As Easter approaches, I’ve been thinking about the role women played during the last week of the Savior’s life. What can we learn from women who surrounded the Savior as He prepared for the most pivotal moment in history?
Six days before the Passover, three siblings named Mary, Martha, and Lazarus had the Savior and His apostles over for dinner. (BTW, I love that the Savior is sharing a meal with Lazarus—the man He brought back from the dead—just days before He Himself would be resurrected.) At some point during the gathering, Mary Magdalene took the time to clean and wipe the Savior’s feet.
Before we talk about this, let’s remember another meal hosted by Mary and her sister earlier in Christ’s ministry. It was then that Mary had sat at the Savior’s feet, and had learned to appreciate and understand the Savior’s role while her sister, Martha, chose to putter around cleaning and preparing things. As the Savior put it that day, Mary had “chosen that good part.” (See Luke 10: 38-42.)
I also want to bring up Martha. I feel like sometimes we look at Mary as the more “spiritual” of the two, but it’s important to remember that Martha was still trying her best by preparing a meal for the Savior. Also, when Lazarus died, it was Martha who testified of Jesus Christ’s power to raise her brother. (See John 11:22.) Martha, too, had learned to choose the good part and put her faith in her Savior.
Mary and Martha were both power-house women!
Now let’s go back to Mary, who again was “choosing the good part” as she washed the feet of the Son of God. (Washing feet was a common thing back then because the streets were full of dirt and everybody wore sandals, so their feet would get really dirty. Also, since the Jews sat at low tables, their feet were very close to their food, so they would get their feet washed before a meal.)
Mary washed the Savior’s feet with a special oil called spikenard, which was one of the most pricey and precious oils of the time. It was used back then to help with stress and anxiety. I like to think that Mary knew this as she took this oil and washed the Savior’s feet as He prepared for the greatest suffering in history. In his account of this evening, John tells us that Judas isn’t pleased with Mary using such an expensive oil, but the Christ reminds Him that she is taking the time to honor Him.
I also find it so interesting that just a few nights later, Christ would be the one washing feet on the night of the Passover. And after the Passover, the Savior’s own feet would become dirty once more walking to Gethsemane and then eventually Calvary, where they would be nailed to the cross on which Christ was crucified.
At the base of that cross stood another great woman named Mary, His mother. (And we know Mary Magdalene and other women were there as well, probably including Martha.) We don’t know as much about Mary as we’d like to, but from what is written in the scriptures, she was an incredible woman—so incredible that she was chosen to be the mother of the Son of God. She taught the Savior how to pray, took Him to the temple where he taught others, believed in His power as she asked Him to turn water into wine, and now stood at the base of the cross watching her Son die.
She was one of the only people there who truly knew, from the mouth of an angel, of her dying Child’s divine purpose on Earth. I can’t imagine the anguish and pain she must have felt to not only see the Man she knew was the Messiah hanging on the cross, but that that was also her Son—a Son who even in the final moments of His life showed His profound love and respect for Mary as He asked John to take care of her. Mary must have had incredible faith and trust in God’s plan.
After Christ dies, He is taken to the tomb, and there again were women who prepared spices and made sure is body was laid to rest well.
On what would become known as Easter morning, Mary Magdalene and others came to the tomb to anoint the Savior’s body with spices, and instead of Jesus they found an angel. The angel tells them that He is risen and tells them to tell the apostles the good news! (See Mark 16:1-8.) And after seeing the tomb empty it was Mary Magdalene who was first to see the resurrected Savior.
I am sure that there are more women that played a role during the Savior’s last week that we just don’t have record of, but even though we have only a few stories about Mary, Mary, and Martha, we can tell that they chose the good part time and time again because of where they chose to be during the Savior’s final week.
Just as women played a role then, we play a vital role now in the fullness of times. When we as women exercise the steadfastness of Mary, the devotion of Mary Magdalene, and the quiet faith of Martha, we choose the good part.
And as we devote ourselves to Him, we become more aware of His devotion to us. He is intimately involved in the unique concerns we have and our daily struggles as women. Not only did He die for us, but He lives for us! He loves us dearly—let us follow the devotion of these sisters of faith and choose the good part.
Subscribe to receive your free 8x10 downloadable print of "The Living Christ"