Many women were eyewitnesses to the crucifixion, “looking on from afar” as it says in Matthew 27:55. This text tells us they had “followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him.” Those named in the different Gospels include Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
Both Marys saw the body of Jesus removed from the cross, they saw where Jesus was laid in the tomb, and they witnessed the large stone rolled against the door of the tomb. Both arrived at dawn Sunday morning and saw the angel of the Lord descend and roll back the stone; and both met the risen Lord as they ran to tell the disciples the joyful news. These women, when confronted with the risen Christ, “held Him by the feet and worshiped Him” (vs. 9).
The Gospel of Mark also mentions Salome (15:40-41) at the cross and with the two Marys as they brought spices to anoint His body. Luke includes more women at the tomb in the morning: “Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them” (vs. 10).
It is only John, that disciple Jesus loved, who mentions that the Lord’s mother also stood by the cross (John 19:25). He tells us that Jesus spoke to her from the Cross, commissioning John to care for Mary from that day forward. The Lord’s mother did not look on from afar; she was by the cross, close enough that her Son could speak to her.
These women were on enemy turf. They stood among the Roman soldiers, identifying with the condemned, outnumbered by their enemies, and in the very midst of the most dangerous place in the world. Those women who looked on “from afar” were courageous, loyal women. Yet Mary, the Lord’s mother, was nearer still, right at her Son’s side to the end. This must have been the piercing of her own soul.
These women did not give way to fear. They stayed and witnessed the Lord’s death, and so must we. We must stand near these women who stood near the cross as Jesus died. They are good company. They did not ditch. They did not run away. They stayed and they watched. They saw Jesus laid in the tomb. And they were first up Sunday morning to greet Him.
Women are prone to fear, but not these women. They had been with Jesus, and they had ministered to Him. Nothing could keep them away. Not darkness, not death, not soldiers. These are our mothers in the faith, the women of Good Friday.