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I'm not a scholar, but I am a woman. Let me tell you what this means to me. I came to Christianity, for real, only less than 10 years ago. A friend, who has to be described as a fundamentalist Christian, walked the first part of the journey with me, and was brave enough to engage in a lot of no holds barred discussions. At one point, I told him that it appeared that women were treated as second class citizens and I wasn't sure I could follow a God that thought that way. He set out to find a scriptural proof that God wasn't a male chauvinist. He came back to me, with obvious regret and confusion, and said he couldn't find what I needed. My faith, at that time, was at a point where I could say, "That's ok. I believe that God is just and I believe the evidence is there. I believe I can find it." So, I started to read and study. What I found was that, in a male dominated society, Jesus had time for women. He first revealed that he was the Messiah not just to a woman, but to a Samaritan woman! She should have been the ultimate second class citizen, but he revealed his truth to her, directly, before anyone else! I know there's a lot of confusion about which Mary was which. I'm not sure the details matter. Mary Magdalene is describes as having had 7 demons cast out of her. I doubt that caused her to be held in high esteem. But, Jesus had time for her. He allowed women to sit as his feet and learn, right along with the men. He allowed the touch of a woman who was "unclean" and called her a "daughter of Abraham". My impression is that was pretty radical. So, imagine that you are such a second class citizen that your testimony doesn't even count as a "person" in court. And then, this teacher enters your life who accepts you and values you. The answer wasn't so much in Jesus' words as in his deeds. Another example of "by their works you will know them."
So, it doesn't surprise me that nearly all of the few that stood at the base of the cross were women. It doesn't surprise me to see them coming to his grave, alone. It was dangerous to be a follower of someone who'd been crucified. You can't really blame the men for playing it safe. But,what the women had lost was so much MORE. Freedom, respect, the acknowledgement that they counted for something.... You can't turn away from that. You HAVE to follow him, even to the foot of the cross and beyond. I'm not sure I can convey the depth of the meaning of this.... In a way, I came to feel sorry of the men of scripture and some of the men in our society today. If you've always been a "first class citizen" maybe it's harder to get the point. In the end, Mary Magdalene, showed me just how "Good" Jesus was and is. Someone like that, well you'd just have to follow them anywhere.