The Women of Galilee

Selfless and Steadfast

All those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.  Luke 23:49

The women who ministered to Jesus and His disciples during the three years He traveled throughout Palestine were a diverse group. Matthew lists Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and also the unnamed mother of James and John (27:56). Mark names Salome and says that “many other women” had come to Jerusalem that week (Mark 15:40-41). John includes Mary, the wife of Clopas (John 19:25).  Most likely, Joanna and Susanna were also in Jerusalem (compare Luke 8:3 with Luke 24:10).

The women came from different social strata. Some were the wives and mothers of fishermen. Joanna was married to King Herod’s steward. A few were financially independent: Luke records that they supported Jesus’ ministry “out of their own means” (Luke 8:3).

Luke also identifies the thread that bound the women together—Jesus had freed them from either disease or demons (Luke 8:2). Gratitude motivated them to serve their Savior. They probably fixed the meals, washed and mended clothes, fetched water, purchased food—doing whatever they could to make Jesus’ ministry possible.

How great their sorrow must have been as they watched the crucifixion. On that horrific day did they wonder, How can it end like this? How could we have been so wrong about Jesus? Even if they doubted, they kept vigil until the soldiers took Jesus down from the cross. Then they followed Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus to the tomb (Luke 23:55). Compelled by their steadfast love for Jesus, they purchased spices and went to the tomb early Sunday morning—as soon as the Sabbath laws permitted them to do so (Luke 23:56-24:1).

How spectacularly was their devotion rewarded! They saw the empty tomb before anyone else. They first heard the glorious news: “He is not here; he is risen!” (Luke 24:6). They hurried to tell others that Jesus had risen—just as He said (24:8-10, Matthew 28:8).

These women are such worthy role models. They humbly served their Savior in the most menial tasks because they loved Him and wanted to be near Him. Even when it seemed that their service had been futile, they still served Him, still loved Him.

Oh, that our love would be as selfless as theirs and our devotion as steadfast. Jesus has freed us from the most fatal disease—sin. He has delivered us from the power of every evil influence that can separate us from Him. May we be as quick to tell others of our Risen Savior as the women of Galilee were.


Jesus told His followers repeatedly that He would both die and be resurrected: Matthew 16:21; 17:9, 23; 20:19; 26:32. Why didn’t they remember according to Luke 18:32-34? What prevents us from remembering Jesus’ words in times of sorrow and disappointment?

Read Jesus’ words in John 16:16-33. What is he trying to explain to the disciples? What turned the disciples’ grief into joy? What is the source of our joy according to this passage?

What did Jesus say about the cost of serving Him in Luke 9:23-27? What will be our reward if we serve Him as faithfully as the women of Galilee did?

Some scholars believe Salome is the wife of Zebedee, the mother of James and John and could have been Mary the mother of Jesus’ sister (compare Matthew 27:56 and Mark 15:40 with John 19:25). To learn more about all the women of Galilee, consult a Bible reference book, like Unger’s Bible Dictionary.

Denise K. Loock

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