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What's More Embarrassing to the Resurrection Narrative than Women Witnesses?

The Gospels say that women were the first witnesses to Jesus’ Resurrection.  Last week I showed what a terrible liability this was for the early church.  Given the attitude toward women at the time, it threatened to undermine the faith before it even had a chance to get off the ground.  This is why most scholars find the story credible—the only reason the Early Church would record women playing these key roles is if they actually did.  And that’s really good reason to trust what they tell us about Jesus’ tomb being empty and seeing him risen from the dead.

But I said there was a twist to this part of the story that provides an even better reason to trust it.  There’s something even more embarrassing that wouldn’t be part of the story unless the story was true. 

What is it?  It’s the role the men play.  Or, I should say, the lack of role the men play.

These big, strong, heroic disciples; these most loyal core of Jesus’ inner circle; these great, saintly, future leaders are nowhere to be found.

Just look at their leader.  Peter boldly promises to stand by Jesus even if everyone else abandons him.  But where is he?  With a simple question about him being a follower of Jesus, an adolescent girl has scared him into hiding.  While Jesus endures his trial and crucifixion, Peter’s cowering in fear in the upper room.  He’s still there three days later when the women go to the tomb and find it empty.  He’s still there when Jesus appears to the women who’ve come to the tomb.  Peter is AWOL for all these critical moments. 

For the Early Church, having women as the first witnesses is embarrassing enough; having the male disciples being AWOL through it all is utterly humiliating. 

In firefighting, saving lives is our highest priority.  Saving a life is what we firefighters live for.  It’s the ultimate call of duty. 

Early one morning, my department had that opportunity.  We got a call for a house fire with a mother and baby trapped in a second-floor bedroom.  A fire which had started in their living room as they slept was now extending down the hallway, cutting off their only exit.  While we were still in route, the first police officer on scene radioed that they were hanging out the window, unable to get out. 

Racing to the scene with the utmost urgency, we were all pumped up to perform this rescue.  But when we arrived a minute later, the police were safely removing the mother and baby with a ladder they found in the garage.  We were relieved and happy to see they got out safely.  But we were also totally deflated.

We rarely talk about that fire.  We prefer talking about fires where one of us did the rescue.  We don’t like to admit it, but it’s embarrassing when the police save someone in a fire.  That’s our job!  We don’t like it when they’re the heroes at fires—we’re supposed to be the heroes at fires!

The male disciples were Jesus’ closest confidants, the ones he called and trained and invested most of his time and effort in.  The ones he chose to lead the church after he was gone.  They are the ones who were supposed to be there first.  First to the tomb.  First to see him risen.  First to these all-important events.  They’re supposed to be the heroes!

They could have been first.  But instead, they were hiding in fear!  The only reason the women play such an embarrassing role as the first witnesses to the Resurrection is because of the even greater embarrassment of the male disciples missing the most important moments in Christian history because they’re a bunch of spineless twits!  No one in the Early Church would ever invent such a humiliating turn of events, never mind record it—it had to be true.   

That’s why we’re on such solid historical ground in what the Gospels tell us about Jesus’ empty tomb and appearances to the women.

You can always leave any questions or comments you have on the “Contact E.J.” page of the Raising Jesus website.  I’d love to hear from you!  And thank you for all your support.  Please “Like” our Facebook page, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and keep telling your friends about us!

About Me

E.J. Sweeney is a true skeptic. He needs to see to believe. Hard Evidence. Compelling Proof. Solid Logic. This is what he believes in. In college, he encountered questions that the superficial faith he was raised on couldn’t handle. So he began a quest for Truth, a quest for the answers to life’s ultimate questions.

EJ Sweeney

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