A few months ago, I sat around a table as the only woman in the company of all men, thinking about the message of Christmas. We discussed details of the Christmas story, and one mentioned “that woman who was in the temple, and recognized Jesus as Messiah when He was an infant.”
“Anna”, I said.
“Her name is Anna. She was a prophetess and a widow, who was only married seven years and spent the rest of her life devoted to the temple in worship through fasting and prayer night and day. Her name is Anna.” (Luke 2:36-38)
While she may have seemed insignificant, perhaps even seen as unnamed and unimportant, she wasn’t to me. Long ago, I started to recognize and remember the names of women mentioned in Scripture. Each time I read Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Leah, Hannah, Anna, Mary I tucked it away in my heart. God was revealing to me although women were insignificant in biblical times, they were not insignificant to Jesus.
They had names.
They had significant roles in advancing the Kingdom.
They were treasured by the Father.
Jesus, the Redeemer, the Messiah, is worshipped early on by a woman named Anna. A woman, who would recognize Jesus as an infant that He is the Messiah and Redeemer, worships Him, then tell others about Him.
Jesus, the Christ, the forgiver of sins confesses He is the Messiah for the first time to a woman at the well. She sees her sin and sees His grace, and she, this unnamed scandalous woman, becomes an evangelist and runs into town to tell others about Him.
In preparing for Passion Week, Jesus is anointed for death, by a woman. While the others were preparing for a meal, Mary of Bethany in extravagant worship, kneels down and with her perfume and tears, anoints Jesus, recognizing He is the sacrificial lamb about to be slaughtered. Her extravagant act of worship reveals her incredible understanding of God.
Alone, on the cross, in excruciating pain, deserted, beaten, betrayed, Jesus looks down to see the last 3 of his faithful followers, John, his mother Mary, and Mary Magdalene.
Mary Magdalene is the first to see the empty tomb. Mary Magdalene, a woman, one of the lowliest in society, tells us of the One who has been lifted up. She is the first to proclaim the gospel, the good news of the resurrection, and shares the greatest message known to mankind.
He is not here . . . for He is risen.
From the womb of a woman Jesus is brought to life, the Word made flesh. From the eyes of a woman, Jesus is recognized as Messiah. From the hands (and tears) of a woman Jesus is anointed for death, the sacrificial lamb, and by the mouth of a woman Jesus is proclaimed, the risen King.
These names, and these stories may seem small, perhaps even insignificant to many. Not to me. As a woman, I see mothers in the faith who were loyal and devoted to Christ Jesus, our King. I see women who played their part in advancing the Kingdom. I see Jesus lavishing love, grace, and dignity on women in a time when they would have been seen as insignificant.
These women played an important role in Jesus life, death, and resurrection. What a privilege to carry on the legacy as daughters, sisters, mothers, and colaborers in Christ.