The First Witnesses
The greatest evidence proving the supernatural character of Jesus Christ is nothing other than His resurrection. Nothing in history even remotely compares. He forecasted His death at least five times during His years of earthly ministry. He also informed the disciples that He would be resurrected and appear to them again. This specific promise was the foundational reason for why He came to earth. Romans 5:10 rightly states, “While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son.” The reality of this historical event enabled the transformative power of Christ to change the hearts and destinies of millions of people. His righteousness was accredited to everyone who believed is His sacrificial action. Christianity is not merely an ethical system or a speculative philosophy. It is a person. It is Jesus Christ.
The information given about the initial discovery of Christ’s resurrection is not to be overlooked as mere narrative. The Gospels homogeneously document the fact that an ensemble of women were the first to see the empty tomb. This is highly significant for a variety of reasons. This devotion will mention two. There were four basic criteria considered necessary in order that a testimony be deemed reliable: the witnesses must be competent, there must be a sufficient number, they must have a good reputation, AND, they had to be a man. Under no circumstances could they be a woman. In the first century, women were not eligible to testify in a Jewish court of law. Josephus said that even the witness of multiple women was not acceptable “because of the levity and boldness of their sex.”
The biblical account of the resurrection has come under intense scrutiny for more than a millennium by many in the world of academia. It has been characterized as a work of fiction and a writing of fable. As such, logic would seemingly dictate that the Bible should attempt to substantiate its claims about the resurrection against these critical attacks by strictly following judicial and legal norms. But this is not the case. Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24 and John 20 all document the discovery of the empty tomb being made by no less than four women. This information is completely counter-intuitive to the ancient Jewish world, and the ancient pagan world.
The fact women were the first to document the resurrection of Christ is a powerful apologetic reminder of the historical accuracy concerning the resurrection accounts. If these were “cleverly devised fables” (II Peter 1:16), women would never have been introduced as the original witnesses of the risen Christ. It would have been self-defeating. But Jesus Himself, even as the women held fast to His feet in worship, commissioned them to return to the city and inform the disciples of the resurrection. This simple instruction also affirmed the full dignity of women and the vital value of their witness. Blogger Rachel Evans captured this reality with her words, “Christ ushered in this new era of life and liberation in the presence of women, and that He sent them out as the first witnesses of the complete gospel story, is perhaps the boldest, most overt affirmation of their equality in His kingdom that Jesus ever delivered.”
Reading and remembering the resurrection story should be a lifelong practice for every Christian. The next time you read this account don’t ignore the testimony of the women as being merely a supplementary detail. It is among the greatest theological reminders that the kingdom of Jesus Christ completely renovated the system of the world.