Women are Easter Heroes

Women are Easter Heroes
Luke 24 & Acts 12

The heroes of Jesus’ resurrection are women. At Jesus’ empty tomb, women[1] saw the vacant grave, heard the angels’ report, and believed. They then went and announced the good news to Jesus’ apostles. The eleven men heard their story but promptly dismissed it. The women, they concluded, had simply lost their minds. Has this been your experience as a woman? Men don’t believe you when you speak truth about Jesus? Have men dismissed your thoughts because you were a woman? Did men fail to take your message of Christ seriously?

Dismissing the Word of Women

You’re not the first woman who encountered such disrespect. You’re not the first woman to be dismissed just because you were a woman.

And if, due to discouragement or anger after repeated dismissals, you’ve quit trying to share truth about Jesus with others, I get it. I’d be discouraged too. But I hope you’ll reconsider. Scripture makes clear that we need to hear your voice and your thoughts about the Savior. If we do listen and believe you, we will be better followers of Jesus. If you’ll give me a few minutes, I’ll show you from Luke’s two volumes[1] that you need to speak up for the Savior. And we will be better people if we listen.

Women Speaking

Luke wrote two resurrection accounts in which women spoke truth to men about Jesus. He wrote twin stories to persuade Jesus’ followers to pay attention to the words of hope that women can share. But he also wrote the same two accounts to persuade women to speak the truth of Jesus to men and women.

First Resurrection Account

Let’s examine the first resurrection account. After encountering two angels at Jesus’ empty tomb, messengers who testified to Jesus’ resurrection (Lk 24:1-9), the women’s memory kicked in; they recalled the Savior’s own words about rising from the dead. So, they scurried off to tell Jesus’ eleven apostles the good news. But instead of welcoming the news, the apostles thought the women were nuts and dismissed their report. They thought the testimony of the women was nonsense (Lk. 24:11).[2]

Since the apostles did not see Jesus for themselves, the report by the women[3] couldn’t be true. They didn’t trust a report from trustworthy women about Jesus. Yet, Jesus repeatedly told His apostles that He would rise from the dead after three days (Lk 9:22-27; 9:43-45; 18:31-34). Their own Hebrew Scriptures promised the same thing (Lk 24:25-27, 44). But they had failed to take the Scriptures seriously. And now they didn’t believe the word of the women who saw the empty tomb and heard the angels’ report. What’s this? Apostles who don’t believe? Believers who don’t believe?

Only one apostle actually got up and went to investigate the women’s report (Lk. 24:12); just one. The rest didn’t even budge. It’s Sunday night horse racing, after all. What’s more important? You’d think the male apostles at least might exert some effort to check out the women’s report. But, there you go thinking again. The men sit on their hands, watching the races. Has anything changed?

How Does it Make Women Feel?

I wince and my heart sinks when I think of how it made the women feel to be dismissed and disrespected by Jesus’ leaders. I wonder how it makes women feel today when their husbands, fathers, or church leaders dismiss them or toss put-downs in their direction. Perhaps you have encountered the same disrespect. Ironically, Luke considers women’s messages about Jesus worthy of respect and trust. That is how we ought to respond to you as well.

But there’s more. Characteristically, Luke records a second resurrection story where the word of a woman is dismissed.

The Second Resurrection Account

Here it is. When Peter,[4] sitting in prison at Passover[5] and scheduled to be decapitated the next morning, is resurrected,[6] the same dismissive pattern unfolds (Acts 12:1-17).

After Peter escaped death by an angel’s intervention, he headed to Mary’s home and knocked on the outside gate. A young woman stepped outside the house and heard Peter’s voice.[7] Once again, a woman is the first person to encounter the “resurrected” Peter.

That woman—because she believed it really was Peter--then excitedly told Jesus’ followers (gathered for prayer) that Peter was alive and at the gate.[8] At that moment, Jesus’ church was praying to God for Peter’s life. But, predictably, they, too, dismiss the young woman’s report. Instead of taking her word at face value and trusting it, and instead of believing that God had answered their prayers, they said to her: “You’re hallucinating. It must be Peter’s angel.” Déjà vu.

But the young girl[9] didn’t give up; she kept insisting it was Peter. She was certain it was Peter. But Jesus’ followers kept dismissing her. If they themselves did not see or hear Peter’s voice, how, then, could it possibly be true? Who could trust the witness of a lowly servant girl? Who would take the word of a young woman seriously? The followers of Jesus inside the house are laughing at her. But the joke is on them.

Perhaps, you say, these particular women were not to be trusted. Perhaps they’re total strangers, unknown to the men or to the church. Not so. The women at the empty tomb of Jesus had followed Him and supported Him financially and domestically from the beginning in Galilee (Luke 8:1-3).

So, the apostles would have known the women well and seen their faithfulness to Jesus.

The young lady who was first to hear Peter’s voice was at the house of Mary for the prayer meeting. She wasn’t a stranger either. So, the women were well-known. But they were not believed. Their reports about the resurrected Jesus and Peter were dismissed and not taken seriously. 

Dismissing Women is a Pattern

The pattern of disbelieving women is repeated. After resurrection, Jesus and Peter both appear to women. The women believe what they see or hear. They communicate the good news to God’s people. But Jesus’ followers do not believe. They think the women are hallucinating. But it is the listeners who are drugged, stoned on unbelief.

The pattern is not accidental or coincidental. Patterns are carefully crafted for a purpose. Patterns are conspicuous and attract our attention. Patterns reveal the guiding hand of an unseen God. Patterns teach. 

Being Dismissed is not Funny

When we read these look-alike stories of dismissal, we see how foolish the listeners are; they’re obtuse. We laugh at them, but not because they’re funny. We laugh at them because they are so self-focused and so dismissive of trustworthy women. They should have known better. So should we.

Women are Dismissed Today

The same pattern is repeated today in Jesus’ church. Women show up. They come and share. The men frequently do not; men often are MIA. The women tell the men what Jesus has done. The men dismiss their report or don’t care what they say or what they experience. The men downplay their faith or what they say about the living Christ. Women believe and share. Men dismiss them or joke about them. But it’s not funny. Luke is laughing at the men, not the women.

Do your wives or mother or grandmother or sister or aunt or lady friends have many good things to say about Jesus? Do they invest their energies in studying Scripture and want to share what they have learned, but we as men are not interested? Do we snicker at their message or dismiss them outright?

Are the women in our lives scared to tell us about what they have learned because disrespect will come back at them? Are we intimidated by their giftedness, biblical scholarship, and spiritual capabilities? Does their zeal for Scripture and Jesus reveal our own laziness? Are we in the habit of downplaying what women say about Jesus and His Word because it makes us look bad?

God intentionally used women to tell men (and other women) the life-changing truth about His resurrected Son and “resurrected” Peter. But those folks dismissed Jesus’ messengers. Is the pattern of disbelief and dismissal still repeating itself in our case? Could Luke use our own obtuseness to write his next chapter?

God Uses Women to Speak Truth

If you identify with the men or women in the stories, perhaps you might consider changing your attitude and response to what women say. God intends to use women to communicate truth about Jesus. God still uses women to communicate some of the most important truths in history to the human race. Will we downplay what they say? Will we dismiss their message? Will the pattern repeat itself with the women in our experience? Will the last laugh be on us? 

Listening to Women Makes us Better Followers of Jesus

The apostles understood Jesus better when they listened to women who had encountered the truth of Jesus. Jesus’ praying church became a better congregation when it finally listened and believed what a young lady had to say. And we, too, will be enriched when we listen to the truth about Jesus from the women God has placed in our experience.

Who are the Women in our Experience?

Who are the godly[10] women God has intentionally ushered into our experiences? Is it a wife? A mother? A Christ-centered counselor? A grandmother? A colleague at work? A sister? A friend? An employee?

When these women speak to us of Jesus, rather than dismissing them and mirroring the apostles’ obtuseness, why not listen to them with respect and seriousness? Why not ponder what they have to say and believe the truth they communicate? Jesus trusted women to communicate the greatest truth in history to His leaders. He trusts women today. Why shouldn’t we?

Perhaps there are women in our lives who deserve to hear a confession, an acknowledgement of our failure to respect their words. Who did the Spirit bring to your mind that needs to hear our humble confession?

Our Sisters in Christ

And as for you, my sisters in Christ—I hope you’ll reconsider sharing the truth of Jesus with us. We need to hear you. We need to listen to you.

Are you a 21st Century Rosie?

Has Jesus marked you out to be the next Mary of Magdala, the next Salome, or the next Rhoda (“Rosie”)? Have you experienced the presence of Jesus and are filled with the richness of Scripture? Consider finding a worship context where a woman’s faith and story of Jesus is respected, valued, and welcomed by the leaders and followers. You can enrich the faith of God’s people. You can be the mouthpiece of the living Savior. Men and women will be better followers of Jesus when they listen to you and believe what you have to say. Let me summon you to speak up for Jesus.

Delores Dufner’s hymn[11] echoes the heartbeat of Luke’s two resurrection stories:


Summoned by the God who made us

rich in our diversity,

gathered in the name of Jesus,

richer still in unity.


Let us bring the gifts that differ,

and in splendid varied ways;

sing a new church into being,

one in faith and love and praise.

Radiant risen from the water,

robed in holiness and light;

male and female in God’s image,

male and female, God’s delight:


Let us bring the gifts that differ

and in splendid varied ways;

sing a new church into being,

one in faith and love and praise.


Thank you for reading this. Hope you experience a hopeful Easter.

[1] Scholarship generally concurs that Luke the physician wrote the Third Gospel (Gospel of Luke) and Acts. These two documents constitute the largest compilation of New Testament writings by one individual.

[2] The Greek word is ληρος, meaning “empty words, idle talk, words that have no substance or sense, nonsense.”

[3] The Roman historian Livy recorded that women were not considered reliable witnesses in court because they were too emotional.

[4] Peter was the only apostle who bothered to get up, go, and investigate the women’s report.

[5] The same season of the year when Jesus was crucified and resurrected.

[6] Luke’s portrait of Peter in Acts 1-12 is aligned to parallel the life of Jesus from Luke’s Gospel. For example, like Jesus, Peter receives and confers the Holy Spirit, heals a man lame from his mother’s womb, raises the dead, and experiences a death-to-life experience in Jerusalem (Acts 12). Like the circumstances of Jesus’ death, Peter’s death-to-life experience occurred at Jewish Passover (where the Passover lambs were slain) and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Soldiers and angels appear both in the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection and in that of Peter’s story. There are many more parallels that align Jesus’ resurrection in Luke 24 with Peter’s “resurrection” in Acts 12. Jesus’ life and Peter’s ministry are strategically composed by Luke to be mirrors of each other. By reading Acts 1-12, the reader is pointed backwards to Jesus’ life in the Third Gospel. The parallels with Jesus’ ministry verify that Peter—despite his three denials—is Jesus’ legitimate and temporary successor. Readers can be certain of that claim.

[7] It was too dark to see Peter.

[8] The gate to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark. There are women named “Mary” in both resurrection accounts—no coincidence.

[9] The young girl is `Ρόδη, Rhoda; her name, translated today, would be something like “Rosie” or “Rose.”

[10] Women who are students of Scripture, followers of Jesus, and faithful in public worship and service with the Savior’s gathered community.

[11] “Sing a New Church.” We use the tune “Nettleton” (associated with the familiar hymn, “Come Thou Fount”) to accompany it. No surprise, some of the finest hymns are written by women.  We sing this hymn with enthusiasm. And I haven’t heard anyone in our congregation laugh at the words. I am still looking for the next Delores Dufner. Women can be outstanding Scripture teachers as well as gifted composers of meaningful, Christ-driven hymns. Delores, are you listening? Are you writing? Why not?