I know that my Redeemer lives.
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead; He lives, my ever-living Head.
- Samuel Medley, “I Know that My Redeemer Lives,” 1775
The women woke before dawn, quickly dressed, and gathered their fresh spices in woven-reed baskets. Finally the time had come.
Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise. - Mark 16:2
The hour is described in precise detail—“very early in the morning” (WE), “just as the sun was coming up” (CEV). John’s gospel adds “while it was still dark,” capturing that brief moment when the heavens were still a velvety dark blue and only a hint of daylight brushed the eastern sky.
I’m not usually up and about that early, but on mornings when I wake before dawn, I find myself gazing out our kitchen window, awed by the swiftly changing colors. The whole day stands on tiptoe, awash in pinks and yellows, waiting for the sun to crest the horizon. It’s only a matter of minutes, but oh those minutes! Charged with anticipation, filled with hope.
A new day. Anything might happen.
Scientists are quick to remind us that the sun doesn’t actually rise. We, on our spinning planet, are the ones moving in the direction of the sun. That’s exactly what the women of Easter were doing: moving in the direction of the Son.
. . . they were on their way to the tomb . . . Mark 16:2
Light hurrying to meet the darkness. Life hastening to find the dead.
Was there ever such a morning in the history of the world?
Mark’s gospel tells us that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went spice shopping on Saturday night. (Mark 16:1) But in this verse we’re simply told “they came to the tomb” (LEB). Shall we assume it’s the same three women?
Luke’s gospel talks about “the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee” (Luke 23:55) at the end of one chapter and then begins the next with “the women took the spices they had prepared.” (Luke 24:1) If Luke meant all the women from Galilee, that would have been quite a number, and Mary of Nazareth would likely have been counted among them.
Matthew’s gospel mentions only two women: “Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, came to see the sepulcher.” (Mt. 28:1 GNV) And John’s gospel names just one woman: “Mary Magdalene went to the tomb.” (John 20:1)
We know the Bible is the very definition of truth. So how can we explain these differing accounts?
Simply put, they offer four points of view of the same scene. If a woman isn’t mentioned by name, it doesn’t mean she wasn’t there—only that she wasn’t noted in Scripture.
If someone asks you, “Who did you see at church on Sunday?” you might mention two or three people by name, even though dozens or hundreds were there. You saw them but didn’t include them in your comments.
I think John featured Mary Magdalene because, before the morning was over, she was the one who proclaimed the good news to the disciples. Matthew probably added “the other Mary” since she remained with Mary Magdalene at the tomb on Friday evening. Mark and Luke didn’t include any names at this point in their accounts, yet—and this is what matters—all four gospel writers agreed the witnesses were women.
Think of it! Jesus Christ—the Holy One, the King of kings, the Savior of the world—was conquering death at that very moment. The dozen men who’d traveled everywhere with Him were nowhere to be seen. But the women—the few, the faithful, the resourceful—were headed to the grave for one simple reason.
The Lord wanted them there.
Our sovereign God didn’t leave a single moment of His Son’s resurrection to chance. He knew before the beginning of time that these women would be the first to know, the first to see. The male disciples weren’t neglecting their duties. They weren’t called to be there.
God chose women to serve as His witnesses to this day. Yes, He did.
Excerpted from THE WOMEN OF EASTER. Copyright © 2017 by Liz Curtis Higgs. Published by WaterBrook, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Liz Curtis Higgs is a Bible teacher and the author of more than 30 books with 4.6 million copies in print, including her million-selling series, Bad Girls of the Bible. Her most recent books are 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart and The Women of Easter, from which this excerpt was taken. She and her husband, Bill Higgs, share their life together in a 19th century farmhouse in Louisville, Kentucky. Visit her at www.LizCurtisHiggs.com.