Emily said … (comment on THE WOMEN AT THE CROSS).
“Sweet!!! Man, that must have been a ... unique (for lack of a better word) place to have been, Watching your son/savior/friend dying, watching people either spitting on him or crying beneath him ... hm. Wow ... amazing. Now, what’s the significance of the women being present? Was it that since the men all fled, the women were the ones to remain and care for the body?”
Em: Thanks for your comment. It has forced me to think, but I still don’t have a neat answer to your question. “Significance” questions are hard to deal with. Webster defines significance as “something that is conveyed as a meaning often obscurely or indirectly.” So then, is the Bible trying to “convey” something to us through the women being present, while the men had fled, or is it simply recording history?
The Bible is full of stories of women who acted when men were afraid to. One of my favorites is in Judges 13 about a man named Manoah and his (unnamed) wife. The Angel of the LORD (probably, as many believe, the pre-incarnate Christ) had appeared to the woman, told her she was going to give birth, and had given specific instructions about her pregnancy. She reports to her husband who is full of doubts and questions. At the end of the story Manoah finally realizes who they’ve been dealing with and cries in a panic, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” His wife calmly reassures him with an answer something like this (if I may paraphrase), “Calm down. If God wanted to kill us, would he have gone to all this trouble?”
Or the story of Deborah, the prophetess, who had to accompany the reluctant general Barak into war (Judges 4:4-9).
Of course, sometimes the women led the men in the wrong direction, as Eve with Adam in the garden, or Sarai offering her servant girl to Abram. In both cases it says that the man “listened to the voice of” the woman (Genesis 3:17; 16:2).
We are told in Genesis 2:18, “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him a helper (not “helpmeet” as the King James is incorrectly read) suitable for him.’” The Hebrew word translated “helper” is ezer and does not mean a subordinate; it is usually used of God as the helper or provider. “Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield” (Psalm 33:20). “But I am afflicted and needy; Hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay” (Psalm 70:5). The Hebrew word translated “suitable” is neged, which is defined as “in front of” with the idea of being conspicuous. “Corresponding to” would be perhaps a more accurate translation here. One commentator paraphrases it “a helping being, in which, as soon as he sees it, he may recognize himself.” I like to see it as the woman being the missing piece in a two-piece jigsaw puzzle.
So I guess we should look at the women at the cross, and afterward at the grave as simply filling in what is lacking in the men, as they have done through the Bible and through all history.