The Women Who Followed Jesus From Galilee

by Scarlett Stough

God gives a special emphasis to the presence of a company of women by the cross of Jesus. Their presence is in stark contrast to the apparent absence of The Twelve except for John who stood with Jesus’ mother, Jesus’ aunt, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the wife of Clopas.* These women had followed and served him from the beginning of his ministry in Galilee to his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection into the beginning of the first century church.

Luke names Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna who, along with other women cured of diseases and demonic oppression, traveled with Jesus and The Twelve. These women supported his ministry out of their own finances. (Luke 8:1-3, Matthew 27:55) Susanna is never mentioned again by name. Joanna, the wife of the manager of Herod's household, is named by Luke as one of the women who carried the message of the empty tomb back to the disciples. (Luke 24:10) Mary Magdalene is identified as the one out of whom seven demons was cast; she is never referred to in the Scriptures as a prostitute.

Matthew adds that Mary Magdalene was present among the women disciples at Jesus’ crucifixion. (Matthew 27:55-56) John tells us that she stood with him, Jesus’ mother, and at least two other women near enough to the cross to hear Jesus’ last words and to witness his death.

She is named by Matthew, Mark (Mark 16:1), Luke (Luke 23:55; 24:1-11) and John who all report that this Mary was among the women who prepared the burial spices to place on Jesus’ dead body. She was given the privilege of being the first to see and speak with the risen Christ, and to give the other disciples the good news that Jesus was alive. 

Mary Magdalene and all these other women followed Jesus because he had healed them. They believed his power to heal came from God. They followed Jesus without expecting to be given positions of power and authority over others. They didn't quibble over who got to be vice-king in the new administration of God's Kingdom under King Jesus. Instead of looking for free meals of bread and fish, they gave to him out of their own resources.

None of them deserted him when he appeared weak and defeated. They made plans to honor him by tending to his dead body. They grieved over his suffering and death; over the loss of a good man, not the loss of a potential king who they hoped would free Israel from Roman occupation. 

Luke gave us the detail that the women disciples of Jesus also waited in Jerusalem for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:14) They continued to serve him in the early church and suffered persecution for their faithfulness to Jesus their Messiah, their Lord and Savior.

These women did what needed to be done, not for personal gain or selfish ambition, but out of gratitude and a desire to give help. They model perseverance even when the cause seemed lost. They model devotion to our Lord and Savior. They model a willingness to take up their cross in the persecution they suffered. (Acts 8:1-4) They model community in their traveling and working together in the work of the Lord. Jesus himself commissioned them to be the first to announce the good news of his resurrection. We do not know the names of most of these women; but God knows who they are. These women, named and unnamed, did their work without hope of recognition in this life. Their hope in God was confirmed in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

*Some have speculated that Clopas may be the Cleopas of Luke 24:13-35 since there is only a minor variation in the spelling of the two names in Greek. If so, then Mary wife of Clopas, who stood at the foot of the cross could be the other disciple who spoke with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. 

For the Scripture References and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: Near the Cross of Jesus

Editors Note: this is a rerun from Volume 3, Issue 4.
Volume 10 Issue 3 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation | Book Review

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