The Women of Easter: Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth, and Mary Magdalene by Liz Curtis Higgs, as the title suggests, tells the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection through the eyes of these three Marys.
Liz lays out the narrative in eight chapters. I chose to read one a week most of the weeks leading up to Easter.
We learn about each of the the Marys. Mary of Bethany and the famous incident with her sister, Martha, the death and resurrection of her brother, Lazarus, and her anointing the feet of Jesus with expensive ointment, wiping them with her hair. Mary of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus. Mary Magdalene, out of whom Jesus cast seven demons (Luke 8:2) (and who is never called a harlot or prostitute in the Bible, though movie writers like to depict her that way).
Liz seamlessly weaves their stories in with the last several days Jesus spent on earth, using multitudes of Scripture references in different translations and snippets from commentaries. I can’t imagine all the study she did before writing this book.
Here are just a few quotes:
When Jesus “no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea” (John 11:54) because people were after Him:
Jesus was neither afraid of them nor avoiding them. He was simply acting according to His Father’s will. Whenever my prayers are answered with a firm directive to wait, I remind myself that even Jesus had times of waiting, and more than once He did so in a desolate place.
Of Mary of Bethany’s wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair:
This devout follower, this beloved sister, used her long hair to dry a man’s feet—the “lowest job for the lowliest servant.” … Her perfume wasn’t the only thing she sacrificed. Mary laid her whole being before Him: her pride, her reputation, her social standing, her clean hands, her pure heart. She asked nothing of Him, sought no sign of approval, begged for no favors. Confident of His love and acceptance, she simply gave, expecting nothing in return.
When the disciples (not just Judas) rebuked Mary for her extravagance:
They didn’t just wag their fingers at her. They “scolded” (CEB) and “criticized” (GNT); they “censured and reproved” (AMPC). With no concern for her feelings, “they told the woman what a bad thing she had done” (ERV). Poor Mary of Bethany! To share something holy and then to be treated cruelly, not by strangers, but by those who knew her and claimed to know Christ.
Jesus offered a rebuke of His own, aimed not at Mary but at the disciples. “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. John 12: 7
During the triumphal entry (Palm Sunday):
Worship isn’t a task. Worship is a response.
In preparation for the Passover:
Part of trusting God is letting go of our need to know and refusing to fret over the who, what, when, where, and why. When the time comes, the Lord will inform us, just as He did His disciples.
In a passage about Jesus being beaten:
During Lent it’s tempting to hurry toward Easter morning, eager to declare, “He is risen!” Yes, He certainly is. But reminding ourselves what came before His glorious victory over death is how we remain humbled by His sacrifice and grateful for His mercy. We were “bought at a price.” This was the cost.
On the way to the cross …
Jesus stopped to speak to the women. He sees us, beloved. He values us. He cherishes us. On that day He spoke a word of prophecy to these daughters, preparing them for even harder days to come.
When Jesus was buried:
“The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it.” Luke 23:55. Really, have you ever seen such perseverance? They stayed and they stayed and they stayed. This is one of the most important lessons these women teach us. Wherever He leads, follow Jesus. Whatever pain you are enduring, keep your eyes on Jesus. Even when hope seems gone, stay close to Jesus.
After the resurrection:
Woman. The first word spoken by the risen Christ, meant for all His daughters throughout eternity. Woman. An assurance that we matter to Him, that we count for His kingdom. Woman. A term of respect. The very word He used when addressing His beloved mother from the cross. Woman.
There were just a couple of places where I put a question mark, not sure if her observation or comment was exactly right. But I don’t recall that those points were anything major.
This book was a great way to prepare for Easter week. I’m sure I will use it again in the future. But, of course, it’s good reading year round since Christ’s death and resurrection affect us every day.
(Sharing with InstaEncouragement, Worth Beyond Rubies, Let’s Have Coffee,
Grace and Truth, Global Blogging, Senior Salon, Hearth and Soul, Happy Now,
InstaEncouragement, Carole’s Books You Loved, Booknificent Thursday)