul as well” (Luke 2:34-35), she remained faithful. And that never changed, no matter what challenges to her faith that she experienced.

There is one word that describes these women who stood by Jesus side no matter the cost: courageous.

And then, at the moment of Jesus’ death, when all His disciples deserted Him, Mary stood at the cross, looking up at a broken and bloodied body which no longer resembled her son. But she stayed. No matter how painful it was.

She was His campaigner until the end, always compelling others to “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5). And her story still calls us to do the same.

Mary Magdalene—The Preacher

Mary Magdalene is one of the most prominent characters of the Easter story. She was there at the cross when Jesus was crucified, she was at the tomb when He was buried and she was at the empty grave when He had risen. She was the first one to see Jesus after He rose from the dead.

She was actually the first preacher of the gospel. She is often called the apostle to the apostles because she is the one who told the apostles that Jesus was alive.

Gospel heroines.

After Jesus was taken to be crucified, the only disciple mentioned at the cross was John. As far as we know, all the other disciples abandoned Him. But these women were there, often in the background, shaping the Easter story we celebrate today. They were like guardian angels, watching over Jesus until the end.

There is one word that describes these women who stood by Jesus side no matter the cost: courageous.

They stayed when everyone else left. They spoke when everyone else was silent. They believed when everyone else doubted.

This Easter, let’s remember the courageous heroines who stood by Jesus’ side, and let’s strive to be more like them.