Jesus elevates the standing of women and treats them as equal to men
As the book of Matthew winds down, we see in chapter 28 that Jesus rises from the dead, appears to his followers, and ascends into heaven. As he arises, he leaves us with the Great Commission: to go throughout the world and tell others about him.
In reading this chapter it’s easy to miss something that seems trivial but is actually a huge deal. When Jesus rises from the dead, who are the first people he appears to? He first reveals his risen form to a group of women. I think this is intentional. Here’s what happens.
Jesus’s body is placed in the tomb. After the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene and another Mary go to the tomb to ceremonially prepare Jesus’s corpse for a proper burial. What they encounter shocks them.
The earth quakes. An angel opens the tomb and sits there. He tells the women not to be afraid, that Jesus isn’t there and has risen from the dead. The angel shows them the empty tomb and tells them to let the other disciples know.
Jesus’s First Missionaries are Female
Jesus’s victory over death is huge news. This accomplishes what he came to earth to do. Everyone needs to know. He chooses women to carry this all-important message to his followers.
However, the culture of the day didn’t give any credence to the testimony of females. It was a male-dominated society. Women were treated as second-class citizens. Imagine that: The world’s most important news ever is delivered by people the culture overlooks and even dismisses.
But by his example, both during his life and after his resurrection, Jesus seeks to change that. He considers women fairly. He treats them as equals to men. His attitude and actions toward women is counter-cultural for the day.
Jesus May Have Been the First Feminist
Though feminism is a loaded term—that means different things to different people—the dictionary tells us that feminism is believing in and advocating for the equality of women.
Though much has changed in the 2,000 years since, there is still more work to do. We, both male and female, should follow Jesus’s example and pursue gender equality. After all, both men and women are his children. He loves us all just the same. We should do likewise.
Learn about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in e-book, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.