Think about this: It’s the most important day in the new movement that Jesus has started, and the most important moment is finding the empty tomb. This is the moment that changes everything! Yet no one seems to be able to pinpoint exactly who first found the empty tomb—except to say that they were women.
In a truly countercultural move, this prestigious honor is given to the faithful women who followed Jesus. Even if their names aren’t recorded, they go down in history for their important role, and the witness of women is held up as valuable.
But Mary Magdalene doesn’t just passively witness the empty tomb—she is commissioned by Jesus for a critical role. In John 20, Mary stands crying outside the empty tomb, and Jesus approaches her. She doesn’t recognize him at first, but Jesus calls to her by name. Instantly, she knows him and calls out, “Rabboni!” She is the first to witness Jesus after the Resurrection, and he sends her off with an important mission: “Go . . . to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’” (John 20:17). And she did just that, becoming the first person to proclaim the good news of the Resurrection. Her role even earned her the title of the “Apostle to the Apostles” from theologian Hippolytus of Rome.
The Easter story speaks especially to us women in ministry. First, it reminds us that Jesus is doing a new thing, bringing new life all around us. And we get to witness that work and be part of it.
Second, even if we’re overlooked, even if they can’t remember our name, we are important to the work God is doing in the world. Just as Jesus calls out Mary by name (John 20:16), he calls us out by name.
Third, God calls women to mighty works, even commissioning us. We each have important roles to play.
Fourth, women matter to God. Deeply, truly, and undeniably.
When I read the Easter story, I laugh because though the world tells us lies, God’s truth prevails. Though the world tells us we don’t matter or that we’re less-than, God clearly says otherwise. Though the names of the women at the tomb may be forgotten, the fact that this honor was given to women is perfectly clear.
I laugh with joy as I consider our Father smiling, watching his daughters persevere in tough situations as we live out the callings he has given us, depending on the Holy Spirit to move in us, strengthen us, and compel us to be the people God created us to be.
Easter is certainly good news for women in ministry.